Notes from Windward: #71


Gathering Hay Duff


     We're looking forward to the day when we'll be able to harvest our own hay, but that's a few years down the road. For now, we purchase our hay from a friend who lives and farms just the other side of the county seat. One of the reasons we buy from him is that his hay is stored in a sealed, metal barn (it's actually more reminiscent of an airplane hanger than a barn) that features a pond liner for a floor.

Michael and Opalyn gather up the duff

     As a result, his hay is free from sun and weather damage as well as from the mold that hay develops when hay is stored in contact with ground moisture as it would be in most hay barns. We like his system so much that we're copying it as we improve our own hay barn. Having a pond liner for a floor allows us to gather up the duff--the small particles that fall out of the hay as bales are moved around, or a bale is broken up into individual "flakes" for feeding. Since the duff is composed of the most nutritious parts of the alfalfa plant, conserving it is key to getting the most value out of the forage we buy.

     Given the size of our friend's hay operation, come the end of the year, there's a lot of duff on the floor of his barn, material that he'd usually just gather up and add to his compost pile. Instead, for the second year, he's been kind enough to allow us to sweep it up and haul it home to use in our efforts to compound our own rabbit, chicken and fish food.
ready to unload 500 gallons of duff

     Unloading the duff was straight forward. We used a bale of hay to create a step down from the truck bed, put a rope around each of the IBCs, and pulled. The work truck has a plastic bed liner, and the plastic IBCs slid out of the truck easily, down the tailgate, across the bale and down to the ground. By taking it in stages, we help ensure that the plastic IBC isn't damaged.

     There's some duff already on the floor on top of the pond liner we've installed, and that helps the IBC slide over the pond liner and into where we want it. With over a thousand gallons of duff tucked away in the hay barn, we're looking forward to advancing our research into extruding our own feed pellets this summer.

a thousand gallons of duff stored away

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 71