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0508 FG: Trying for quality

Brad Nelson Published on 17 October 2008

Boys will be boys. Boys with energy and imagination who have access to exotic supplies may get a little out of hand from time to time.

Somewhere in the Miami, Florida area, a group of boys with energy and imagination had access to a roll of dry cleaners’ garment dust cover bags, some hydrogen gas, many coat hangers and a good supply of firecrackers and other fireworks.

They attached the plastic bags together and individually filled each one with hydrogen gas. They made a ring of coat hangers that circled the base of the mass of hydrogen-filled balloons to which they attached the fireworks in strings so that they went off in a controlled, timed manner.

They untied the tether after lighting a series of fuses. They had used up most of the afternoon building the monster, and they released it into the wilds of metropolitan Dade County (Miami) Florida, just at the point of dark.

The monster had the plastic bags only filled about one-fourth of capacity with the hydrogen gas, knowing that it would expand as the monster rose in the air and that too much hydrogen would burst the bags and crash the apparition.

At about three-thousand feet in the air, the slow-burning fuses started setting off fireworks. The light of the fireworks was amplified by a number of aluminum pie plates attached to the coat-hanger frame.

In about half an hour, the Air Force had scrambled fighter jets to investigate while most of Miami sat glued to their television sets watching the “flying saucer,” including those who built it.

When the last of the fireworks went off the grand finale was a cluster of cherry bombs positioned in the center of the hydrogen-filled plastic bags. The fireball that followed lit up the sky nicely, if but for a moment.

The mother of one of the boys entered the room and asked, “I don’t suppose you boys know anything about that thing in the sky, do you?”

“No, ma’am” was the answer in unison.

These fellows had thought through a plan. They had assembled the monster and sent it off without blowing themselves up or setting the garage on fire. The creation they made did just what they wanted it to do.

Later the same group was experimenting with rocket propulsion using a homemade craft with wings and some form of gunpowder-derived propellant.

They aimed the rocket toward the open ocean to avoid harming property, pets or people. After a couple of uneventful launches, which left their rocket unrecoverable in the ocean, they had an “incident.”

Something happened to the steering of the craft and instead of flying harmlessly into the ocean, it turned and went up the coast until it ran out of fuel. The smoking remains landed at the back door of the houseboat of a retired federal judge, apparently waking him from an afternoon nap.

Some time later that day the boys overheard a conversation from the front door of the home where they had gathered. The mother who belonged to the home answered the door to find standing there armed men from a number of law enforcement agencies.

The mother stepped outside, and the boys could not hear all of the conversation. The mother came back in the house, and the troops left.

The boys asked the lady of the house what that was all about. The mother said that the guys with the guns and badges were looking for them, something about the attempted murder of the old judge.

She told them she had not heard that the judge was dead. When told that he was not dead, she retorted that, “If my boys had tried to kill the old rascal, he would be very dead!” With that she closed the door as the group looked at each other, shrugged and left.

These fellows had a vision of what they could make with what they had on hand and what they wanted it to do. It took lots of time and hard work, but it created just the sensation the boys wanted.

Fast forward ten or twenty years and imagine these fellows as hay growers. Can you imagine any of them making any of the following comments?

1. I know it will be better hay if I wait for a little dew before I bale, but this year hay is so short that anything with strings around it will bring big bucks.

One hay buyer in a year that started out with the hay supply looking very short told me that as fourth cutting was ready to come off, and the hay market had softened, he had hay growers calling him and offering to bale just like he wanted them to bale if he would please buy their hay. These were the same fellows who laughed at him earlier when he asked them to bale for quality.

2. I am too lazy to make a high, dry place to stack the hay. I’ll just pile it in the dirt. Hay is so short this year that the buyers will have to take the dirty, muddy bottom bales if they want the hay.

Listen to hear the mother speak: “If my boys spent all that time and effort to make nice hay they sure as the world would not ruin the bottom bales!”

3. It has to be good, high test hay. I cut it at 29 days (or 26 days, or 24 days, etc). High test hay has more to do with the stage of maturity of the plant than with the calendar.

Thirty-one days of cool weather between cuttings generally makes better hay than twenty days of 110ºF degree heat with a wind all day, every day. Pay attention to the plant and not so much to the calendar.

4. I know it’s too green to bale, but if we don’t it will get rained on.

Balers ruin more hay than rain. It might rain and it might not; if you bale too green or too dry, that’s 100 percent. (I remember the year in Idaho that the weatherman successfully predicted seventeen of two snowstorms.)

5. Set the rakes low enough that we don’t miss a stem of hay anywhere in the field. It all adds up to more tonnage and more money.

Rakes should just barely move the forage of the current cutting. Rakes set too low pick up all of everything in the field plus a lot of dirt and dust.

Dirt in the hay will foul the lab analysis, generally throwing the Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) test higher, sometimes also affecting the Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF) in the same manner. Higher fiber figures equal lower Relative Feed Value (RFV) numbers.

If there is some dirt blown into the side of a stack and you have to core that side for a lab analysis sample, here is a trick. Walk up the stack and push your core tool 4 to 6 inches into the bales you are going to sample.

Then discard the hay in the sample tool. Now go back and insert the tip of the sample tool in the same holes, this time pushing it all the way into the bale. This sample should be free of wind-blown dirt.

To make sure it is clean, empty the sample tool into a plastic bag and seal it. Lay the bag flat in one hand and “rattle” it for a few seconds.

Now turn it over and see if there is any visible dust or dirt on what was the bottom of the bag as you “rattled” it. If there is, your sample is dirty and will not accurately show the make-up of the hay sampled.

You know your trying had enough thought and work to go with it when people other than your mother believe that your hay is the best.  FG