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Ideas for creatively transporting round bales

 
steward
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I have a nearby neighbor who has several round bales of hay he wants to be rid of. He said each of these bales is equivalent to 15 square bales. Yay for me! The problem is with transportation. Both of his tractors are needing repair, so he cannot deliver. The ground is sopping wet, so no pickups can traverse the pasture. This also makes the bales heavier too. My immediate thought is to roll the bales close to his driveway, about 50 feet, open the bale and pitchfork it into a borrowed small truck, making a couple of loads per bale. (The owner feels that a full round bale would be too much weight for his truck.)

My place is about 1/2 a mile by road to where the bales are. If we could roll it by hand accross his back pasture, the distance is about half, and is mostly downhill. However, I forsee a week or two on the couch for recovery using this method.

As an aside, he has horses, and belatedly learned there were foxtails in the feild this hay was harvested from, so cannot feed it to his horses. I'm planning to pile the mulch pretty thick, so I'm not worried about the weed seeds.

Any body have other ideas?
 
gardener
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Joylynn,

Sounds like you might be on to the best option given what is available.  I would think that 15 bales would be a lot to un-bale and load into a truck.  1-2 would be a challenge, but 30 equivalent square bales is hard to pass up.

I suppose you could go rent a skid steer or tractor with a bale spear and you could make quick work of things, but you would have to pay for it then.

I will be interested to see how things work out.

Eric
 
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I may be thinking *way* outside the box here, but:
Can you slide a sturdy pipe through the bale? (since they use "bale spears" to move them, I'm thinking it should be possible.)
Then can you think in terms of the bale now being a giant wheel with an axle?
Then to get it near the driveway, can you use a winch or a ratchet (some people call them "come-alongs") with chain to move it to the driveway. One end of the winch or ratchet has to be fastened to something heavy enough that the bale moves rather than the winch! Also make *sure* things aren't under-engineered. Think in terms of wire rope and heavy chain, not something wimpy that could break and fling back and hurt the operator!!!
If that part works, could you hook the chain to the back of the truck and *very* gently and slowly "roll" it home?

My theory is that if they use logs and people to move huge rocks, there will be a "simple technology" method to do this. I *totally* agree that you want be walking on and especially driving on the field as little as possible, as that's very hard on wet ground, and we want to collect this wonderful hay without leaving a mess for the neighbor!
 
Joylynn Hardesty
steward
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Hmmm... If we were on flatter terrain, yes. His driveway has a portion that is about 25-degree slope, at least 50 feet of it. This gives me visions of the bale denting the back of the truck.
 
pollinator
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Any chance of a good freeze that would let trucks get to where the bales are?

Any other neighbours have a tractor you could access somehow?

I have rolled round bales maybe 30ft, out of the back of a truck into the desires tight spot. Takes 3 reasonably strong/large people minimum IMO. This was to deal with a couple bales at a time.

 
gardener
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Rolling the round bales is tough work even under the best of circumstances. If it happens to get out of control on a hill it is, well, out of control & potentially lethal. So be aware of that.

Is composting in place an option? Would be less to move later.

Round bales usually unroll fairly well. Then use a piece of plywood or tarp to move sections of that into a truck bed. Fairly quick & easy. A wheelbarrow might be faster & easier for just one person.
 
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Rolling the bale across the field is one challenge.  Then pulling it apart with a pitchfork and into the back of a truck is another challenge altogether.

I have pulled apart a round bale with a pitchfork before, and it is a fair bit of work. The hay is also fairly compressed, so it will be a high volume as well once you pull it apart - just something to keep in mind, as it will likely take more than a couple of trips in the truck once it is pulled apart and loaded up.

Any other farmers nearby with a tractor?  You would definitely save a whole lot of time and effort if you could get a tractor to help in this situation - would be well worth paying them something or trading one or two of the bales for their help.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
steward
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Generally my main muscle is only available for weekends, which have all been soggy lately. However, we are coming up on a holiday next Monday! And Sunday night will reach 19 degrees F! High Monday of 31 degrees. We may have a winner! There is a rather large area in the front yard that is flatish. Maybe there would be no slipy sliding!

On the other hand, would the bales be frozen to the ground? I guess that wouldn't matter if I don't have to roll them though.
 
steward & bricolagier
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Can said horses move them?
 
Joylynn Hardesty
steward
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It has been years since my eyes have seen them with a saddle on. Never hitched up to anything, pulling. They look fit, with the run of two-plus acres, excluding their barn. But who really knows, maybe they load them and haul them somewhere to ride.
 
master steward
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Can you roll them onto a low trailer?  Good excuse to buy a trailer
 
pollinator
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I wonder if a wrapped round bale would hold its shape if cut in half? Most of the videos on cutting bales revolve around deploying hay for livestock, not for moving the bales. Was wondering if two people used a two handled saw worked down through the center of a round bale if it would hold its shape, thereby ending up with a round bale half the weight and width of a full bale, so half of 1800 lbs? That size would be small enough that it could be winched or even muscled onto a pickup truck or small trailer. You see a lot of farmers cutting up their bales in various ways including using a chainsaw.

This is an interesting video of a farmer unrolling a bale using a purpose built contraption pulled behind an atv
 
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you might be able to drag them with a vehicle, wrap tows straps or cargo binding straps or chain around bale and pull with truck. just a thought about the matter
 
James Whitelaw
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The issue with dragging from the description is one way would cross boggy fields and the other down a driveway and along a road.
 
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echoing what's been said here, those bales are very, very heavy. if you roll, be very careful, it seems like a ball of fluff but on a slope I imagine them getting out of control really quickly.
i would see what I could do to finagle a tractor (or a repair to your neighbor's tractor-- that might be more worth your while in terms of neighborly relations, and considering what you would have to pay someone to move the bales, might work out better). In high school I used to help a friend out on her parents' cattle farm and moving bales was part of what we did, those things are crazy heavy (even with weights in the front of a big, big tractor I still had it up on its back wheels with a round bale stuck on the back).
 
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote: Any body have other ideas?



Well, my Grandfather used either a horse or a team of horses to pull stuff on a 'slide', which was made of heavy timber. I've seen modern ones made of welded pipe. In this instance, you'd lay the roll on its flat side and get the horse/s to pull it to where you want it.






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As F Agricola suggests, some kind of sled sounds good to me. You could put together a temporary one with scrap lumber.
I've been around a lot of round bales, but mostly with tractors. If there's any way to beg or borrow one, that's the way to go. One thing I saw, when delivering round bales to someone without much equipment, was a large spike that could be hammered into the bale so that a chain and vehicle could pull it off a trailer. They also had a giant hook that could be spiked into the bale to roll it.
If you have a long enough arrangement of chains, cables, comealongs, and any trees, maybe some pulleys or snatch blocks to make it easier, I can imagine someone moving a round bale pretty far by hand. Not sure if its easier than breaking it apart though.
 
pollinator
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In the video James posted above, the farmer said he was unrolling it backwards. To me that sounds like these rolls _will_ come apart if the wrapping is removed, one way or another. Maybe something to take into consideration.

I'll add to all the others: they are _heavy_. The farmer in the video said the one he had was 1800#. Barring more specialized equipment, the sled seems, maybe, possible. With something that might be 1-1/2 (my math head was scewed) 3/4  tons, dragged over rough ground... Just slamming something together with trash wood and sheet rock screws might not hack it, though.

When approaching this event, you may want to consider the various ways you will end up exiting. What I mean is that if you spend 4 hours setting up and then the sled gets trashed and the wrapping comes off the bale - is it OK to just leave the pile where is and slink home? Or will you be _required_ to come back and somehow clean everything up? Again, is it ok to try to roll it cross country, fail and leave the bale wherever it falls?  Where I come from, you touch it, you own it. From that moment on it's on you to make the situation completely whole.

So  might be good to fully clarify with your neighbor the various ways this could end and what he would be OK with. It _sounds_ like the bales are secured with good wrappings. If that is not correct, moving them becomes much more uncertain. But, if they are secured properly, your neighbor is at least in the right position to get them removed with proper equipment. IF you break up a bale that is no longer true and your neighbor will have much more trouble getting rid of it.


Regards,
Rufus
 
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I used to have a job where among other things, we moved 10 ton safes into and out of buildings and even up stairs.  I was the newbie, but I learned quick.

There are a couple of key points when moving something heavy.  
1.  Don't be in a hurry, take your time and think it through.  You may spend more effort making sure it doesn't get away from you.
2.  You need a hard, smooth base (2 layers).  (We carried fairly heavy gauge sheets of steel.  You probably need some heavy plywood or at least 2 x 4s).  You need 2 so as you move the weight off of base A onto base B, you can reposition base A so it becomes base C.
3.  Between the two layers you position pipes, which are your rollers.
4.  You can move it by pushing, come along, pry bars, whatever.
5.  You are talking about moving a fair distance and this is a big project.  I'll be interested to see how you do it.
 
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