Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
As my hay stack dwindled, I began the search. Websites, craigslist, newspaper, word of mouth, facebook pleas, phone calls. You name it, I was searching every way I knew possible. What I did find, either had pictures of what looked like to be cow-quality, was identified as cow-quality, or cost a small fortune. By that, I mean horse-quality hay (of varying grassy types, from bluestem to coastal bermuda) costing $13 to $30. One store had coastal square bales for $30! They were apparently "big & heavy", but I couldn't even imagine paying that much per square. A facebook friend had posted $9.50 a square for coastal, but when I did the math for fuel, it worked out to more like $12 each. [Fact: each horse at my house receives a ration of 12/8 pellet grain, and one flake of hay, twice per day.]
I had a lead last Saturday. Jiggs, a type of bluestem, for $9. Had I called a few days earlier, it would've been $7, but the seller "had to pay somebody to gather it up and load it on a trailer", increasing the price to $9. The plan was go to get the $9 hay Sunday afternoon. That Sunday, at 12:10pm, a phone call was made to the seller. The hay was gone, it had all been sold. All 200 bales were no longer available. I didn't want 200, I was happy with 30, but "a longtime customer showed up", and the seller sold all he had.
Devastated, the search continued. Knowing the balance in the bank account, and that, if I found any decent hay at a moderate cost, I'd have to buy every bale I could afford, and that wouldn't be much. I looked in the barn, glanced over the pastures. Frost had recently come over the place, most likely killing the nutritional value of my pasture grass. What little hadn't been dried up in the drought was recently frozen.
Monday, I contacted Sam, Boss's owner. I explained I couldn't find hay, and he would probably need to go back home. Her answer seemed uninterested, as if it didn't make much difference. Puzzled, I thought about the whole situation some more. I sent her another message, explaining I could return him no sooner than this coming Friday, since I was working. Did she want to come and pick him up before that? Over four hours went by, no response. Again, I was puzzled. I called, and was almost immediately dumped to voice mail. I left a message, and a tense one at that. Within three minutes, she calls back. She explained she was busy with some personal company, and could come pick him up Wednesday. The call ended rather abruptly, and I was still puzzled. Monday night kind of late, R shows up, and tried to sneak his truck back to the barn. Kenzie gave him away, "boofing" her bark in that "stranger danger" sort of way. I found him in the barn, stacking 4 bales of what I know was $13.50plus tax coastal bales. "You didn't have to do that. I'll figure something out. I wish you would've asked me before you spent some of my hay budget." He replied, "You didn't buy it, now did you? I was trying to surprise you. shhh, it'll be okay."
Tuesday, I contacted the facebook friend with the $9.50/really $12 hay. We had a deal. R was going to travel there and get 30 bales. While he was gone, I nearly held my breath. Would the same thing happen again? Would I still be without hay in the barn? R called around 3pm Tuesday. "I'm here, it's beautiful, we're loading it now. Call you when I'm on the road heading home."
He arrived about 7:30pm Tuesday evening. 30 square bales of coastal bermuda hay loaded in a little trailer and in his truck bed. We cheerfully unloaded and stacked it all in the barn. We laughed as I was sweeping and scooping every loose bit of hay up and feeding it to the three horses.
Last night, when I got home from work, Boss, his saddle pads, and bridle, were gone. I assume Sam came to get him, as she never responded to the directions I sent to her house, or that she made it or left with him. I'm confused by the whole thing. Maybe cost of hay isn't an issue in her situation. The drought spreads over nearly the whole state, but I haven't paid attention to the rainfall totals near her family's home. Maybe she's mad I made the quick change. I spent about two weeks searching for hay. Maybe she saw the 30 bales stacked, and doesn't completely understand that *might* be enough to feed Harley and Mo until spring cut.
Not much matter now. I put Mo back in the pasture and stall where Harley had been, and put Harley on the pasture and stall where Boss had been. Things are back to where they were in early November before Boss came. I don't know what will happen with Sam and any sort of lessons. I'm disappointed in how it all happened, but until it starts raining here, and the economy starts to turn around, it's pretty much out of my hands.