Hiring out a hay farmer in WNC.

anomad

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Moderators: please feel free to direct this post where it belongs. I am just guessing.

I have a couple hay fields here in western North Carolina that I let an old horse owner bale for free. Dad entered into that agreement and he is now watching over us under the tree of life. So I kind of inherited it.

To say the hay farmer is particular is an understatement. He's only been cutting the fields once in the fall for the last couple years and I haven't been charging him anything. A motivated fella could be getting 4-6 cuts here. It's only 5-7 round bales per cut. I don't know what to do. Let this guy keep getting a pathetic yield for free. Or try to find a motivated farmer that would make the most out of the land.

Hearing myself say all that I think I know the answer. But, I am just a "computer guy" that owns some land and not familiar with how to make this happen.
 
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Heehaw

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Personally instead of worrying about how many cuttings the farmer is taking I would concentrate on if the farmer is keeping up the nutrient requirements of the fields. Taking hay off your field’s every year without fertilizing to replace the nutrients removed can have a negative affect on your soil’s health.
 
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jimh406

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You need to determine what your goal is first. It could be the farmer is doing you a favor while you think you are doing him a favor. I suggest having a conversation with him after you decide your goals. Cutting it once a year is basically equivalent to just clearing. You might be better off renting it for pasture which could add some nutrients back in to the soil.

I let a guy hay my field once. It seemed like a good idea. He cut it when it was convenient for him which had a negative impact since he waited too late in the year to hay it. As a result, I had a dead looking ugly field for months. That also decreased the quality of the hay which made us less money. Overall, it wasn't worth letting him cut it. However, if you think you can get several cuttings, you are in a different situation. I'd probably have it hayed more often or rent it for pasture.
 

anomad

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Pasture is a good idea. But then I would have to fence it in... It was pasture years ago when I was young. The cows were sold and the fences removed about 25 years ago. Some of it went to hay some of it is returning to forest.
 

D2Cat

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LOL! Asking for advice is part of figuring it out of course.
These are your words. " Hearing myself say all that I think I know the answer. But, I am just a "computer guy" that owns some land and not familiar with how to make this happen."
 

rc51stierhoff

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Well it’s not my place or money…
I guess my first question is are you claiming an ag exemption…if its hayable then You should be able to see some benefit to at least your taxes depending on how you want mange the place. If not I’d wonder why you let some one farm your land for free while you pay the taxes and they take all the rewards.

I’d contact an extension service and discuss your potential land uses and see what the cash rent value would be worth. Then consider the options. (You may find out there is some grant money available for either a variety of different programs that would supplement or earn you some money.
 
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Foxrunfarms

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My wife and I bought a hobby farm about 3 years ago. We had an acre of hay we were going to put into a pasture. I got hurt at work and it just got over grown. A buddy/neighbor of mine asked about cutting and baling it......well he didn't have the equipment so now another person is involved and some random person coming over, on their time. The field got cut and baled twice a year. It went from 7 bales down to one, and the guy cutting and baling it never liked the shape......his equipment was too big and finally said enough. So my buddy bought his own run down stuff that stayed at my place, pretty soon I was doing the work for his free bales. Being junk equipment it was down more than running and there'd be pieces of it in the field, or only half the field cut which made it crummy looking. No fertilizer was ever added like the person said they'd do. I finally said enough and just mow it myself now and use the area for family gatherings.

Another option is crp land for wildlife. The program pays more not to farm it than what most farmers are willing to pay for it.
 

NCL4701

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First thing is to define your goals for the land. Just keeping it clear, maximize income, minimize tax, have available for some use such as a secondary dwelling now or in the future, sell the property entirely and walk away. Could be all sorts of combinations of goals.

The ag extension service in NC has, in my experience, been quite helpful and knowledgeable on grants, tax reduction programs, technical information on crop production, etc. Once you have one, or maybe two, reasonably well defined set of goals I would call your local ag extension office.

If your only goal is keeping part of the place from growing up in trees, once a year man will meet that goal. That’s all he’s doing. And I wouldn’t be concerned about the impact on him because it clearly isn’t important to him. He’d get better quality hay and a lot more of it if he’d make multiple cuttings when it’s ready.
 

RMS

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Like already mentioned, it all depends on what you are looking for. I'm in a similar situation and have around 15 acres that a local farmer has been haying for the past 20 years or so and gets 2 good cuts a year. When I bought the property about 2 years ago I saw no need to change that at all. The fields are next to a river that can flood on a real heavy rain like it did earlier this year (4" in 24 hours which turned the lower field into a lake) and could never be used for a house site. The benefit to me is that I have a nice area to go to get away from everything, but I don't have to maintain it. I do keep a path mowed around the perimeter for walking and I also keep the tree line trimmed and kept in control, but being retired I consider this fun stuff to do and it gives me a chance to use my tractor.
If both of you are content with how it is right now with him getting 1 crop and you not maintaining the fields, all is good. If you are looking for some $$ then go another direction.
 

skeets

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I wonder what would happen if this guy gets hurt? Does your insurance cover him? How far away do you live from the fields you want cut? One cutting a year is bad Juju , I would bet it needs a ton of work to get the land where it should be. Sure we all like/want to help someone and maybe get some help out of it our selves. You might be better off just mowing it your self, you are still working, and have some land,,, ya might want to think maybe about using that land when you retire! Things seem to be going side ways and a hunk of land YOU can work is a good thing
 

D2Cat

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Skeets has a very valid point. You need some protection when others are on you property.

I rented hay ground the first year I had a farm. He had some calves grazing the pasture. I brought a manure spreader down on my trailer. I was intending to roll it off and leave. Ben was there and came over to inquire, then offered to help unload. I was on a slight slope and all I had to do was remove tie downs, pick up tongue and get it started on the trailer ramps, and let it go. The spreader was a small one that was given to me and I primarily wanted the new tires on it.

The tenant, after being told several times no help needed, picked up the tongue and started doing what I was going to do. One tire snagged on something (on the ramp alignment I think), the tongue came over and walloped him on his ankle.

That incident became a law suit two years later.

Going through deposition and getting tenant removed wasn't work the rental income!!!!!