Hay Barn

August 10, 2018
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This building was recently constructed to store hay. 

Erecting a new building like this calls for more complicated deliberation than renovating old ones. This is the first new building we have erected in 35 years. New buildings claim footprint and change the landscape for an indefinite period of time. Productive ground is foregone for the structure, which will bear ongoing costs of maintenance and increased real estate taxes. So, new construction on a farm can be somewhat of an aggressive action.We have deliberated long and hard about this, trying to find a reasonable solution for storing hay. Hay was traditionally stored by hand, as square bales, weighing up to 50 lbs each, in hay lofts, requiring arduous work. With the advent of "round-balers", which make 1500 lb. bales, this option became obsolete. We started storing round bales beneath tarps to protect from rain, which is fairly effective. The bales are stacked in a pyramid, three high, with a tarp draped over them and anchored at the sides. This works well, until heavy winds blow and until you have to start feeding hay. As we know from tarps on cartops and in pick-up trucks, they do not resist wind well. Wind catches and eventually rips them. Once feeding of hay commences, the tarp is rolled back, and becomes a challenge to manage. It is also somewhat dangerous to be climbing on piles of hay 15 feet tall in the middle of winter, trying to handle a large unwieldy piece of fabric. Further, the cloth inevitably tears after several years, and one is faced with a waste-product to be replaced. The next solution we tried was wrapping bales in plastic. This is much handier than struggling with tarps and it protects the hay beautifully, creating very high-quality feed. The liability is it generates a tremendous amount of plastic waste that ends up in the landfill. It is easy to ignore that reality on a daily basis, until one actually sees vast amounts of such plastic in huge resistant piles at a dump. It is an astounding and even revolting sight.





We have recently laid bales on stone on the ground, but the weather wreaks havoc on them as the season prevails. A third of a bale is lost to rot if the outer 6 inches deteriorate, which by February and March, is pretty much a given. Our bales cost $50 each, delivered-in, and if half of them deteriorate by a third and half do not deteriorate at all, then a barn such as we have constructed generates an 8% per year return, or pays for itself financially in about 12 years. If one includes externalities, such as ecological savings, the return is considerably higher. So, we bit the bullet, and put up a hay barn. If we are going realize a sustainable business, we can't be dumping copious amounts of plastic in the landfill or loosing hay to weather. I mightly resist interrupting the beauty of our landscape with a new man-made structure, but, as with most endeavors, we are forced at times into striking balance between esthetics and function. And if you squint, when looking at the building from far enough away, it doesn't looks so bad...




Below is a quick farmers market dinner, which Susan innovated last night. She turned Blue Oven Foccacio bread into pizza, adorned with Grassroots Bolognese sauce, Patricia's mozzerla cheese, and a drizzling of Evie's olive oil. On Blue Oven English Muffins, she did the same thing, only employing our Roma Meatballs. For dessert were Nathan's sliced peaches and great dollops of whipped cream. What a great spontaneous meal! Good enough to eat while sitting around an outdoor fire, with a glass of wine or two.




It is hard to believe we are staring at the end of summer. With that in mind, we want to mention our next Farm Tour, which is scheduled for Saturday, October 13th, from 11 - 3. It was originally scheduled for the week before on October 6th, until Susan  promptly pointed out that is our wedding anniversary. Caught flat-footed, the schedule was quickly amended. Sign up on-line here to join the Farm Tour and witness animals, buildings, pastures, and wetlands, whiile enjoying the taste of good food over lunch.We look forward to seeing you this Sunday at Hyde Park, on Wednesday at Blue Ash, and on Thursday at Bexley.

With praise for barns,

Drausin & Susan

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