We can’t. No shame though, we only have 5 acres, and only 4 that can be used for the sheep. My husband and I had a thrilling (to us) discussion about the process of haymaking. I thought it was just like grass clippings, but it’s more complex than that. You have to cut the grass a specific length and then stack it up and then turn the stacks so the cut grass dries evenly. And only then can you make haystacks or bales.
There is no point to doing all this by hand unless you want a very special exercise program for the summer. But for small holdings (under 20 acres), or acreage on a mountain/hill/etc., there are walk-behind tractors and balers that have lovely videos on youtube and produce some nice bales with not much physical effort. And before walk-behind equipment and conventional tractors, there were horse-drawn options, which one could still use I guess, if you already have the horses.
The whole point of the discussion was to figure out if it was possible to hay a little to cut down the hay bill, since we are only going to keep a small fiber flock anyhow. But as it turns out, the best way to reduce the hay bill is to continue the soil improvement quest so that we can cut down how much hay has to be available each year. Right now we need about nine months’ worth with the number of animals we have. Getting that down to the seven we originally figured on would save about what magically haying an acre would.
While this was in draft, I found out that while haying our own land is probably not worth it, it might be worth it in the long term to help out some of the neighbors by haying their 5-20 acres where those neighbors are not able to stay on top of the mowing year to year (such is life in the country!) We would get a break on our hay bill, some much-desired exercise and the neighbors would get cleared yards without the hassle of running animals as lawnmowers. So it’s something to mull over and think about in a couple of years.