Over the years of getting out and feeding cows in the winter, I have come to learn that The Rancher has some particular ways of feeding hay. Usually this guy is super easy going and just flows with what is happening around him, but once in a while there things that HAVE to be done a certain way- his way. I will admit, his “Rules of Feeding” are good. It doesn’t take long to see the common sense in his thinking (which has to be one of his strongest traits/skills…) and that following his rules will make feeding go a little smoother and faster.
Here are the rules…
The first rule The Rancher follows is actually well before feeding time, during the haying season. You see, making a bale just right is all the difference in having it roll out nice and easy or it falling apart in one clump or not coming apart at all. When you have several bales of hay to roll out each day, those extra minutes it takes to get the bale to unroll can sure add up. The best way to ensure this is to make sure that the hay is baled at just the right time, with just the right amount of moisture.
Rules two (and a half… or we could say three… Ya, they are good enough to be their own rules.) The Rancher tries to keep a stack of hay close to the different fields we feed in. Rather than making one stack of hay in the summer while we are putting up hay, he will haul the hay straight to the winter feed yards to make it ready to go. Of course it is hard to estimate exactly how many bales we will need each year and most of the time we will have to haul more hay down. So to keep from having too many extra trips, The Rancher has another simple feeding rule he lives by. He loads up with bales every morning he goes to feed. And not just one extra, but all the extras he can carry. If the feed truck is going down, so is a bunch of hay. Why not? It saves work down the road, for sure!
Next, when day one comes to start putting the feed down, don’t start right inside the gate. The Rancher grumbles every day he has a rough drive over bumpy, hard, and frozen cow pies. To avoid this he starts feeding the cows as far away from the gate as possible and then works his way to the gate, day by day. Yes, there will be some poop scattered all around the field, but the majority of it will be where the feed is because that is where the cows are spending all their time eating. And pooping. And hopefully, not where he is going to be driving.
See… they make sense. So simple, yet so brilliant.
This next rule The Rancher follows I think is pretty clever and pretty darn observant. On our net wrap, there is a little yellow strip that goes down only one side of the bale. If he picks up the bale with the strip on the left, the bale unrolls just right. Every. Time. mostly… Ya know, like toilet paper. If you pick up the bale with the strip on the right, you have to roll out the bale driving backwards. The Rancher handles it just fine, but the combination of driving backwards and feeding hay all at the same time just doesn’t work out too good for some of the rest of us. If The Rancher can manage it, he will even stack and line up the bales with that yellow strip all on the same side. So organized. So efficient. So beautiful.
The Rancher has a handful of other tips more than rules when it comes to feeding. Tips like how you should always have a sharp knife ready to go and to first bust off the snow and ice off the bale as best you can. Of course the best tip he lives by is to always bring a buddy along to open the gates and cut off the net wrap so you can stay in the nice warm feed truck!
Try out The Rancher’s “Rules of Feeding”. I would bet they will help you out too! What are your rules of feeding?