How Brenton got to be so damn good at making hay
When we sold our calves last week, the trucker who came to pick up a load of steers comes up to Brenton and says, "So I hear you're the hay guru."
Brenton's been called the hay guy for a long time now, but that was a first for being called the hay guru and honestly, it's true. He really is that good at making hay. Partly because of a secret he learned a long time ago.
Brenton started making hay with his dad when he was very young. The thing with Brenton and his dad is that they not only love farming, but they love improving how they farm. It's never enough to keep farming the same way every year. They are constantly looking at what they are doing and analyzing it for mistakes. Dad researches huge amounts of information to learn about new techniques, methods, and equipment. But that's not Brenton's secret.
Over the years, we've invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and when we found something that worked - it stayed. For cutters, the best we've found is both a Hesston haybine and a pull-type Krone haybine. The key part is the crimping rollers. Getting a hard crimp on the hay is crucial in lowering your drying time and therefore increasing your opportunities to cut hay during dry weather windows. But there are the rakes and balers too.
The trucker who called Brenton the hay guru said that he too uses a big square baler. "I hate round bales," he said. And we couldn't agree more. Stopping to tie every bale? Difficult overwidth loads all the time? Cutting off a million twines, or picking up loads of net wrap? We don't have time for that. We can bale for hours without stopping, our loads are always eight feet wide and there are only six easy strings to pull on every 1,900 lbs of feed. Yeah, we'll take square bales over round bales any day. Do they have their benefits for some other people? They sure do but for us, it's just so logical to go with squares. But what is Brenton's secret? How did he really earn the title of "Hay Guru"?
Okay, okay. Enough is enough. I'll tell you about his secret. It's curing the hay. Yup, curing. No, it's not just drying the hay to the right moisture range. So many guys go out, test a few bales and if their moisture tester says it's good, they call it good. No, it might not be good. It has to be cured. The moisture of the hay goes up and down throughout the day and night. Some years we've baled more often in the day but if the weather is too dry, we switch over to baling at night to maintain the proper moisture needed in the bale. BUT! We never bale until Brenton goes out to check the hay. Brenton checks the swath where it's thickest and he only checks it in the late afternoon when it's driest. He picks up a piece of swath and twists it in his hands and that is where the magic happens. He can feel if it's been dried enough to be what he calls, "cured". Then he says what time it should be baled the next day.
I can honestly tell you that since he's learned how to call the hay, I've never seen him miss. He's practiced it so much and aimed so precisely to make the best hay that when he feels it, he can call it every time. And that is Brenton's secret. He can feel cured hay. That, combined with our investment in machinery and his Dad putting in hundreds, possibly thousands, of hours of reading about haying have all accumulated into Brenton earning the title of "The Hay Guy."