Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Haying. I Mean, Silaging

I don't think silaging is actually a word, but since what we did this past weekend was make silage, not hay, I can't say we were haying.

Just in case some of you were like me a few short years ago and have no idea what silage is . . . it's fermented plant material. Grass, hay, corn, whatever. It's chopped up and stored in airtight plastic, to ferment and thereby be quite digestible by cows*.

And sheep.

Sheep! We have sheep! We have no money for crazy-expensive hay that keeps getting more expensive every winter! So when the lawn tractor broke and we waited so long for the part to fix it that our grass grew into hay and then A. finally cut it and it was so thick and long the cut grass would have killed the grass roots if left on the ground so we had to rake it up anyway . . .

We baled it.

Welcome to the farm.

What we actually did was put the cut grass into a plastic-bag-lined garbage can, with A. getting right into the can to stomp around and compact the grass. Then, when it was compact and full, he tied it off, dumped it out of the garbage can, and there was a little round bale of silage.

I helped rake. Cubby was unaccountably THRILLED with this activity and helped rake, carry grass to the can, and compact the grass in the can. Charlie practiced standing with the aid of the finished bales.

It was bizarre.

I have no idea if this will actually produce food for the sheep in the winter, but we had nothing to lose by trying it, so stay tuned to see if we just made honest-to-God silage on our lawn. Or just left some cut grass to  sit around and rot in plastic bags.

I bet the neighbors are getting a lot of amusement out of this one.

* Edited to add: Thanks to Jen for letting me know that horses can't eat silage. I know nothing about horses (obviously), so I appreciate the correction.


Anonymous said...

Be mindful of where you store it. It sounds as if it has the potential to create massive amounts of heat and while one wouldn't expect something with such a high moisture content to spontaneously combust, it might be nice if it were away from things you value if that were to happen.

Anonymous said...

One time I left pulled weeds in a plastic bag in the dark garage. By the time I remembered them and found them, the bag content was completely liquid (dark, green, moldy, slimey)--and the smell was the worst I had ever encountered. Made a dead chipmunk smell positively fragrant, I'm afraid...

Maybe I let it all get beyond the point of being silage?

Jen said...

FYI - horses can not eat silage. Since they can not regurgitate the fermented grass causes them to colic.

Sounds like a fun time was had by all!

Alyssa said...

Good idea. I bet my dad could tell you guys if this will work as intended. He loves a good creative challenge.

Anonymous said...

You guys never cease to amaze.
Are you keeping a log of all this fine woodchuckness? Oh, yes, this blog.

Hidden Haven Homestead said...

If you a ditch or somewhere that is a little below ground level to put the grass cuttings and then cover in plastic weighted down it will work. We had a dairy farm for many years and did this. Just putting them in a bag will cause it all to be moldy. I know because I tried this too.

Anonymous said...

I liked the part about A. getting into the garbage can and stomping down the grass. FYI, A.'s late, great, crazy cowboy greatuncle once told me that he "jumped hay" for employment as a teenager. Apparently this involved actually jumping into a vertical, stationary baler to compress the hay and then jumping out again, a grueling task it would seem. The cowboy uncle described the process to me, but I'm hazy on it now. The net only seems to describe machine-powered antique balers and not those requiring folks to jump hay. At any rate, it is safe to say that A. was "jumping hay" during his time in the barrel.

Anonymous said...

One might add that the key to good grass silage is moisture content. My recollection is that it should be more moist than hay but not green (freshly cut). Green grass probably would give a result similar to the weeds in the garaged plastic bag.

Anonymous said...

Re: Jumping Hay

"Hay Jumper. Hart has followed for years in the farming section where he lives the calling of a 'hay jumper,' leaping down repeatedly all day long from the platform of the press onto the masses of hay, and making of himself day after day a human catapult for stamping the forkfuls down into shape for baling. . . ."
-- Syracuse Evening Herald, 9 March 1902