Chaos & quietude
Blending Serenity and Mayhem since 2019
Bringing Home the Baler
Have you ever tried making hay by hand, the old fashioned way with a scythe and hand rake? I have and will readily vouch that producing any respectable amount that way is pretty darn hard work. For that reason we made a mutually beneficial arrangement with one of our neighbors years ago; he would use his modern equipment to turn our lush fields into large round bales of hay, fill our barn with what we needed, and take the rest. We’d get the bulk of our hay, enough to sustain us through the winter and he’d get plenty of extra feed for his Red Angus steers. Neighbors helping neighbors, the way it should be. But depending upon someone else, even a friend and neighbor, was also contradictory to our goal of being as independent as possible. It was time now for us to try to filling our own barn, it's time to get a hay baler.
I decided to go with a small square baler for several reasons. Not only do they tend to be much cheaper than the more contemporary round balers primarily used by farmers these days, but the small square bales they make can be moved by hand verse needing heavy equipment, lending itself more to our homesteading style. Additionally, there seems to be a market for the old square bales among those with just a few goats, cows, sheep, or horses. Being able to sell our surplus would be a big win.
Not particular about the brand or model, I just wanted something that was going to work and not be too large for our old tractors. I watched the ads for months, followed some leads, met a few dead ends, but finally found what I think was a great deal. After some genial back and forth, I arranged to come and see a New Holland 273 Hayliner. This machine was not quite as old as many of the other’s I’d been considering. Plus, it had been used successfully last season and attractively had had the knotters, probably the most problematic part, recently refurbished. The only problem now was how to get it home.
Old square balers and not the kind of thing that you can just throw on a trailer. They’re too big and heavy and require a large low flat trailer and probably some state permitting. Which meant I’d have to higher it out, which meant I was going to have to find a different way. After a bunch of research, I decided the best thing would be to simply tow it behind my truck. After I verified with the seller that the wheel bearings had been serviced, we waited for a snow storm to clear out and an extra day for the roads to be plowed. I headed down with a slow moving vehicle sign, a bunch of tools, and some anxiety about breaking down on a desolate state road. Though not very pretty, I found the condition of the 273 to be as advertised. So, after hitching up, inflating a tire, I said a little payer and headed home, very slowly. I kept my flashers on and my speed to around 30 mph, stopping every 20-30 minutes to check things over.
For once, I had no problems. It took about 2 hours or so, but we now have a nice means to store our hay, and if all goes well, perhaps we'll be able to make a little profit this season.