Some time ago I was talking with my good friend Roseanne Cumella in New York. Now, Ro and I worked together in the “garment district” – the world of fashion merchandising. Ro is still in the biz and bigger than life. She has the power of a Miranda in the movie – The Devil Wears Prada. So in our conversational exchange she asked me what we were doing – “making hay” was my response.
Ro – Making hay? I thought that was just a saying. You are really making hay. Is there a recipe?
I laughed until my face hurt. Well, Ro – I guess there is a recipe. Ours is a good field of coastal which in the beginning had to be sprigged – then we have to analyze the soil – apply the appropriate nutrients and fertilizer – pray for rain at just the right time and lots of sunshine (also at just the right time.)
Then we wait!!
My Dad baled all our hay. But when I took over – I never could get that “recipe” just right. It always seemed like when I put out that very expensive fertilizer – I did not get the much needed – all important rain to kick start the fertilizer and the growth of the coastal. Or when I cut the field – the rains would come for days. That is the only time – rain is a bad thing in a rancher’s life. Rain is not what you want on a freshly cut field of hay. After it is cut – it needs to dry out before it is baled. So after a few years of Mother Nature truly kicking my butt in the hay field – I started looking for the expert hay guys.
Now there is not enough time to tell you how you can get cheated in the hay field – hay not rolled tight (which means less pounds and it is pounds of hay we feed in the winter) – hay that is not what was represented to you (nothing like finding plastic bags, sticks, weeds – heck, in that hay we brought in during the drought we found so many kids toys we started looking for the kid). But when it’s our own fields – we know the quality.
So in my search for those “experts”, I had to find men of integrity and honesty. After much due diligence – Troy Wilmott and Edd Coleman now take care of the hay needs for the ranch.
They determine when the hay is ready. Then it is cut and baled. Then every roll has to be trucked to a location on the ranch – we call them hay traps. These “traps” are fenced areas placed strategically near our pastures so we can feed out of the traps all winter. All summer – we make hay. All winter – we feed hay. It takes around 1200 – 5X6 rolls of coastal hay to take care of “the girls” in the winter.
So Roseanne – yes, we are “making hay while the sun shines”. Really!!! Today, Gary is loading the hay and I am driving the hay truck – but not to worry, Ro – I have my Louis Vuitton handbag right beside me – even if a little hay falls out of it every now and then.