Hay bale art
Farming and tourism often go hand-in-hand. Or in some cases, “hay-in-hand”. Nick Hunter of Chariton, Iowa and other creative locals took part in a hay bale art contest throughout Lucas County. Giant snowmen, cats, and caterpillars are just a few of the 31 cleverly decorated sculptures meant to bring out the community’s sense of humor.
Hunter says the area has rolling hills and is susceptible to erosion, so it’s not as suitable for row crops. He hopes the contest brings awareness to how hay and pastures are protecting the soil and ground water, and providing feed for livestock.
"It’s a fun activity, and it gets people out in the county in roads and corners of the county that they’ve never been to, so it’s great for people in town to get out in the country. They’ve lived here their whole life but not really even then been aware of what goes on out here in the farming sector," says Hunter. "People didn’t realize you have to have that big of round bales or when we stack them up high, how that works. Then there’s actually large square bales and small square bales. I think people are even becoming aware of the different sizes and shapes, and uses of the hay."
The weather was good for hay production this past summer. Hunter says many farmers donated hay to those who didn’t have their own to play with. The only stipulation was that the hay be returned to the farmer at the end of the contest so it can be used on the farm.
"Sometimes the hay does suffer some degradation from the weather, especially if you set a bale up on the end, water will run in it," says Hunter. "But, people just feel it’s more valuable to continue and expand on it, and if there are some sacrifices there are, but it’s all for the better."
Most of the hay structures will be taken down sometime in November, but Hunter owns a Christmas tree farm. He has three giant hay snowmen on his property, and they’ll stay up to greet visitors throughout the holiday season.
See more pictures of the fancy forages on our website
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