Well you've heard of the "A Team" - now here's your chance to join the "Hay Team" !

Every day at the Sanctuary we use a considerable amount of Hay ! In the Summer it can be 10 bales a day rising to around 18 in the Winter months.

This represents a considerable chunk of the feed costs as hay delivered costs around £3.50 per bale.

In the Summertime, we usually have an option to collect hay "off the fields". This is when people make hay, and rather than go to all the hassle of collecting it in themselves to store & sell on during the year, prefer to advertise it for sale "off the fields".

These bales are around £1.20 to £1.50 and so there is a saving of around £2 per bale to be made. Given the volumes we use, this adds up to a large amount of money if we can collect several hundred bales in. i.e. if we collect say 250 - we save £500 approx.

This is a great way to make a REAL saving.

So - Introducing the Hay Team

Collecting Hay off the fields sounds great - lovely sunny weather, good clean honest work, lashings of ginger beer etc etc - the reality is that it is very tough work indeed - However, the old adage "many hands make light work" could not be more successfully proven than when used in conjunction with this task !

Now the problem is that we rarely get more than a few hours notice for when the hay is ready to be collected off the fields as the whole hay making process is strictly governed by the weather. Ideally, you need at least 5 days on sun on the trot to cut the grass, turn it a few times & then bale it & then once bailed it must be collected before it rains.

If it gets wet before it is bailed, it must be turned & dried out ahead of bailing or else it will rot. If it gets wet once bailed, it is probably OK for a short time, but it depends on how wet it gets. Basically wet = bad for hay making!

So typically what happens is that we get a call say on a Monday to say that there will be hay for us from the following lunchtime onwards & how many do we want? - This is where it gets tricky as if we say 200 bales, then those 200 are ours - regardless of what happens weatherwise. So of it tips down, we still have to pay for the 200 that will be sitting drenched on the field ! The trick is to get them in absolutely as quickly as possible before the weather turns.

With just Fiona here & my help at the weekends, there is no time left for us to collect hay - so this is where the Hay Team comes in.

Clearly not everyone can be free at a moments notice, so the idea is that we have about 20-30 people signed up for the Hay Team. That way, when the call comes - an e mail/text goes out & if say 5 people can make it, we will be able to collect it in more easily than just Fiona & I.

Is this for me?
Well firstly you need to live within striking distance of the Sanctuary - so probably within a 30 odd mile radius (although to the East that would put you in the Channel somewhere - eheh)

Although this is hard physical work, it does give you the opportunity to wear a traditional smock, chew on a piece of straw and sing "Oh I've got a brand new combine harvester" to your hearts content, which is something you can't often do down the pub - depending on the pub of course !

But seriously folks, this is physical work and you'll need gloves - also it is wise to wear long sleeves & long trousers as the bales of hay will rest against your forearms & thighs as you pick them up & if you wear shorts & short sleeves you will get scratched !

Bales can be heavy too - especially if wet !

So if you want to join the Hay Team - send me a mail on the link below
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Hay Team
This page was last updated on: June 30, 2012
The Hay Project started in ernest on 25th July !

Martin, together with volunteers Magda & Klemens managed to do 4 trips to the field this afternoon & collected 200 bales of hay.
Magda, the 200 bales + some chicken friends !

Each bale collected like this saves the sanctuary £2 - so that's £400 saved this day alone !!!
Klemens & Mr Max !
Magda & John
Monday 27th July - Day 2

Last night after we collected the 200 bales in.. it rained. Then it rained some more & it then rained all night !! - There are still 250 bales on the field to be collected & they are were all very wet indeed !

After work today - Bill Brand & Ian Pratt drove over to the Sanctuary to do two van runs with me - we collected 49 on the first trip & 50 on the 2nd. We can confirm positvely that wet bales weigh considerably more than dry ones !

It's a real shame they got wet - mind you what do we expect in July other than rain these days ! Once they are wet, they cannot be stored & so must be used quickly. This isn't a problem for us as we use 10+ a day. So these wet ones were stored outside so we can easily put them in for the Horses & Cows!

All being well we will collect the remaining 150 odd tomorrow ! - All being well we have 6 volunteers lined up to help !

Tuesday 28th July - Day 3

This evening we managed to clear the field ! - Thank's to the efforts of Donna, Rachel, Matt, Paul, Leigh & Divina many hands made light work of the remaining 149 bales !

They had dried up considerably from Mondays rain, but must still be used quickly as they are "damp" and will therefore not store.

We piled them all up outside the stables next to the turnout area from where we can easily feed them to the Horses & Cows !

There are 2 more fields to be cut & bailed - although from the state of the weather I don't know when this will happen, so stay tuned for further updates !

Thanks again to all who helped collect the hay in.