The first post! Oooh what fun.
This blog is intended to be informative, helpful and fun. I thought I'd start with the basics.
Having leased a house and then almost immediately lost
my job back in late November and eaten up almost all of my savings in the past couple of months, I was recently forced to cut way back on my expenses. I'm sure the story is similar for many pig owners across the country. Here's what I'm doing.
#1 expense: Hay.
Yes, yes. I admit it. I didn't even bother ordering it online. I bought it in those 48-96oz. plastic bags at the pet store. It cost me a fortune. To those of you who think you're getting a great deal paying $60 for 25lbs. of hay, I say, GO LOCAL!
Get your hay from a feed mill or a local farmer. It took me less than half an hour to find decent hay around here. $4 for 40lbs. of it. The guy I got it from even offered to deliver it since he works right near my house. So in three or four months when I run out all I have to do is haul it from his truckbed to my basement.
How to find local hay by the bale:
My first and best suggestion is Craigslist. Some sections of Craigslist are sketchy and should be avoided, but the farm+garden section is not one of them. do a search for 'hay' and you will most likely be overloaded with ads. You can narrow it down based on what quality of hay you want. If your pigs are picky, search for 'horse hay' or '2nd cutting hay'. depending on how good the season was, some places may have 3rd cutting, but it's not something I've found in the past few years.
My second suggestion is to try your local feed mill. They likely have hay by the bale, and while this is sometimes not the best stuff, the same terms apply. Ask for horse hay, or 2nd cutting, or be straightforward and tell them "I want the greenest bale of hay in your loft"
How to store a bale:
There are many solutions to the storage-space pickle that 40lbs of hay puts you in. The way I do it is I got a cardboard box from Sears, zip-tied that together, cut a hole in the [broadside] top and throw it in the basement.
Our basement is leak-free and has a dehumidifier. This is by far the easiest and cheapest way to do it.
You can also use several plastic storage bins, though this can be messy and is typically more space-consuming, some people find it easier because they can keep one of the the bins in their pigs' room/near their enclosure and just swap them out.
if you want something sturdier or more waterproof/raised up/prettier than these options, you can use a found object. I know someone who found an old chest with two doors that opened at the front. She removed the legs and repositioned them so that the doors opened upwards, not outwards. I also know that when my mother gets rid of her old clawfoot tub, that's going straight into my basement to store my hay in style.
You can store hay any way you want, really, so long as it's not in a moist environment and so long as its out of direct sunlight, all will be well.
I have seven guinea pigs, which go through a bale [40lbs] about every 3 months. That's 4 bales a year, at a cost of $5/bale [the extra dollar is for delivery], =$20 per year.
If I were to order through KMs Hayloft, I would need 160lbs per year, which would end up being approx. $240.52 per year.
And If I were to order through SweetMeadow, it would run me around $173 per year.