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Hand-powered bale device  RSS feed

 
Dan Grubbs
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Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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I've seen a couple of designs for hand balers and I'd love to make one. However, I'd like to know of anyone out there using one and what the lessons learned are by using one. I'd love to hand bale my mixed grass, but before I go buy the materials I wanted to know how others were doing with them. What are your insights?
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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They are SLOW!!! Incredibly slow to work. Plus you are spending way more time gathering the materials to bring them to the baler. If you are making mini-bales that sell for a premium (like at a craft fair or farmer's market) they may be worth the time. But not for your own use.

If you want to bale your materials for storage and use later (feed or mulch), then buy an old square baler from craigslist. Your tractor can run an old square baler. Stick with a NH or JD baler and you can still get parts even for the old ones. A rough on the outside but functional baler can be had for $500-750 on KC CL right now.

Or learn to make old-school stacks. I have done it, faster than the manual baler. But the Amish down the road make bales, if that tells you something about time efficiency.
 
Dan Grubbs
Posts: 529
Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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Thanks for the insight, R. We're saving our pennies for our construction loan for our house so a baler isn't in the works this year. I imagine I'd need to use an overrunning clutch on my PTO for my old Ford 8N, right? I would very much learn to make stacks. I am very aware it's not as simple as piling hay. Are you aware of a good video showing how and why? How much would you estimate is lost to rot in a pile system that is exposed to the elements? 10%? 20%? Lots of questions, I know. But, this is one of the better places I learn.

P.S. would also like to see your subsoiler and ripper in action.

Dan
 
Kelly Smith
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Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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you could get a baler with a separate motor on it so that it doesnt use the PTO.

i have a neighbor that went that route as to not have to buy a new tractor specifically for the baler.
it adds some complexity and is another tool to break, but it think its an option on a small scale.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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my old JD baler has and overrunning clutch built in, pretty sure all of them do. You would break shear pins every time you stopped the PTO if you didn't.

Lost to rot really depends--how wet (and wicking) is the ground, how much rain at a time, how much sun to dry it down, condition of the hay going in. A good stack sheds water like a thatch roof. I think you lose less in a stack than in round bales out in the weather. Part of that is the size--the manual stacks we used to make were 10-12 TONS each so they had a lot of volume for the surface area. A good stack might have a foot of degradation in the top and 6" in the sides, but a bad spot on the top could funnel water all the way through in a big column. They are just so time intensive, especially the moving them after you make them.

My Grandpa had a neighbor that stacked manually (well, a cable loader on a farmall M) long after everyone else had switched to round bales. But he left the stacks in the field and winter-grazed the field. He put up electric to keep the cattle away for the other stacks and put a feeder around the one stack in use. Rotational grazing long before anyone knew what to call it.

Best video I have seen is the bit in the BBC's wartime farm. I can't remember the episode. They put it 12" up in the air on mushroom shaped stones to keep the mice and rats out of it plus airflow in the wet British weather.

Making most of the stack is just like building a square compost pile--pile it neat and straight edges (except DRY). The only difference is making the dome at and laying the hay to shed water on top.

I have done it with scythe and pitchfork, but I cheated and threw it on my trailer and used the truck to haul it home. I just did 20-25 cu yards of it this weekend for making compost. I cheated and used my loader in the end.

Keep reminding me on the ripper, it isn't done yet. I have more parts, and a plan, but garden production took priority over pasture work this spring. The cattle will be rotated through the area I was going to rip in another month, so it may be tight getting the keylines in before the fall rains start--but who knows what the weather will be this year, it has been anything but normal so far! Plus I need a new phone and/or camera.

 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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These give you enough. I would cheat and use cinder blocks and pallets if you want to keep it off the ground.
 
Dan Grubbs
Posts: 529
Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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I'm thankful for your thoughtful reply, R. Very comprehensive. I have a lot to learn, but I do learn a lot when I ask questions here.
 
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