We got some hay last weekend. The local hay crop, which is usually yellow, slimy, and only rarely mown and baled without rain, is actually suitable for horses this year.
Usually we have to truck all our hay in from the Dry Side of the mountains. Hay farmers over there don't grow hay as much as they grow Freakin' Amazin' Square Green Leaf Candy for Horses. It's not cheap, but horses will eat every single stick of it, and generally the nutrition of Eastern Washington Hay is far better than the best stuff we grow here.
Of course, the weather rarely wrecks Dry Side hay. Sigh. It must be nice.
This year, though, in the region where a single cutting of "horse-suitable hay" is considered a good year, our Swampland farmers have gotten two and sometimes even three cuttings of hay from their fields already, and some are rubbing their hands together in anticipation of a fourth cutting. Me, I wouldn't bet on that fourth cutting, but the second and third cuts look amazingly good.
Since Hana likes to eat but is prone to roundness, I prefer to get hay that is a little less Freakin' Amazin' when I can get it. Local hay fits her needs perfectly.
I buy hay all over the county. Whenever I can afford a ton, I spend a few minutes with Craigslist and a few more minutes on the telephone, and then I throw a bunch of ropes in the truck and head out to buy hay. I wish I were prosperous enough to just roll up to some field or other with my empty truck and trailer and pick up three tons of premium hay at a time, but I'm not...and bouncing a check to a hay farmer is the worst possible karma. So instead, I wait for payday and shop around.
This last batch of hay came with something extra: salt.
The farmer (who has clearly been growing hay since Noah unloaded the first two bushels of grass seed from the ark) nodded wisely at me. "It draws out the extra moisture from the bales," he said. "Keeps down the chance of spontaneous combustion."
Salt does that?
I was skeptical. However, this hay was some of the nicest I've seen out of Swampland fields in years, and his price was low, and he helped Willy and me stack it on the truck and tie it down. The salted hay is now stacked neatly in the neighbor's barn.
(Did I mention how nice my neighbors are? They offered to house hay for us, right behind the gigantic fish. But that's another story....)
I'm not a librarian-by-trade for nothing, so when I got back to electricity from the hay barn, I started looking for information about salted hay.
And, whaddya know?
It's traditional to scatter salt on hay bales to draw out moisture and reduce the danger of spontaneous hay combustion. According to the most authoritative article I located, the practice works, but not very well. It certainly does no harm, anyhow.
As long as the mares don't start demanding pepper and ketchup on their hay to go with the salt, I think it will be fine.