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Friday, November 15, 2013

Teamwork and the art of hay stacking

Organising a small team to unload and stack the hay isn't all that hard once the players have nominated themselves. The only concern would be to ensure everyone arrives roughly together and there is no wasted sitting around time. With volunteers their time is valuable and making sure you value this is important. Also the truck driver's hours are valuable to him and minimising unloading period needs to be taken into account.

So yesterday the schedule for the event was confirmed. The truck was to be loaded at 1 pm and the truck would be onsite at 5pm. The message is passed to all the players. No problem. 5 pm is cooler but the retired dairy farmer needs to be at tennis by 6.30 pm. The young dairy farmer will milk earlier. I will be there for the duration and the boss says he is coming.

Acting as the team leader I arrive at 4.30. The hayshed was been setup this this morning. Pallets sitting nearby, old loose hay raked out of the way, the pallet of fertiliser moved and the old hay stacked to one side.

The boss arrives 15 minutes later followed by the retired dairy farmer and then the young dairy farmer. Team ready. The truck which is always the weak point arrives only 15 minutes late. Perfect beginning just enough interval for the team to complete introductions and catch up briefly on current news. A final adjustment in the hay shed and agreement on roles and methodology.

We assist in removing the tarp and strapping, folding the tarp and rolling up the straps. The driver is going to man the truck and throw the bales down onto a bale on the ground aiming to roll the bale into the hayshed. The retired dairy farmer will be the stacker and the remaining three will pick up carry and pass.

At the half way point we are going well but the stacker calls time out. What we haven't taken into account is that the three carriers touch every third bale but the stacker has to manhandle every single bale. The driver is youngest and having done this every day is moving at a steady pace and not raised a sweat.

These bales are supposed to weigh 25 KG each but they don't. This is old hay which has been in storage for a while and is lighter and a bit grassy not the top grade Lucerne. But when you have to lift it vertically continuously  it is like being in the gym doing weights.

The young dairy farmer takes over as stacker and we continue. The whole task takes less than an hour and we settle down for a beer and a chat. The driver has soft drink as there is a long drive back to the depot.

An interesting aside from the driver. He has spent the last ten years at a desk in a mining company and quit recently. "I wasted a lot of years chasing the big dollars and now I'm doing what I have always loved doing. The big house is on the market and I'm down sizing"

We talk about hay, bale sizes, pricing and the amount of hand feeding occurring in the Greater Hunter Valley.

The boss is happy.

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