I would have taken pictures, but that would have totally marked me.
Because, you know, giving the auctioneer a blank stare when he asked for my bidder number and stumbling over an uh-well-I-didn’t-know-I-needed-one kind of response did not in any way mark me as completely new to this. And just because from then on out he knew my pulled-right-out-of-his-hat bidder number doesn’t mean I was actually marked in any way.
And the fact I actually had to ask someone how and where to pay . . . well, never mind.
Just imagine me there with a camera, too.
But now I have hay. And it is remarkable just how much my mood has improved over a pile of dried grasses. A huge pile, yes, but in the end, just a pile of grass.
Because last week, I was feeling my inexperience in a much more stressful way than not actually understanding how to bid on an item at an auction. Last week, I realized it was probably time to start making sure I had enough hay to get through winter.
But the people I got it from last year didn’t have enough.
And I heard something about small bales going for as much as $15 a bale.
And I looked at my heifers and wondered how much we would be willing to spend to feed them before we would let them go.
And then it wasn’t even a matter of being able to afford to feed them. I couldn’t find hay at any price. It was always already sold.
The inexperience hurt. Back in May, I started supplementing hay in order to ease the pressure on my pasture. Why didn’t it occur to me then that winter might be a problem? Whole herds were being sold off and slaughtered due to the drought and still I didn’t think about winter. Now, it seems so obvious. Then, I was more worried about just getting through summer.
So I found my first hay. Several farmers, actually, all charging about $8 a bale.
After feeling apprehensive about those $15 bales and nauseous over the prospect of no hay whatsoever, I was feeling pretty optimistic. I even called my husband somewhat excitedly to tell him about it.
Having not been through what I had been through since first thinking it might be good to think about winter hay, he did not share my enthusiasm. He only remembered paying $2.50 for it last year.
He actually hung up on me.
This is what a pile of dried grass can do.
Fortunately, he got over his shock rather quickly and started trying to figure out how to actually buy this two tons of hay I figured should get us through winter and into spring.
The first hay we looked at was burnt. Inside was OK, though, and I might have taken it except I could pick up those bales and toss them on a trailer almost as easily as tossing Mookie on the bed. There was no way they were anywhere close to 60 pounds and thus nowhere close to being enough. And I couldn’t get past the feeling of being cheated. I know we’re in a drought. I know hay is at a premium. But where would I be in January when I run out of hay because I thought I had almost twice what I really had?
And that brought me to the livestock auction. Where I had no clue what I was doing, but I managed to get a little over two tons of hay for an average of $5.50 a bale.
And that makes me feel rather like I do when I sit on the porch and watch the chickens coming in for the night.
Because a pile of dried grasses can do that, too.