Hay Making with Hay Caps

Today I want to share something a little different.

A few weeks ago we had Vince Bucello from Midstate Video Productions here filming for a documentary on Australian agriculture. He spent a day with us filming the making of oaten hay. Some of his amazing drone photos can be seen here, here and another below. Whilst Vince was here we got him to make us a Hay Cap promo incorporating some of his amazing drone and GoPro images.

Building the stack of hay

Hay Caps are a big part of our operation now - their usage is an integral part of our hay production and storage; and the manufacturing, marketing, sales and dispatch of Hay Caps take up a lot of our time. The whole process from inventing a new concept to the actual manufacture and distribution of that product has been an amazing experience. And to see it flourish, employing local people, as well as changing the way that hay is covered around the world is humbling.

Over the course of nearly 2 years of my daily photographing our farm and sharing on this blog I have been very careful not to make it about Hay Caps. We are farmers. We are passionate about making top quality fodder. That’s who we are. That’s what we do. Hay Caps came about because we are farmers, who needed a better way, a safer way, a more durable way to cover hay. This blog is about us as farmers. But occasionally something comes along that I just can’t not share, something I hope will give you an insight in to us as farmers.

So here is our Hay Cap promo:
Click here or watch below


November 18, 2014

The golden hour - that magical hour before sunset
when everything glows with a golden light.


November 16, 2014

17mm rain overnight.
Marathon effort yesterday from the whole family to get all the hay
raked, baled, capped & stacked or carted & shedded before it rained.
How grateful we are to have such a team working with us.


Step 4. Stack

The final part of making oaten hay.
The all-important stacking and covering.

Aerial photography courtesy of Vince Bucello.
  Bale stacker in action.

We pick up the bales in the field 2 ways: either with a bale stacker; or front-end loader with trailers. The bale stacker in the photo above has just picked up the 4th bale. It will get another 2 bales before heading back to the stack, reversing in, and offloading against the end of the stack. You can see this here: Farm-ily Oct 20.

The second method we use is front end loaders with trailers, carting back 30-40 bales at a time to the stack.
Our oaten hay is paddock stacked. We reserve our haysheds for the lucerne (alfalfa) hay. All our stacks are covered with Hay Caps the day the hay is stacked. Our hay can sit in these stacks for 6 to 12 months so covering it is essential. If left uncovered the rain will go into the top of the bale causing it to go mouldy, lose nutritional value and decrease its value.
Building the stack of hay, Hay Caps atop.
 To the right of the stack you can see some individual bales with Hay Caps. These bales go to the top of the stack as it is being built by the front end loader. But when the bale stacker comes in with its load, its 6th bale already has the Hay Cap attached.
And that’s how we build our wall of hay Farm-ily Nov 1.
Now it is at this point that I should mention that Hay Caps are our invention that we have been manufacturing since 2007 and sell all over world. Sounds like an advertisement for Hay Caps I know but that was not my intention - it is rather a why and how we do what we do.
A big thankyou again to Vince of Midstate Video Productions for allowing me to share these drone stills over the last few days. At the top of the photo where the cars are is where Vince is with his remote control for the drone. The drone can travel about 500 metres from that base.
We have found it fascinating to view our farm from this perspective,
and hope you have too.



Step 3. Bale

Part 3 of our series on making oaten hay.

Aerial photography courtesy of Vince Bucello, taken from his drone.
 Baling as the sun comes up.
Baling takes place the day after the field is raked, providing all the hay is completely dried down. Like raking it needs to be done with dew or moisture in the hay, but unlike raking too much dew and the baling has to stop. There is only a small window of time that is right for baling each night. Generally this is somewhere between 2am and 5am as the dew is coming in, and again as the dew is going out from 6am till 9am.
We bale our hay into big square bales that are 8’x4’x3’
(they are actually not “square” at all, rather rectangle, but called big squares).
Each bale weighs approx. 600kgs.


Step 2. Rake

Part 2 of our making oaten hay series.
Aerial photography courtesy of Vince Bucello, taken from his drone.

Raking oats.

We rake the windrows of oaten hay about 8 days after mowing, combining two rows into one. This large field of oats is a dryland crop i.e. grown on rainfall only. Raking can only be done once the dew comes back into the row at night, generally starting about 3am and finishing by 9am before it gets too hot, and the hay too dry.
This applies to the raking of both oats and lucerne (alfalfa). Hence why I have quite a few sunrise photos of raking eg: oats: Farm-ily Oct 29 & lucerne: Farm-ily Oct 5.

A beautiful time of day to be working.
Our rake is a locally built roller bar rake made by Berrima Engineering that enables us to rake oats two rows into one, and lucerne three rows into one, with a raking width of up to 12 metres.


Step 1. Mow

Got a real treat for you over the next few days ….

 Last Friday we were involved in a bit of film making. Vince Bucello from Midstate Video Productions spent the day on farm filming for a documentary on agriculture in Australia.

Vince has kindly allowed me share some stills taken from his drone.

It gives a whole new perspective of farming,
in particular the process of making oaten hay.

Mowing oats.

This paddock is sown in bays for surface irrigation. The mower is mowing one bay only, just for the camera and has almost completed the job. The rest of the paddock is to be harvested for seed. Our oaten hay is normally made on dryland country i.e. non-irrigated, with our irrigation reserved for the production of seed or grain and lucerne (alfalfa) hay.

To the left of the mower parts of the crop have gone down (lain over) due to the weight of the heavy yields. Although the crop has gone down the plants will continue to grow, the seeds ripen.
 Farm-ily Oct 23 shows how high this crop is.

The little patchwork squares above where the mower is are the trial plots of oat varieties Farm-ily Oct 13.