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The Hayloft Challenge

Thankfully, we haven't had to buy much hay this year. We were able to grow and harvest much of our own, just not a year's worth. So far this winter we've bought two round bales of hay.

In the past, we've just rolled it to wherever we're storing it. But the new barn has a hayloft, which presents the challenge of getting that heavy awkward bale up there!

What you're probably wondering, is why not get smaller square bales? They'd be infinitely easier to handle. The answer is that my Frugal Self won't let me! I can't get past the math.

Small square bales weigh around 45 pounds and sell for $7 - 9 (or more) each, so we're looking at somewhere around 16 - 20¢ per pound of hay. A round 4x5 bale weighs between 600 to 800 pounds and costs $45 - 65, making it 7 - 8¢ per pound. See what I mean? I can get twice the hay if I buy large round bales. That monetary savings, however, comes with a different price - moving it!

The right equipment to get these round bales into a hayloft (or to stack them) is either a hay fork attached to the front of the tractor or a tong-like fork that lets one grab and hoist the bale with a block and tackle. We haven't found this kind of equipment in our price range yet so we've had to improvise. Here's how we got the first round bale into the loft.


This actually worked somewhat okay, until it was time to pull it into the loft. That proved to be a real chore. This time, we decided to try something different.

The first thing was to move the manual hoist from the beam outside the barn doors to the center post in the hayloft.


Then Dan laid a piece of angle iron inside the doors and hooked two ratchet straps to it.


He set two pairs of 2x4s on the trailer and leaned them against the barn wall. The straps ran from the angle iron, down the 2x4s, under the bale, around the back, and back over the top. They were attached to a gambrel which was attached to the hoist chain.


The hoist made it fairly easy to lift the bale.



Because of the length of the hoist chain, we had to stop several times to readjust it. Below it's resting on two more 2x4s as we pulled out the chain and reattached it.


Once we got it to the loft doors, it needed to be adjusted again. But this time we had nothing to rest the bale on while we loosened and adjusted the chain.


So Dan gave it a boost with the tractor boom.


The boom raised it higher but not quite in the door.


From there we both pulled on the top straps and in it came!


Ah, sweet success! What a great feeling. Sometimes we think that maybe one of these days we'll find the proper equipment and the job will be all the easier. On the other hand, maybe one of these days we'll be able to grow a year's worth of hay. That would be even better.

The Hayloft Challenge © January 2019 by

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