Hill Spring farmer Nick Barfuss is taking advantage of positive temperatures and mild conditions to finally do something he’s been trying to do for the past four months – get some of his hay bailed and stacked.
"There was probably 10 or 15 people who drove by and stopped to take pictures. Probably the first time they’ve ever seen anyone bailing in January, almost February."
The Barfuss farm is located in southwestern Alberta, about halfway between Glenwood and Hill Spring. He says they were able to harvest their grain and get some hay off before a big snowstorm hit September 29th, but they couldn’t finish all of their hay fields.
"It was a tough fall. I’m pretty young yet, but I don’t remember anything like it."
Barfuss says the snow took a long time to melt, and they were finally able to cut the Timothy crop in mid-October, but it never got dry enough so they could finish the job.
"Every time it was just about ready to bail it would snow or rain again."
He says another problem was the amount of moisture in the field.
"The ground was so soft, we couldn’t get equipment in without rutting it up."
Barfuss says the ground is now frozen, and they’ve been able to start bailing.
"My dad remembers bailing Timothy, the same crop, on November 30th, and that was the latest he ever did it. So we broke the record I guess."
Barfuss says two weeks ago, when the temperature dropped to minus 30, he figured they’d have to wait until spring, but then the weather changed, and a window of opportunity opened up.
He says the quality isn’t good enough for export, but the hay is much greener than he expected after lying in the field for about four months.
"Since it has been cold all winter and fall it kind of preserved it, and it didn’t grow moldy. I guess that really cold (weather) helped freeze dry it."
He says it’ll make good feed for his cows.
At first, Barfuss says he was stressed about not getting the hay off in the fall, but as the months went by, he got past that point.
"Whatever we got, we got, so we were lucky to this now."
Barfuss isn’t the only one taking advantage of this opportunity. Other southern Alberta farmers have been bailing, or trying to finish harvesting their silage.
He adds he knows a few farmers in the Cardston area who were combining this week, hoping to finish up before they get more showers or flurries this weekend.