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Making your own hay and straw, how do you do it.

 
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Any suggestions for cover crops that are edible, make a good hay/straw compost.

I would be planting a small area, maybe 10x10, and harvesting by hand.

Finally, how do you bundle the hay/straw for storage?  And finally, anything I should consider as far as planting location and proximity to other plants and trees.


 
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I wrote a big explanation on how Permies and Homestead people could raise corn and then using tools they already have on hand, convert it into silage. In my case I was trying to show that feeding a few livestock need not be complicated, take expensive machinery, or be less than ideal for livestock. In your case, using my suggested method to produce compost material would be even better. You would get more pounds of compost growing corn, then you could cover crop the area after harvesting with winter rye and get two crops for the same square footage. Just an idea. You would have to do a search to find that post of mine, but it used simple ttols like a chainsaw and lawnmower to produce the livestock feed/compost material.
 
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Is this the thread Travis?

Hay making without machines
 
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Scott Foster wrote:Any suggestions for cover crops that are edible, make a good hay/straw compost.

I would be planting a small area, maybe 10x10, and harvesting by hand.

Finally, how do you bundle the hay/straw for storage?  And finally, anything I should consider as far as planting location and proximity to other plants and trees.




In general parlance, hay is dried and cured grass, used as livestock (primarily ruminant) feed, while straw is the dried stalk that is left after a grain (e.g. oats or wheat) harvest.

So if you want something edible, it seems that a small grain would be your best bet.  Depending on which grain you choose, what variety, when you sow it, weather, etc., it'll probably be ready for harvest around early- to mid-summer.  In other words, you'll have 100 square feet of your garden tied up for a while, so keep that in mind.  This past spring, I broadcast a patch of oats in mid-March, and undersowed it with turnips.  I cut the oats in early June, and a week or so later had a good harvest of turnips.

If you cut with a scythe or sickle, you can gather all the stalks together and tie them with twine.  For an area the size you're talking about, that should be plenty quick and easy.  Of course, you could just rake it all into a pile; bundling isn't necessary.

Whether grain or hay, the plants you're concerned with are primarily grasses, so location and proximity aren't great concerns.
 
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.


In general parlance, hay is dried and cured grass, used as livestock (primarily ruminant) feed, while straw is the dried stalk that is left after a grain (e.g. oats or wheat) harvest.

So if you want something edible, it seems that a small grain would be your best bet.  Depending on which grain you choose, what variety, when you sow it, weather, etc., it'll probably be ready for harvest around early- to mid-summer.  In other words, you'll have 100 square feet of your garden tied up for a while, so keep that in mind.  This past spring, I broadcast a patch of oats in mid-March, and undersowed it with turnips.  I cut the oats in early June, and a week or so later had a good harvest of turnips.

If you cut with a scythe or sickle, you can gather all the stalks together and tie them with twine.  For an area the size you're talking about, that should be plenty quick and easy.  Of course, you could just rake it all into a pile; bundling isn't necessary.

Whether grain or hay, the plants you're concerned with are primarily grasses, so location and proximity aren't great concerns.


Thanks Wes, I think I want to try a grain just because I'm curious.    I'm hoping Santa brings me a scythe for Christmas.
 
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A couple years ago I made some bales of wild grass hay by hand, just to see if I could.  I used a piece of galvanized steel ductwork I had laying around that was the size of a small bale.  I put a couple lengths of twine down one side and back up the other, then stuffed it full of dried grass (it took a LOT of grass)  Tied the bale off and pushed it out.

If I was going to build something from scratch, I would build a box out of plywood with an open top.  I would make the box so at least 2 sides were easy to remove (screws probably).  You're not likely to get a bale as tight as a machine made one, but  it is definitely a lot more compact way to store it than in a pile.
 
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Straw is generally 80% dry when you cut it.  Once the grain is ripe and you harvest it, there isn't much moisture left in the straw.  So bailing it or just loose stacking straw isn't a problem.  If you want to keep it dry, throw a tarp over your straw stack.  If you sheave and stock your grain, it'll ripen and dry quicker.  Here is a video on how to tie sheaves.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZYttcAWGnY

and one on stacking the shocks to dry.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVKOUo6EnuI

Hay, on the other hand, needs to be dried and cured or it will mold . . . or worse.  When you cut hay, it's generally left on the ground in windrows to dry in the sun.  The old adage, "Make hay while the sun shines" --- it needs to sit out in the sun to pull the moisture out.  Even after sitting in the sun for a week, when you bail it, it's still usually has too high moisture content to put up.  If there is a "cut side" (rectangular bails), turn the cut size up toward the sun.  The cut ends of the stems will wick moisture up quicker.  Turning it cut-side up helps it dry 3 times as fast.  If you don't dry/cure your hay and it molds, it won't be good for feed anymore.  Horses won't touch moldy hay, and cows will be finicky about it.  (Goats will eat anything).  Even more significant, green hay can combust.  Any old farmer will tell you how people who rushed their hay and put it up in the barn while it was still too green/wet ended up burning their barn down.

If you don't care about keeping the hay for fodder, but only want it for mulch, then a bit of mold will not be your concern.  However, I'd still cut it and let it cure in the sun for a week if you want to stop it from decomposing quickly.  Green hay, like any other green grass, will heat up like a compost pile if you stack it.  It'll be 140 degrees within 3 days if you stack it green.
 
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