This evening I saw M heading up to the last round bale and I assumed she might need help pulling off a couple layers to throw over to the cows. This last bale was of less than stellar quality and we had intended to get it in to one of the cow paddocks already, but the all the rain had kept us from doing much of anything so it just sat there, undisturbed.
So anyway, as I approached M I saw a huge white cloud billowing out of the hay. At first I thought it was mold or mildew, but no… it was steam. The hay was composting and very nearly on fire. So with daylight fading and Jim at work, M and I fought with that massive bale until we finally were able to flip it over and unroll it. It was so hot on the inside that I very nearly burned my hand and the sleeve of my jacket was hot from the steam. At the core it was perfectly dry and smoking, not steaming, so I think it may not have been too long before it had actually caught fire. But once we got it all unrolled it cooled and I’ve checked it several times since and it’s fine although my hands still smell like rotting hay and my jacket smells like toasted oats.
This is exactly why I will never store hay in a horse barn, but will always have a dedicated hay barn. I know that it’s usually green hay that is blamed for barn fires, but any hay that gets wet can start composting and therefore produce enough heat to burn. And that’s just not worth the risk to me!
On a lighter note… why do these things only happen when Jim’s not here to enjoy it?