A guest contribution and pearls of wisdom from Lois Mundell after a lifetime in the business.
- Book in early and state clearly what you want the contractor to do. For example, do you want mowing and baling, or baling only, or the whole job done including putting it in your hayshed?
- Once in the system don't try to jump the queue. Contractors know that all their customers want their hay in "yesterday" so they can go to the beach for Christmas.
- If the contractor is to do the whole job, trust his judgement about the readiness of the crop. But remember he isn't God and can't control the weather. Sometimes the sky opens up when you least expect it and the hay will get wet. That’s not the contractor’s fault.
- Use your biggest paddocks if possible and make sure that they are free of hidden junk. The baler is very allergic to snig chains, electric fence standards, abandoned wire, harrows, etc.
- Try to be around when the hay is due to be mown so that the gates are open, and the prize animals are safely confined.
- Keep in touch with the contractor once the hay has been cut, and learn to judge when it’s ready to bale. Don't panic if rain threatens – there’s no point in baling hay that is not ready.
- Make sure that you have arranged for the hay to be picked up. This is not part of the contractor’s job. He will organise it if asked to, but this needs to be by prior arrangement.
- Above all, be kind to the contractor’s wife/partner. She cops all the flack on the phone and only gets to the beach during the winter!