While driving an Amishman around the other day, my husband found himself at the Topeka Hay Auction—his Amish friend "Junior" needed to stock up for his buggy horses—and he learned a few things.
Gary listened awhile, as the auction truck moved down the row—that’s the auction truck on the right side of the photo below. It was hard for Gary to understand all the auction chatter, but what he heard was this: It seemed like some of the loads were just a few thousand pounds, while others were as big as 18,000 pounds—and yet they all seemed to be selling for about $200! When Gary asked Junior about that, Junior was amused! He said, “That $200 is the price per ton.” Well, that makes more sense!
Gary asked, “Do the first truckloads sell for more, and then less as they move down the line?” Junior answered that it is more like the opposite, because as they get towards the end, if you still need hay, you have to pay whatever they’re asking. Junior bought about nine tons of hay.
Some of the bales were big square ones, weighing perhaps half a ton apiece. Gary asked Junior, “How long will one of these big bales feed your five horses?” and Junior answered, “About a week.” Gary said to him, “Hmm… I’m trying to figure out your mileage…”—which drew another laugh from Junior and his brother.
I’m not such a farm girl myself… When we first moved here, and we wanted some bales of straw, I had to ask an Amishman what the difference was between straw and hay. Quite a difference, as it turns out… The horses use straw as “bedding” (i.e. to poop and pee on), whereas hay is a yummy food! “Straw” is the leftover stalks from oats or wheat. “Hay” is various grasses which are grown because they are good horse feed. Or as Wikipedia puts it hay is “grass, legumes, or other herbaceous plants that have been cut, dried, and stored for use as animal fodder (feed), particularly for grazing animals such as cattle, horses, goats, and sheep.” But, I digress.
Some of the hay at the Topeka auction came from as far away as Ohio, Gary discovered. There are other local hay auctions in our area, most held weekly. There are a lot of horses to feed in Amish Indiana!
Here's a video of the action: