For years, at the Jamison Family Farm, we have strived to make and sell top quality square bales of hay - this effort continues. Most of the time we do a pretty good job of it, other times we are dealt a set-back by equipment breakdowns or weather issues. It is all part of being a hay maker.
There is a great difference between making hay for one's own consumption and hay for sale. Once you tag your hay as "horse quality", the ante has been raised significantly. Anyone can make a square bale of hay - not everyone can or does make a quality bale of hay. We often see "horse quality" on various Craiglist and Facebook Market place ads - however, the end product can be not so good.
However, sometimes change is necessary on a farm and adaptation to it must be embraced. For years, we have grown and sold straight timothy and occasionally teff, along with some mixed grass hay. As our fields age, it is inevitable that other grasses, i.e. native fescue and orchard grass, grow-in and dilute the timothy. Further exasperating this decline in a pure stand of timothy is - we are on the southern edge of where it can be grown. We are lucky to see three to four years out of a stand of timothy; teff is an annual. Adding to the above, timothy can be ruined by a mite - the cereal rust mite. It is prevalent in northern Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and other large hay producing states. We believe cereal rust mite has invaded our farm.
We are finding that growing timothy is more costly and labor intensive than in past years. We can raise the price, hire additional bodies to help, but the reality of square bales in our general area is this: While some customers will gladly pay for forage tested straight timothy at a higher price, others find it necessary to shop elsewhere - lower priced hay and often lower quality hay.
So we need to strike a balance - affordable hay, top quality and an expectation of reasonable profit for the farm.
After much careful consideration, we have decided to no longer produce straight timothy hay as our primary forage, but rather a clean, well managed mixed grass hay. This mixed grass is fescue, orchard grass, timothy, bluegrass, crabgrass and other native grasses. All of it will be forage tested and our expectation is it will measure very close to timothy.
Some of the benefits of mixed grass hay:
May the Hay Dog is not concerned with these complex hay decisions. She has a sore foot...
If you have questions or concerns with our hay - feel free to contact us at FirstQualityHay@icloud.com or call/text (304) 667-4753.
We also have hay for sale too.
Hope everyone has had a great summer - we'll talk again!
This blog entry is checked and edited by May the Hay Dog - WOOF!