Finding the Right Hay-Guy

October 31, 2014

When I was a kid, my mom took care of acquiring hay for the ponies.  She had herself networked through our Pony Club with deliveries from another member.  She would leave a check in the hay room, they would leave a receipt  with the hay.  Easy.

When I moved my ponies out with me, several hours away, I needed to find my own hay source.  Being thrifty (read – cheap), I spent several years bouncing around trying out different hay sources.  Some were good, some not so much.  One year, when it was a really bad hay year and diesel prices were particularly high, pushing hay to record high prices in the area, I made a few treks to the local hay auction.  There would be trucks and hay wagons with varying quantities and types of hay ranging in quality.  People would bid, and the winner took the hay.  Sometimes I got lucky and wound up getting bales for just over $2 a pop (when it was generally running closer to $5/6 a bale, if you could find hay at all).  Sometimes it was closer to $4 a bale.  One time the hay sucked, but I was desperate.  I would find crushed soda cans and tumble weeds after the ponies finished off a bale.

Two years ago I got lucky and a friend called and said her friend had a load of hay in their trailer they needed to get emptied out that day.  They needed to use their trailer to take a sick cow to the vet.  They were willing to bring the hay over and help me unload it for a ridiculously low price.

One spring the neighbor delivered me a round bale, which the ponies loved.  But it was not convenient for travel.  Although I liked it for home feeding.

When that hay ran out I decided it was time to acquire a real hay guy with some consistency.  Over the years people had recommended two people.  One was an older gentleman that lived near me, who had rather high prices on his hay, and was a little gruff and not to the most pleasant person to work with.  The other was also close to our house, with similarly high prices and very easy to talk to on the phone.

So I picked the second guy, lets just call him Jerry.  Now Jerry is a character, big smile, puffy hair, super friendly and helpful. He was just as happy to help me load up 20 bales to get me through travels for competition season, as he was to help me stock my barn with hay for the winter.  And Jerry, the dude knows hay.  And he is really into hay.  He wants to know what you are feeding to start off.  For me, that’s two sport ponies.  Then he wants to know what they like and don’t like.  Do they prefer a finer cut, or a thicker stalk, and he recommends second cutting for ponies.  But he also suggests you look at his hay before you make a decision.  This man is a hay aficionado.

Jerry is a little harder to get ahold of than hay-guys I have used in the past.  Sometimes it takes him a few days to call back.  So I don’t wait until I have two flakes left.  I also make sure I schedule some time when I go to pick up hay. Jerry is not grab and go farmer. He has a few minutes to chit chat about music and local happenings, and he is easy to hold a conversation with.

When it comes to quality, Jerry’s hay is excellent. Since I am feeding ponies I don’t want anything high test, none of that flaky alfalfa green. I want clean and dry with a fresh smell. My ponies nibble up each and every stalk of Jerry’s hay, and there’s not a crushed soda can to be found either!

This summer we moved across the county, a good 45+ minutes from Jerry. I called a few other hay-guys out near our new home, but in the end I went back to Jerry, and made the trek across the county.  Quality hay from a dependable source is worth it.



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