Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Couple of Clever Ideas

I've been searching all summer for some barley straw for Emma and Ramsey this year.  The only thing I could find were a total four 40lb bales selling at a feed store for $14 each.  I was about to give up all together when I had, what I thought, was a clever idea to call the farm machinery dealer and ask them if they knew of any farmers growing straw crops this year.  I ended up with a short list of names and started making calls.  I was down to my last name and thinking my idea hadn't been all that clever after all when I hit the jackpot.

After the first few awkward moments when I try to explain who I am, where I'd gotten the number and what I was looking for he seemed very sorry that, no he didn't have any barley straw.  On the verge of hanging up, he said, "would wheat straw work?".  Why yes it would.  It would be my second choice, but it never occurred to me to ask because I have never heard of anyone growing it in this area.  He said he'd planted a bit just as an experiment.  My hopes were nearly dashed again when he said the bales were the giant square kind that weigh 650-700 lbs.

me:  "There is no way I can handle one of those and I don't have any way to move it."

Farmer:  "No problem, I'll just bring it to you."

me:  look at phone in amazement, "but I can't move it once it gets here."

Farmer:  "No problem, we can just slide it off wherever you want it.  Don't worry, I'll help you.  We'll put it wherever you need it."

me:  blink in astonishment, look at phone again. "That sounds good, what would that cost?"

Farmer:  "Well, I never usually sell just one these, hmmm, would $40 be too much."

me: "Uh no, that would be just fine.  Absolutely fine."

So, I made a space and a little platform for the straw in my shed.  Ramsey immediately gave it his seal of approval...

The farmer was able to back his truck right into the shed and with only a minimal amount of grunting and heaving, we shoved it half off the truck.  He drove out from under it and down it plopped neat as can be...

Here is where my second clever idea comes in, just in case you ever find yourself in possession of a 650 pound, ultra compressed bale of wheat straw which will explode everywhere as soon as the strings are cut.

Find some lengths of heavy twine and cut just one of the middle strings.  Use your other string to splice it back together leaving 3-4 inches of slack.  Repeat for each of the strings.  The bale will pop open and loosen enough to pull some straw out, but won't escape to run rampant all over the farm.  The strings can be re-tightened as needed to keep order.

It'a always useful to have someone check your knots when all is done...

It seems to pass inspection.  And sorry for the blurry photos, it was one of those bleak November days with no light.  The flash makes everything look weird and without the flash, blurry.


  1. Sweet. That has got to feel good. The string thing is clever. That would have taken me several years or several tons to come up with. What were you using before, if not barley or wheat straw? I think wheat is all we get around here.

  2. You're always into such interesting things! Aren't people great? Rebecca in Nevada

  3. good things come to good folks from good folks.

    So, wheat and barley straw are lower in carbohydrates and protein than meadow hay, right?

  4. Fantastic - those look like some happy donkeys :-)

  5. So for the non-farm girl: do you use the straw as bedding? Or is it a food supplement?

  6. awesome for you! delivered for $40!!!

  7. Ooh, that is CLEVER!!! I'd love a huge bale of straw like that - not sure of the difference between wheat and barley :-/.

  8. Doesn't it feel good when things go right, for a change! :) I know it does around here! Your inspectors are cute as can be.

  9. Donkeys, always the handy helpers!

  10. We buy a lot of oat straw bales in 800lb round bales. The mules and donks prefer that over a lot of other types of forage.
    The biggest thing is to make sure it was put up dry dry dry!

    I've never had wheat straw!