Painted Hand Farm is a 20 acre Civil War era farm located in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania. We raise meat goats, veal calves, turkeys and organic vegetables using humane and sustainable agricultural practices.
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Farming with Free Stuff Revisited
It's one thing to salvage things like sheds, vehicles, tools, etc., but the opportunity recently presented itself for a roadside salvage operation for some premium hay. "Sandy, someone dropped a large bale of nice hay down the road from your place," said the voice of my ususal hay man on my answering machine, "It's laying right along side the road." With over a hundred mouths to feed on the farm, this warranted a closer look so I grabbed a pitchfork and corralled my daughter into going along. Sure enough, there was a very large bale of number one hay pushed off the road on a curve. It was hay auction day, so my guess is one of the local farmers took the curve a bit too fast and the bale fell off breaking open. I positioned the truck on the downhill as close to the hay as I could get and began loading it on the truck. "Mom, this is so embarassing. What if someone from school sees us?" my daughter wailed. "Tell them that because I got $50 of free hay, I can spend that on clothes for you," I shot back and then went on to ask her how much the dress was I had purchased for her a few weeks before. "There's no way you're going to fit all of this on the truck," she countered. "Watch me." For the next fifteen minutes we proceeded to stack all of the 750 pound bale on the truck. She needled me again. "We'll never get it all home." In response, the truck never reached 10mph on the trip up the street. Not only did I get the entire bale on the truck, I made it home without losing any. The next day I got a call from one of the other local farmers from whom I often purchase hay. "You must be really in need of hay if you have to pick up what I've dropped along side the road," he joked. Actually, he admitted to yes, as I suspected, taking the curve too fast on his way to the hay auction and losing, not one, but six large bales off his truck. Fortunate for him, only one broke open. Since he was scheduling a delivery I offered to pay him for the bale. "Nah, that was close to an 800-pound bale. If you picked it up, you earned it," he said. So for 15 minutes of exercise, I made off with $50 of premium hay. Not too shabby.
Sandra is a witty writer, farmer and damn good cook who has been slicing her finger open on the cutting edge of the sustainable agriculture and local foods movements for the last twenty five years. Her books, How to Sell At Farmers Market and How To Kiss A Chicken On The Lips will be published in Spring 2013.