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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

I’m brand new, and excited to join this community and learn about hay farming. I’m here to ask questions that’s probably been asked 1000s of time on this site. My wife and I recently decided to get into hay farming to support our little horse farm in WV. To help reduce startup cost of this small hay operation, I decided to seek out free land lease opportunities. I found one in Fauquier county, VA. It’s approximately 8 acres of fields that have previously been hay with round bales for cattle. The grass is a fescue mix and the land topography is comprised of rolling hills. I currently only have a JD 1025r so I will need to purchase bigger equipment unless there’s a positive consensus on making hay with equipment that supports sub compact tractors (mini round baler etc.) i’d like to keep costs as low as possible with equipment until I’m sure this is a business I want to continue. My budget is approximately $10k for everything. My goal is to make quality horse hay.

Questions:
Equipment:​
1. Currently keeping my eye on a 1969 MF 180 tractor and a MF 135. How reliable are these? Any recommendations for older tractors that have readily available parts and are easy to work on?​
2. Is a Haybine the best choice starting out? If so any recommendations?​
3. What’s the best Ted&rake combo?
4. any recommendations on square baler?​

Soil/Grass prep:​
1. The owner of the lease said he would still have southern states out to fertilize and spray for weeds. Is there anything else I need to do prior to the growing season to make sure the soil is where it needs to be? There is fox tail sporadically throughout​
2. Should I consider over seeding my first year? Or just work with what I have?​

Any help is greatly appreciated! I look forward to learning and talking with y’all. See below for pictures​
Cloud Sky Plant Tree Natural landscape
Plant Rectangle Twig Wood Terrestrial plant
Plant Terrestrial plant Groundcover Grass Soil
Plant Tree Natural landscape Grass Wood
 

· Gourmet Horse Hay Producer
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Wait, you are in west Va and haying in fauquier? I know both and that’s a nonstarter
 

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I have no experience baling hay on rolling hills so I'll refrain from answering your question about MF135 being large enough. I've small sq baled dropping bales on the ground with a 14 HP tractor on flat Texas soil.
 

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Is the 135 enough to run all the necessary equipment?
It's enough for running the older equipment, but not a discbine which you ought to have as it would make you so much more efficient.
Running old equipment ,IMO, is OK if for yourself and you may sell the unneeded hay, but NOT to go commercial.
For that you need newer equipment which today does a much better job, also get 1 tedder & 1 rake (rotary preferred) the haybob
doesn't do either well, IMO. How good are you at fixing old equipment, and there will be a lot of fixing and if you can't you'll have problems finding parts & know-how.
It's not cheap these days to start anything in farming. Small Square bales buyers buy 1st with the eyes, so bales must be square and not raggedy and then hay colour.
 

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Being inexperienced, you’d be far better off paying for land close to home rather than traveling that far to get something free. Which I’m sure is where Hayman is heading with thinking it’s a bad idea. (Granted, most experienced people wouldn’t travel an hour for 8 acres either, but the distance is going to be that much worse with not knowing what you’re doing).

if you can find something close to home and are mechanically inclined and have a flexible schedule, you can make a few acres of hay even on a shoestring budget.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have no experience baling hay on rolling hills so I'll refrain from answering your question about MF135 being large enough. I've small sq baled dropping bales on the ground with a 14 HP tractor on flat Texas soil.
That’s interesting. Have you seen videos on the hay equipment from Ibex for sub compact and compact tractors? Subcompact Homesteader Hay Package
Not sure if stuff like that is just a fad or if it’s good equipment for small hay operations. It would require buying less equipment if this was a legitimate solution.
 

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The first thing about farming, there are something that need doing at the correct time. That time is the only chance you have to make good hay some times. The kids ball game, the wife showing her horse, the family birthday party, you have hay to make all else be dammed. After 40 years of marriage I can still get in trouble over farming has to be first.

My world is different on the central Calif coast (land where Spanish Vaqueros {cowboys} invented do it tomorrow). Think of how long to move hay from this rented field to a barn. One night of rain your hay has gone from primero to junk.

Now back to the fun stuff of helping you spent your money. Massey's don't have a bad reputation, but worn out is worn out. If you have not played mechanic much..................................I hope you know some who has. Doing the farming thing needs to be fun oriented, if just for the dollars and cents don't even start. Because farming is dealing with OH SH.. moments. And still thinking that was not so bad.

All it takes is luck and you can make the money real easy farming. Without nothing helps some seasons.
 

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Yes sir, I live in WV. I couldn’t find anything in the immediate area. It’s only about a hour drive away. What do you mean it’s a nonstarter?
sorry, i meant to edit and further explain. I am in precisely the same weather patterns you will be experiencing. I have been doing this madness because I was born to do it and because I love the lifestyle and few other activities give me the degree of satisfaction that providing stewardship over a field from start to production of prime hay does. That said, it is enough of a challenge around here (I am north of front royal by less than 10 miles) to get things done when they need to be done, the hour they need to be done in to either bale or get ready to bale. 2 hours late just does not cut it and there is no reason to be like the legions of others making crappy mulch hay. They cut too late, leave too long on the ground, rarely ted their hay and flip right before baling leaving damp stuff in the windrow that they figure will be absorbed by the burned up stuff on top. I limited any area I took on to less than a mile up the road, I can run up and ted, then come back and do something at my place including tedding if needed. Being an hour away is a condition I medaled in since my paying job before retirement was in Leesburg which is an hour from here on many days. Basically the only way I could make that work was to take off either half days or whole days. Coming home to do hay work at 5-6 even in high summer just does not work here. If you need to fix something, you are home, you can run out and spend a half hour before dinner and maybe fix it. if you have to drive an hour, then figure out how and where you will get the part then get back (seems like we are getting to a lot of hours here) well hopefully you get my point. I love farming and love haymaking the most. I would not consider trying to do that from afar.

I do find it hard to believe that you can not find any small patches of hayland near to your home/farm. They might not be the grandest spots but it is a place to start. It sounds like you have more big operator pressure near your farm than in Fauquier. However, those guys don't really like to do small places because there is no efficiency with larger equipment. My inclination is for you to look harder around your farm and maybe wait a bit. Around here there are plenty of folks who want land taken care of and (hay produced in particular) to qualify for land use tax breaks. I suspect the same in Fauquier. Perhaps that phenomena does not exist around your farm. Hope that shines some light on what I said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Being inexperienced, you’d be far better off paying for land close to home rather than traveling that far to get something free. Which I’m sure is where Hayman is heading with thinking it’s a bad idea. (Granted, most experienced people wouldn’t travel an hour for 8 acres either, but the distance is going to be that much worse with not knowing what you’re doing).

if you can find something close to home and are mechanically inclined and have a flexible schedule, you can make a few acres of hay even on a shoestring budget.
Yeah I would love to find something closer. And willing to pay. I just haven’t found it yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The first thing about farming, there are something that need doing at the correct time. That time is the only chance you have to make good hay some times. The kids ball game, the wife showing her horse, the family birthday party, you have hay to make all else be dammed. After 40 years of marriage I can still get in trouble over farming has to be first.

My world is different on the central Calif coast (land where Spanish Vaqueros {cowboys} invented do it tomorrow). Think of how long to move hay from this rented field to a barn. One night of rain your hay has gone from primero to junk.

Now back to the fun stuff of helping you spent your money. Massey's don't have a bad reputation, but worn out is worn out. If you have not played mechanic much..................................I hope you know some who has. Doing the farming thing needs to be fun oriented, if just for the dollars and cents don't even start. Because farming is dealing with OH SH.. moments. And still thinking that was not so bad.

All it takes is luck and you can make the money real easy farming. Without nothing helps some seasons.
Good insight. The trek back is something I’ve considered as well. I’m definitely not interested in going big commercial. This is something that seems like fun and easier to get into than other agriculture endeavors. I will always be in the realm of hobby farmer more so than it being my primary means to put food on the table.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
sorry, i meant to edit and further explain. I am in precisely the same weather patterns you will be experiencing. I have been doing this madness because I was born to do it and because I love the lifestyle and few other activities give me the degree of satisfaction that providing stewardship over a field from start to production of prime hay does. That said, it is enough of a challenge around here (I am north of front royal by less than 10 miles) to get things done when they need to be done, the hour they need to be done in to either bale or get ready to bale. 2 hours late just does not cut it and there is no reason to be like the legions of others making crappy mulch hay. They cut too late, leave too long on the ground, rarely ted their hay and flip right before baling leaving damp stuff in the windrow that they figure will be absorbed by the burned up stuff on top. I limited any area I took on to less than a mile up the road, I can run up and ted, then come back and do something at my place including tedding if needed. Being an hour away is a condition I medaled in since my paying job before retirement was in Leesburg which is an hour from here on many days. Basically the only way I could make that work was to take off either half days or whole days. Coming home to do hay work at 5-6 even in high summer just does not work here. If you need to fix something, you are home, you can run out and spend a half hour before dinner and maybe fix it. if you have to drive an hour, then figure out how and where you will get the part then get back (seems like we are getting to a lot of hours here) well hopefully you get my point. I love farming and love haymaking the most. I would not consider trying to do that from afar.

I do find it hard to believe that you can not find any small patches of hayland near to your home/farm. They might not be the grandest spots but it is a place to start. It sounds like you have more big operator pressure near your farm than in Fauquier. However, those guys don't really like to do small places because there is no efficiency with larger equipment. My inclination is for you to look harder around your farm and maybe wait a bit. Around here there are plenty of folks who want land taken care of and (hay produced in particular) to qualify for land use tax breaks. I suspect the same in Fauquier. Perhaps that phenomena does not exist around your farm. Hope that shines some light on what I said.
Yeah that makes sense. The logistics of it all is tough, which is why I sought out y’alls opinions. I’m sure there is something closer, I just haven’t found it yet. Maybe it’ll come in time. Im just inpatient and excited about the idea of making some hay. If you ever need some help on your farm, let me know. I’d love to exchange labor for knowledge on the industry.
 

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An hour away just can't be done in your situation. I could list out a million reasons for why, but it's easier for me to just tell you no way, no chance.

I think $10k for your budget is low. Realistically you can expect to spend

  1. $3-4k for an old NH square baler (unless you're only doing rounds, then I can't speak to that)
  2. $3-4k for a 9' rotary rake (recommend going with something that has tandem axles).
  3. $1600-2k for a two basket tedder
  4. $3-4k for an old haybine, like a NH479 or 488
  5. $1000-1500/hay wagon or
  6. $3k for flatbed trailer to transport round bales
  7. $6-15k on tractor
This doesn't include the litany of other things you need like tools, straps, annual maintenance (fluids, oils, and fuel), repairs ($$$), a truck, barn/storage shed, twine, moisture probe.

This might be helpful for you as well so you know what you're getting in to:

 

· Gourmet Horse Hay Producer
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An hour away just can't be done in your situation. I could list out a million reasons for why, but it's easier for me to just tell you no way, no chance.

I think $10k for your budget is low. Realistically you can expect to spend

  1. $3-4k for an old NH square baler (unless you're only doing rounds, then I can't speak to that)
  2. $3-4k for a 9' rotary rake (recommend going with something that has tandem axles).
  3. $1600-2k for a two basket tedder
  4. $3-4k for an old haybine, like a NH479 or 488
  5. $1000-1500/hay wagon or
  6. $3k for flatbed trailer to transport round bales
  7. $6-15k on tractor
This doesn't include the litany of other things you need like tools, straps, annual maintenance (fluids, oils, and fuel), repairs ($$$), a truck, barn/storage shed, twine, moisture probe.

This might be helpful for you as well so you know what you're getting in to:

Hayjosh is dead on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
An hour away just can't be done in your situation. I could list out a million reasons for why, but it's easier for me to just tell you no way, no chance.

I think $10k for your budget is low. Realistically you can expect to spend

  1. $3-4k for an old NH square baler (unless you're only doing rounds, then I can't speak to that)
  2. $3-4k for a 9' rotary rake (recommend going with something that has tandem axles).
  3. $1600-2k for a two basket tedder
  4. $3-4k for an old haybine, like a NH479 or 488
  5. $1000-1500/hay wagon or
  6. $3k for flatbed trailer to transport round bales
  7. $6-15k on tractor
This doesn't include the litany of other things you need like tools, straps, annual maintenance (fluids, oils, and fuel), repairs ($$$), a truck, barn/storage shed, twine, moisture probe.

This might be helpful for you as well so you know what you're getting in to:

An hour away just can't be done in your situation. I could list out a million reasons for why, but it's easier for me to just tell you no way, no chance.

I think $10k for your budget is low. Realistically you can expect to spend

  1. $3-4k for an old NH square baler (unless you're only doing rounds, then I can't speak to that)
  2. $3-4k for a 9' rotary rake (recommend going with something that has tandem axles).
  3. $1600-2k for a two basket tedder
  4. $3-4k for an old haybine, like a NH479 or 488
  5. $1000-1500/hay wagon or
  6. $3k for flatbed trailer to transport round bales
  7. $6-15k on tractor
This doesn't include the litany of other things you need like tools, straps, annual maintenance (fluids, oils, and fuel), repairs ($$$), a truck, barn/storage shed, twine, moisture probe.

This might be helpful for you as well so you know what you're getting in to:

I appreciate the advice. I’m going to continue my search closer to home. I appreciate the video too. Great channel
 

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An hour away just can't be done in your situation. I could list out a million reasons for why, but it's easier for me to just tell you no way, no chance.
  1. $3-4k for an old NH square baler (unless you're only doing rounds, then I can't speak to that)
  2. $3-4k for a 9' rotary rake (recommend going with something that has tandem axles).
  3. $1600-2k for a two basket tedder
  4. $3-4k for an old haybine, like a NH479 or 488
  5. $1000-1500/hay wagon or
  6. $3k for flatbed trailer to transport round bales
  7. $6-15k on tractor
Just to throw a few more options out there:
2. Rotary rake would be ideal. But you can pick up an old NH 257 roll-a-bar for less than $1000 or even a 3 point / four-wheel rake for less than $500. Not ideal, but could make it work for small acreage.
3. I sold a two-basket tedder for $500 last year in decent condition. Just have to keep looking for bargains and be ready to buy when you find them.
4. For low HP tractors, I would also consider a four head disc mower.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Just to throw a few more options out there:
2. Rotary rake would be ideal. But you can pick up an old NH 257 roll-a-bar for less than $1000 or even a 3 point / four-wheel rake for less than $500. Not ideal, but could make it work for small acreage.
3. I sold a two-basket tedder for $500 last year in decent condition. Just have to keep looking for bargains and be ready to buy when you find them.
4. For low HP tractors, I would also consider a four head disc mower.
What’s the benefit of disc mowers vs haybines?
 
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