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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good afternoon,
This will likely be one of the more ignorant posts received to date (LOL) so my sincere apologies in advance. As shown in the pic, our neighbors have a local farmer hay their property. (Is that even the correct term?!?) Our property of six acres abuts theirs with no fencing between. We are new to the area (western North Carolina) having moved from out of state (Texas) and are semi-retired. We have NO farming experience and don't plan to start anytime soon. What we do have is a large six acre "yard" that we pay handsomely to have mowed every two weeks. We love the property as is, but are contemplating asking the local farmer if he'd like to use our property too to grow hay. We just think it would be a bit of savings on us (not having to mow) and the biweekly gas emissions would at least be serving a purpose rather than just for pretty yard maintenance. My question is given our ignorance, is there anything we are overlooking in our considered act of what we believe to be community kindness? For example, our well sits off to the right in a very low area so would there be an issue with haying around it as far as any possible well contamination? Or should the local farmer decide six months or six years later to give it up would we be incurring a great expense to return the property to its current grass / yard state? Also, we're assuming that the farmer would incur cost and labor getting the hay established so how long would we mentally need to commit to this to have made it worthwhile to the farmer if we decided to change our minds and quit the haying? Given that we know absolutely nothing about farming or haying, I would appreciate y'alls thoughts especially about things that we should be considering prior to making the offer. Thank you for your time and commitment to farming!
Dana

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Hi Dana. Welcome to HT!

You are asking the right questions. Being offered additional ground adjoining ground he is already working will likely be something he will be at least interested in discussing.

As for commitment time period and such, you may want to start by chatting with your neighbor and see if they are willing to share any details from their arrangements. They may also be able to give you a lead if their farmer is even interested in expanding.

Another good place to get some info is the local Cooperative Extension Office. They can help you better understand the specifics of your local market and concerns with your well placement.
 

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You have the asked the right questions and Andy gave some good advice. Nice view by the way. I would talk to the neighbor and tell them you are interested and ask what their arrangement is. Looking at it in the pictures it seems to me that all you need is let it grow and he can cut and bale it. There is the issue of who pays for the lime and fertilizer. I am in NC also and most of the time around where I am the farmer will pay for the lime and fertilizer but he needs at least a 5 year contract to cover the costs. So be nice and don’t run him off after two years unless he really screws up. Shouldn’t be a problem staying away from the well and there will not be in ground contamination to worry about. The general rule in my area is the farmer is keeping your property clean from growing up and will treat it like it’s his. Keep searching for this forum for more answers to your questions, or talk to the farmer and post back what he says.
 

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whats been hinted at but not explained is.......when you mow and then take the clippings(hay) off the property your slowly removing the nutrients in the soil....so without soil tests and adequate fertilization in a few years you end up with a field of weeds .......then recovery is a costly process........so keep that in mind if you discuss haying with a farmer......nothing is zero cost
 

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Been there, done that. The first thing that you need to decide is if you're willing for it to look like a hay field and not a lawn? Hay fields grow up two to three feet high and grow that way for several months in the spring before it's cut as hay. Then if it grows into a second cutting it will look pretty shaggy until he makes hay again. By the the fall you might want to have it mowed once so it's pretty for six months in the winter. The look of a hayfield as a border to my yard doesn't bother me at all, but I have a neighbor who wants his area to look like a golf course and he eliminated his hay relationship so that he could mow it to please himself.

The convenience of your location is a real plus in your favor. If you were just trying to get 6 acres hayed you might have a hard time finding someone who wanted to do it. But because it's contiguous that's appealing.
Were it me, I would consider it free mowing and tell him he can have all the hay for free but you expect him to properly fertilize and lime the property according to a soil test. You might also tell him that if you change your mind, you will pay for his cost of that one years fertilizer and lime. Just remember you want a good working relationship. That that means that neither side should be taking advantage of the other. Farm relationships tend to go bad when one side pushes its advantage to the point at the other side feels taken advantage of.

And if you change your mind 3-4 years down the road, a little seed and fertilizer, will quickly bring it back to a lawn and you can start mowing it bi-weekly again. Good luck
 

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What a beautiful view, can I come hay your yard and live there?

For claiming ignorance to this you sure are asking the right questions.

I'm the farmer in this case, where several of the properties I farm are large swaths of acres that a landowner doesn't want to mow. I take great pride in maintaining my fields as that is my credibility on the line with other producers in the area as well as customers, and want the field to produce. I don't pay anything for my fields, I pay all the costs of fertilizing, liming, and spraying. I do get consent with the owners first to find out what they will allow me to do and not to do. One lady doesn't want any herbicides on her field, so I accomodate that.

You should request that he must lime and fertilize the field otherwise he will deplete it. If there are other things or areas that are off limits, let him know. Otherwise, stay out of his way and he will stay out of yours. He may decide to till up the ground and replant a forage grass variety. Ask him too if he'd like a time commitment from you on how long he can farm it if he has to pay for inputs.

By the way, all my landowners are ecstatic at the condition I have put their property in and they love having it maintained like that. You will have very tall grass most of the time except for the 3 or 4 times a year it is mowed, in which it will grow tall again within 4-6 weeks.
 

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Been there, done that. The first thing that you need to decide is if you're willing for it to look like a hay field and not a lawn? Hay fields grow up two to three feet high and grow that way for several months in the spring before it's cut as hay. Then if it grows into a second cutting it will look pretty shaggy until he makes hay again. By the the fall you might want to have it mowed once so it's pretty for six months in the winter. The look of a hayfield as a border to my yard doesn't bother me at all, but I have a neighbor who wants his area to look like a golf course and he eliminated his hay relationship so that he could mow it to please himself.
IMHO a hayfield looks much better than acres of cut grass. I do a couple fields that have neighboring properties that are all mowed all summer long, all together probably 10-12 acres of “lawn” that takes a lot of time and fuel to keep cut. Thankfully I have a few folks in my area that don’t want to mow acres of grass every week and let me cut the hay a couple/few times per summer.
 

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Dana, welcome to Haytalk. Probably some of the nicest and most helpful bunch on the internet. Knowledge and experience runs the gamut from the weekend warrior to the large, commercial farmers.

As others have responded, talking to your neighbor is probably the best first step. A few questions:
1. How long has he been baling on your property? If he has been baling for several years, that is a positive, IMHO.
2. Are you happy with the performance of the farmer? Does he treat your property with respect (i.e., he is not leaving trash, digging ruts in the ground, etc)? Does he do what he says he will do?
3. Finally, what kind of deal have you worked out with him? Who pays for inputs (fertilizer, lime, herbicide, etc). Who gets the hay, etc.

Leasing hay ground really depends on the region. In the Southeast, where grass is abundant, the general rule is:
1. Farmer does not pay to lease the field.
2. Farmer is responsible for all inputs.
3. Farmer receives all the product.
3. Landowner gets a well maintained field at no cost.

One item to be aware of is whether or not the farmer is adequately fertilizing the field. Sadly, there are some guys out there who will "mine" the field of all nutrients. They will bale and take product off the field, but will not lime or fertilize, or otherwise put nutrients back into the soil. The stand of grass will diminish over time and unwanted weeds will begin to take over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you to everyone who took the time to reply to my post. It is VERY MUCH appreciated. I would have been clueless about the replenishment of nutrients! I have talked to my neighbor. They are happy with their arrangement (farmer does not pay to lease their field and their agreement is he's to cover his costs and replenishment of nutrients.) The farmer has said he is very interested in our field too so we will set up a convenient time to meet with him to get a thorough understanding of expectations from both sides. Thank you all again for your time and professional insight! We hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
 
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