Do you know what an alpaca eats?
Ice cream? Beatles? Chocolate Chip Cookies??
Nope. They eat grass. Lots and lots of grass. And not just any grass. They eat special grass. Not the ordinary lawn grass.
Now, do you know how they eat grass in the winter? And no they don't dig under the snow for it.
The grass they eat in the winter is grass that was cut and bundled up in the summer. The process is called baling. (See def. below)
bale/beɪl/ Show Spelled [beyl] verb, baled, bal·ing.
1. a large bundle or package prepared for shipping, storage, or sale, esp. one tightly compressed and secured by wires, hoops, cords, or the like, and sometimes having a wrapping or covering: a bale of cotton; a bale of hay.
2. a group of turtles.
Okay, hay (grass) had absolutely nothing to do with turtles, but I had no idea that a group of turtles was also called a bale. I learned something today. :o)
Anywho, back to the baling. The whole point is, to feed any animal in the winter you have to "put up" hay. Now whether you do it yourself or buy it is your choice, but we have few fields of hay that give us at least part of our yearly hay needs so we do at least part of it ourselves.
Let me give you an idea of the process.
First the grass has to grow. I know....such a simple thing, but it doesn't always happen the way you want.
Second...the grass needs to be cut and not with your normal lawn mower because it's really tall. I've lost children at times in these fields they are so tall. Now of course it has to be dry to cut the grass and it's been raining here like crazy lately.
Third...the grass has to stay dry. If you haven't figured it out this requires a few day stretch of non-precipitating days.
If the grass stays dry then it gets raked. That just means that it gets "raked" up into these cute snakelike rows instead of spread all over.
Last, but certainly not least, that raked grass get bundled up into hay bales by a contraption called...a baler (go figure).
Now all of this may not seem to be to bad, but did you notice a key requirement to these hay bales? They have to be dry. How do you keep grass that's on the ground dry? 90* and sun. Yup, you read that right. A lot of heat and sun.
Working on hay baling is an awful job, but it needs to be done. Imagine working in the sun in the summer, breaking out in a sweat and that sweat makes you sticky and then the cut grass sticks to you because you are sticky. YUCK! You can not shower fast enough when you're done.
As bad as it is though, I am soooo glad to have that hay up in the barn and at least be somewhat prepared for the winter. I guess I'm following my girl scout roots....Be Prepared!