|the hay conditioner (foreground) cuts and crushes the rye before it is|
chopped by the forage harvester (background)
We started harvesting our spring forages this week. Harvesting is pretty labor-intensive, as it involves cutting the crop with a hay conditioner, chopping it with a forage harvester, hauling it from the field to the silage pit in a dump truck, then packing it into the pit with the loader. Plus there's the small issue of having to work around cow milking, feeding, and other everyday dairy responsibilities.
So far, we've been able to manage and have been lucky to escape with no equipment issues more serious than chains jumping off their sprockets. After two full days of chopping, we have all 22 acres of our rye packed in the silage pit. I'll have a more accurate gauge on the yield after a forage test, but I'm estimating the 42.5 wagon loads we harvested totaled around 140 tons (just over 6 tons/ac).
|mowing down the next day's chop|
as the darkness falls
Rain showers and thunderstorms are expected to pass over the farm today, so instead of harvesting we'll work on the equipment (sharper knives, tighten chains, etc.) and take care of some other tasks around the dairy. We'll get back in the field as soon as we can, though, which may mean we'll be doing more than the normal milking and feeding this weekend. We have between 45-50 more acres to harvest (with an additional 10 we may harvest or graze), and I figure we would need four full days of good running to get all of it in. At some point we'll transition from silage to baleage and use the hay baler and bale wrapper instead of the chopper. We'll make that switch once our silage pit is full (best case scenario), we have a major breakdown on the chopper (worst case scenario), or we have to shut down the harvest again on account of rain.