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Mow's Every Little Thing?

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Pay close attention. There will be a quiz at the end. Do you remember the difference between hay and straw? Which one do you want for your garden? Which one do you want for your chickens, goats or horses?

Lake View Organic Farm HAY Mow as of April 11, 2023

Any kid who grew up on a farm can likely remember games of hide and seek in the hay mow or the rope swing their dad hung from the rafters. These big old barns were built to hold animal feed and bedding upstairs, and down below, space for milking and calving. For kids, the hay mow was a place to play, get out of the house or rain for awhile, or hide when chores seemed too overwhelming.

Lake View Organic Farm STRAW Mow as of April 11, 2023

Since the advent of machines that square bale, most mows are neatly stacked and not super soft for an off-the-swing landing that used to be possible when hay was just piled loosely.

These are the big doors that open to the hay mow. Notice they are on grade so the farmer can back right up to the doors. This makes loading easier when customers come for hay to feed horses, goats or chickens. A pickup truck can hold 50-60 bales when loaded by a seasoned stacker. A big horse can eat up to one small square each day, so those folks with 10-20 horses, and no hay mows of their own, need lots of hay to get through the winter. They rely on William's hay mow (West doors) to tide them over. If you notice in the two photos above that show the different ends of the mow, the level of the hay right now is much lower than straw. Why's that? Well, we sell lots of hay through the winter months and typically run out just about the time that the grass is greening up and animals can be on pasture once again. The farmer has to calculate his/her needs to determine how much he/she will have to sell. William is pretty adept with numbers and understanding the history and needs of his buyers.

Are you still confused about the difference between HAY and STRAW? Let's review.

HAY is animal feed comprised of grasses, stems, leaves and seeds of fresh plants. It is squished (conditioned, they call it) when it is cut to release the moisture, left flat to dry, raked to help it dry further and then baled. It is highly nutritious food for many animals. Did you know that chickens eat hay too? Yes, at LVOF we don't buy feed from the store for chickens, instead, they get a diet of our sunflower seeds, corn, rye, barley, oats, hay and table scraps. Yep, chickens LOVE leftovers and compostables.

STRAW, on the other hand, is not very edible. It is the byproduct of a grain harvest. After the rye, for example is cut off the plant with the combine, there is a tall stalk from the plant that is available for the farmer to use. Some farmers chop field residue and leave it lay to become organic matter that feeds the next crop, and sometimes it is mowed, raked and baled like hay because it makes great animal bedding, mulch for gardens, brown layers in a compost pile, or even walls for a playhouse!

Our hay mow shrinks through the winter, and our straw mow (East end of barn) shrinks during the growing season when folks show up for garden mulch or material for composting. Our straw is from last summer's rye harvest - a particularly nice type of straw on an organic farm because rye is allelopathic meaning it suppresses weeds. Sometimes straw can have lots of weed seeds if the organic crop has high weed pressure. Weeds are normal on an organic farm! That straw you see in garden centers or craft stores...that's surely been cut from a sprayed crop. It's pretty golden, slippery and typically full of chemicals.

If you need organic straw for your upcoming garden projects or organic hay to expand the diets of your laying hens we've got you covered. There are pallets of self-serve straw next to the farm store, but if you want to come with your pickup for a BIG load, text or call William to make arrangements (715) 222-8234.

THE FARM STORE (open daily, by the way)

We are so excited to offer our sunflower oil once again! It's seriously delicious and heart-healthy to boot! From the sunflower oil, I make a variety of salad dressings that make eating 5-10 servings of greens a day a breeze. In the freezer my sweet tooth friends will find a variety of cookies and some of William's Bananas Bread!

New to the store this week: Sprouted and Cooked Rye Berries for breakfast cereal, pilaf or to add a toothy grain to salads.


We'll be open Saturday 10-2:30 with a bowl influenced from Korea! KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN (Tofu vegetarian option), SPRING SESAME SPINACH, SCALLION PANCAKE (GF) and KIMCHI. (ORGANIC veggies from Kevin and Annelie at Good Turn Farm - woot woot!)


1) Straw is best for bedding animals or mulching around garden plants. T or F

2) Hay contains grass, stems, legumes and sometimes seeds that give animals energy. T or F

3) The Farm Store is open daily. T or F

4) The Farmhouse World Kitchen in Plum City is serving a Korean influenced lunch bowl this weekend. T or F

The answers are all true! Nice job.

Sending love from Fransconsin,


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