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Discussion Starter #1
As the title says... Looking to be less dependent on stores or farmers that are quite a distance away, so my family and I have started discussing growing our own hay. The area we have to grow it in is about a quarter of an acre, and only accessible by smaller tractors like our 1025r. I'm thinking a small sickle bar mower like a sitrex would be an ideal cutting device, since our only other mower is a 60" mmm. What other Essentials do you think are needed for such a small area? I was planning on building a hand baler, so no need to pull a heavy PTO powered one, but I'm not sure about tedders, windrowers, wheel rakes, etc, though we do have a lawn sweeper that I thought I may be able to use to collect hay, maybe even possibly turn it, if I leave the bag off.. Not sure how reasonable of an expectation that is.

Beyond that, the area was previously planted with a clover cover blend that supposedly is good for attracting deer, by the previous owner. I'm not sure what else is in it. Should I plan on stripping that, and planting a new blend? Or will overseeding a good hay seed work out just as well?
 

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I am too lazy to type,, so I made a video,,, :laugh:


This system will produce better hay than I can usually buy,,,
the local sellers keep the great hay for themselves,,, and sell the damaged hay,,,



 

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A quarter-acre? I doubt it's worth your time (or money) to bother. Production per acre varies some by crop and your area but at best I'd guess you'd get 10 small, 50lb bales out of a quarter acre per cutting. If your area allows for 3 cuttings/year you'd be looking at 30 bales max. In my area that's $120 worth of hay.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
A quarter-acre? I doubt it's worth your time (or money) to bother. Production per acre varies some by crop and your area but at best I'd guess you'd get 10 small, 50lb bales out of a quarter acre per cutting. If your area allows for 3 cuttings/year you'd be looking at 30 bales max. In my area that's $120 worth of hay.
Not worried about time or money. Worried about self sufficiency. If we managed 30 bales a year, that's plenty for us, and it saves us having to transport bales a large distance if bought from a store, having to find a farmer who has square bale hay they haven't sold to anyone else in the area, or having any questions about the content of the bales. There's something to be said about being self sufficient, I think.
 

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In our area, we get about 4 tons to the acre in a good year. So a quarter acre would get you a ton, which is about 80-150 dollars worth depending on the year.
I does seem like allot of work for that, but that's up to you of course.
Clover takes a while to dry, and if you don't have conditioner to crush the stems, it never will dry properly.
If you put it up loose, it would probably be OK.
Otherwise, I would just get a blend from your local seed guy, or talk to your county grazing/forage agent. They will know whats good on your soil type.
I like timothy/brome/alfalfa. With oats as a cover crop
As far as overseeding, It might be hard to get things going with the clover, depending on how thick it is
 

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A windrow rake (aka, side delivery rake) is going to be your best bet. I have seen some that can function as both a rake and a tedder, but I have no experiance with those myself. Small tedders are easy to find as are rakes. Match your rake and tedder size to the mower you plan on using for optimal results. These are two pieces of equipment that you can buy used with confidence as they are very simple and are easy for even a novice to inspect. Expect to pay a few hundred bucks for each.

Leave the leaf sweeper in the shed because all you are going to do is crush your hay with your tractor and pound out the nutrients. They are good for picking up loose leaves and not much else. A pitchfork and a wagon will be the best way to pick up such a small amount of hay once it is in windrows.

A sickle mower will work, but in such a small area a scythe will probably get the job done almost as fast for much less money.

Why even bale your small crop at all? Loose hay takes up more room in the mow but you aren't going to have that much in the first place. If you want to bale it, there are some nifty little jigs you can make out of plywood which allow you to tie off your bales just like a mechanical baler will do. A quick Google search for "plywood box baler" turns up all kinds of interesting contraptions... Even ones that will make tiny round bales!

Good luck!
 

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Kinda like said..... Unless you have something exceptional growing on that ground to make it worth the time and fuel, fence it for graze as a nutritional boost for your animals, like just before breeding, lambing, or sale... Actually.. I would consider spending a little money on seed like chicory or other food plot type plant to enhance nutrition..

Otherwise, also like shown... You can do a very simple hay harvest with a brush hog type mower, and simple (cheap, homemade) rake to gather and loose stack..

Good luck..
 

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Discussion Starter #10
A windrow rake (aka, side delivery rake) is going to be your best bet. I have seen some that can function as both a rake and a tedder, but I have no experiance with those myself. Small tedders are easy to find as are rakes. Match your rake and tedder size to the mower you plan on using for optimal results. These are two pieces of equipment that you can buy used with confidence as they are very simple and are easy for even a novice to inspect. Expect to pay a few hundred bucks for each.

Leave the leaf sweeper in the shed because all you are going to do is crush your hay with your tractor and pound out the nutrients. They are good for picking up loose leaves and not much else. A pitchfork and a wagon will be the best way to pick up such a small amount of hay once it is in windrows.

A sickle mower will work, but in such a small area a scythe will probably get the job done almost as fast for much less money.

Why even bale your small crop at all? Loose hay takes up more room in the mow but you aren't going to have that much in the first place. If you want to bale it, there are some nifty little jigs you can make out of plywood which allow you to tie off your bales just like a mechanical baler will do. A quick Google search for "plywood box baler" turns up all kinds of interesting contraptions... Even ones that will make tiny round bales!

Good luck!

We are going to be getting the sickle bar for mowing ditches and pond banks anyways, so this is just another job it could be useful for. Planning on baling so we can put it up for the winter, and yeah, that's exactly the kind of baler I was going to be using. We have probably about a full acre back there, but there's trees dotting the rest of the land, so we will keep that for them to graze during the summer..
 

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if you keep your hay loose you will find the hay more forgiving in case and you will put it up early. You will see the rain coming a need to get it up. if you do and it starts to heat you can just move it around and save your hay. In the bale it needs to be less than 18 to 20% moisture loose you can go to 25% if you have wind. No need for walls just a roof to keep the rain off and let the air blow through it. you will be happy with your work when you see the quality of hay you make. Just remember make hay when the sun shines no matter what else you had planed for that time. Hay becomes your master. Good luck

Bill
 

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You could buy my dad's JD 330 round baler and 660 rake. Of course, then you need a 70HP tractor to go along with it. Then just add a mower/conditioner and a bale mover and you are in business. Should be able to get the entire setup for less than $75K. Easily justified as now you can go out and do custom baling for neighbors that need it. Now you are in the hay business! :) Just kidding of course.
 
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