More from: hay tarps

Basic Principles of Hay Tarp Safety

While conducting a brief review of past blog posts, it occurred to us that it would be a good idea to share safety tips involving hay tarps. We talk a lot about trucker safety for cargo control, but apparently the topic of hay tarp safety hasn’t been addressed. This post aims to change that.

It is important to start an ongoing discussion centered around using hay tarps safely, beginning with this post covering a few basic principles. We may produce future posts that get into more advanced principles for hay stacking, tarping, and moisture control.

If you are looking for a way to protect your hay without using a barn or storage shed, Mytee Products has several options to choose from. We carry a full line of hay tarps along with temporary storage structures made with galvanized steel pipe and heavy-duty PE fabric.

And now, on to the basic principles of hay tarp safety.

Principle #1: Limit the Size of Your Stacks

We never cease explaining to truckers how dangerous it is to walk on the top of a load to secure tarps. In fact, we recommend avoiding the practice if at all possible. The same applies to stacks of hay. Every new layer you add to a stack also adds height. If your stacks are too high, you may find you have to climb on top in order to properly secure tarps. Remember: with height comes increased danger in the event of a fall.

It is best to limit your stacks to 10 or 12 feet, at the most. If you do have to climb on top, make sure you use an extension ladder long enough to elevate you above the top of the stack as you climb on. Attempting to get on top of a stack using a stepladder is just not wise.

Principle #2: Don’t Tarp Under Windy Conditions

Avoid attempting to deploy tarps on windy days. Hay growers, like truck drivers, sustain a good number of their tarp-related injuries as a result of wind catching tarps. If you absolutely must deploy a tarp on a windy day, make sure you stand up wind of your haystack. Then, if the wind does catch the tarp, it will blow away from you instead of against you.

Principle #3: Get Help When Tarping

Hey tarps are a lot heavier than you might think. Therefore, do yourself a favor and get help when you are ready to cover your hay. There is no need to be a hero by trying to tarp yourself. Being a hero could result in a hernia, a back injury, or something worse.

Principle #4: Wear Protective Gear

You will most likely be using straps or bungee cords to secure your tarps. As such, you should wear head and eye protection. You never know when something could snap back and strike you with enough force to knock you on your backside. The last thing you need is a head or eye injury.

Principle #5: Check Grommets before Deploying

With the exception of damaged seams, the weakest link on any hay tarp is its grommets. You can go a long way toward remaining safe by inspecting every grommet prior to deployment. If a grommet appears even slightly damaged or loose, do not use it. Either get the tarp fixed or work around the grommet in question.

At Mytee Products, we firmly believe in the safety-first mindset. We encourage our hay tarp customers to use the utmost care when covering hay stacks this fall. Your hay can be replaced; you cannot be.


Driving into Canada – Watch Your Flatbed Trailers

American truck drivers hauling flatbeds in Canada during October and November should pay close attention to their trailers and cargo control techniques. Canadian officials are preparing to launch their annual falls blitz, with a special emphasis on flatbed trailers. Although the campaign targets shippers and receivers instead of truckers, some drivers could incidentally be caught up in the blitz if they do not secure cargo properly.

The Ontario Ministry of Labor conducts a falls blitz every year in order to improve safety relating to slips, trips, and falls. They look at ladders and other equipment used in mining, construction, healthcare, and industry. This year, the Ontario Trucking Alliance (OTA) has asked the Ministry to pay special attention to flatbed trailers and truck safety.

The OTA and Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) are especially concerned about safety when loading and unloading flatbeds. They say improper cargo control procedures can lead to loads falling on vulnerable drivers. They say that the risk of injury and death among drivers is unnecessarily high.

Also at issue are the many things outside the control of truck drivers. Examples include shipper and receiver ground maintenance, lighting, and tarping policies. For example, the CTA says it is common for shippers to not allow truck drivers to apply tarps in their yards. This forces drivers onto the roads where they have to tarp while worrying about traffic.

Driver Responsibility Still Important

While the trucking industry portion of Canada’s falls blitz focuses mainly on shippers and receivers, truck drivers still have that ever-important responsibility of making sure cargo is properly secured. Regardless of what happens in the shipping yard, a driver is ultimately responsible for his or her cargo once the truck leaves the yard. That does not change regardless of any action shippers and receivers fail to take to improve safety.

As a flatbed driver yourself, you know the importance of sound cargo control practices. You are aware that the federal government requires you to properly secure all cargo prior to departure, and to ensure that said cargo remains secure throughout your journey. You also know there are right and wrong ways to use everything from chains to ratchet straps to tarps.

If you are planning to travel into Canada over the next couple of months, we encourage you to take extra precautions with your flatbed cargo. Once the falls blitz is over, continue to be just as diligent with every load you carry. It only takes one momentary lapse of carelessness to create a dangerous situation.

We Have Just What You Need

As a retailer of cargo control equipment, Mytee Products has everything you need to travel safely. Our inventory begins with basic cargo control supplies like straps and chains. But we do not stop there. We also carry corner and edge protectors, bungee straps, load bars, E-track, and more.

In the tarp department we have everything you need to cover a variety of loads. Coil, lumber, steel, and smoke tarps are just the beginning. We also carry hay tarps for farmers and mesh tarps for construction companies, landscapers, and even homeowners.

Earlier this year, American truckers were subjected to the annual international road check enforcement blitz. Interestingly enough, the 2017 event focused heavily on cargo control pertaining to flatbed loads. Is it a coincidence that the Canadian blitz is also taking a serious look at flatbeds? Maybe, and maybe not. Either way though, do yourself and the industry a favor by being extra cautious with cargo. Give cargo control the attention it deserves and you will have nothing to worry about.

Sources:

Today’s Trucking – https://www.todaystrucking.com/inspectors-should-look-at-flatbed-safety-ota


A Few Fall Reminders for Hay Tarps

It is that time of year again when growers are starting to think about winter hay storage. Every year, there is that nagging question of whether to go with tarps or store excess hay in the barn. That is considering a grower even has a barn to work with. Those who do not are forced to rely on hay tarps or temporary storage structures.

The debate over whether to use tarps or not comes largely from the less gleeful stories we hear every spring about crop loss resulting from tarp failure. The first thing to understand is that no storage solution is perfect. The second thing to note is that much of the effectiveness of hay tarps lies in how they are deployed. With that in mind, below are a few fall reminders for those growers intending to tarp their hay this winter.

1. Pay Attention to How You Stack

One of the biggest problems growers face is snow and ice. When a stack is not constructed properly, it allows certain portions of the hay tarp to lay flat and, as a result, collect precipitation. Get enough snow and ice built up and it could be nearly impossible to remove a tarp when hay is needed in early spring. The best way to avoid this problem is to pay attention to how you stack.

Hay stacking should really be done in a-frame or pyramid shape if you are planning to use tarps. Giving the stack a sharp enough incline will make it easier for precipitation to roll off. You still may have to go out to sweep your stacks after an especially persistent snowfall, but clearing an inclined stack is a lot easier than clearing a flat stack. It is a lot safer too.

2. Check Your Tie Downs

Any experienced tarp user will tell you that the key to avoiding most problems is keeping hay tarps tight and secure. Doing so requires that tie downs be checked on a regular basis. Remember that even the slightest bit of wind underneath a tarp can cause big problems in both the short and long terms. Checking once a week should be sufficient. Tie downs should definitely be checked immediately after storms to assess the extent of wind damage.

3. Utilize PVC Pipe

Another common complaint among hay growers is that the grommets built into their tarps fail in severe weather. We suggest a tarp with webbing loops or a built-in sleeve capable of accommodating PVC pipe. Securing tie-downs with PVC pipe results in a much stronger system than tying down with grommets alone. You can still use the grommets along with bungee straps for a little extra strength.

4. Inspect Tarps during the Fall

Last but not least is the reminder to check all your hay tarps in the fall. Do not wait until you start stacking hay to find out that one or more of your tarps is ripped or torn. Now is the time to address any damage while you’re not under pressure to get that hay cut and stacked.

Minor damage can be repaired with one of our tarp repair kits. Major damage, like torn seams for example, may require a more heavy-duty solution. You can obviously browse our selection of farming supplies should any of your tarps need complete replacement.

Fall is harvest time in North America. In just a few months, the snow will be flying and the temperatures falling. If you plan to store hay this winter, make sure you are fully prepared with everything you need. Mytee Products carries high-quality hay tarps, spiral anchor pins, and temporary storage structures.


When Hay Tarps Need A Little Help To Do the Job

Farmers who count on hay to supplement their income cannot afford to lose any of their crop. Hay prices seldom experience a lot of fluctuation, and growers do worry about mold and combustion. They do not need additional problems created by critters who happen to find their hay crops inviting. Farmers know that sometimes those critters can be so challenging that they need an additional layer of help so hay tarps can do their job successfully.

Hay stacks should definitely be covered by something. Whether that something is a collection of hay tarps or the roof of a barn, that is entirely up to the farmer, but keeping hay covered is essential to protecting its value. Then other measures should be taken if critters become a problem. For the purposes of illustration, we will talk about rabbits, elk, and deer.

Rabbits in Idaho

Over this past winter and spring, there were numerous reports out of Idaho involving an exploding jack rabbit population. Apparently, jack rabbit populations in the Gem State are cyclical in nature. Every 4 to 5 years there is a population explosion that causes big problems for hay farmers. The winter of 2016/2017 proved to be one with a significant jack rabbit population.

The rabbits are not afraid to help themselves to hay stacks when winter weather prevents them from foraging elsewhere. The problem was so bad this past winter that growers had to take to patrolling their hay stacks during the overnight hours to keep the animals away. Some were going so far as to hire friends and family members to take shifts so that coverage would be there all night.

Rabbits cause problems with hay in two ways. First, they chew around the base of hay stacks as they feed. Extensive chewing will destabilize a stack, potentially causing it to come crashing down. Even if that doesn’t happen, there’s a second problem: chewing rabbits can break through baling twine with no problem at all. The combination of instability and broken twine makes loading hay bales a lot more difficult.

Elk and Deer

When elk and deer are a problem for hay stacks, it could be for one of two reasons. First is the same kind of problem that the jack rabbits create. Foraging elk and deer destabilize hay stacks whenever they feed. The destabilization isn’t usually a serious though because elk and deer feed higher up on the stack. But there is a second issue that can create bigger headaches.

Elk and deer have a habit of getting their antlers entangled in hay tarps and anchor ropes. If they get tangled too tightly, they can completely rip down a hay tarp in an attempt to escape. Then the farmer has to replace the tarp and rope in addition to working on any damage done to his property and the hay stack.

So what are hay farmers to do? In Idaho, the Department of Fish and Game has already funded programs for farmers looking to fence their hay stacks. The right kind of fencing can keep deer and elk out. The department may look into funding a solution for the jack rabbits next winter if it looks like another year of unusually high numbers of rabbits.

A jack rabbit solution would be something similar to a mesh screen that could be placed around the base of a stack. Combining both a mesh screen and a decent fence could all but eliminate the risk of critters harming stored hay. Then it would be back to ensuring hay tarps are deployed in such a way as to protect against moisture and debris.

Sources:

Capital Press – http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20170306/east-idaho-hay-farmers-lose-sleep-over-jackrabbits


How to Use Hay Tarps for Covering and Composting

We have dedicated previous blog posts to discussing the proper use of hay tarps for protecting stored hay on the farm. It turns out that many of the things farmers have to be concerned about with hay storage are actually good for another practice. Furthermore, that other practice is made better with the use of hay tarps.

What is the practice being referenced here? It is the practice of composting. Farms are great places for composting because there are so many natural materials readily available. A farm with a good composting strategy can reduce its need for chemical fertilizers while also reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfills or burn piles.

Covering Hay with Tarps

Before we discuss using hay tarps for composting, a quick refresher about covering hay is in order. Farmers who choose to use hay tarps over barns or purpose-built structures do so for a number of reasons, among them being flexibility and portability. The tarps are also used to protect bales of hay in the field until they can be collected.

As you might remember from previous posts, the key to covering hay with tarps is to avoid excessive moisture while still allowing hay bales to breathe. Bales that are wrapped too tightly in tarps are bales that cannot breathe. This can cause heat buildup that might eventually lead to spontaneous combustion.

On the other hand, covering bales too loosely can allow excess moisture to penetrate the hay. A good rain storm is all it takes. Moisture leads to mold, mildew, and eventual losses. As you can see, there is that fine line that has to be observed when covering hay with tarps.

Hay Tarps and Composting

Composting is the practice of combining certain kinds of biodegradable material in a large pile and allowing it to decay over time. In reality, the soil under our feet is partly the result of thousands of years of composting. That’s another topic for another post, though. For the purposes of this post, we want to talk about composting on the farm.

A general rule of thumb for good composting is to combine natural materials by focusing on color. You want equal parts green, brown, and other colors. That means composting things such as grass clippings, hay, expired fruits and vegetables, and so on. All the material is combined in a composting bin or in a large pile well away from any structures.

Where does the hay tarp come in? Covering a compost heap with a hay tarp traps heat and moisture in the pile. This speeds up the decomposition process considerably. You can do even better by removing the tarp from time to time, turning the pile over, soaking it with water, and putting the tarp back on. Regular turning over and soaking minimizes the amount of time necessary for decomposition.

You do not have to worry about heat and moisture in a compost pile because there is no danger of spontaneous combustion. Obviously, mold and mildew are not a concern either. You can cover a compost pile with a tarp and forget about it until the next time it needs to be turned over.

Mytee Has Your Hay Tarps

In addition to our large selection of truck tarps, Mytee Products also carries hay tarps for agricultural uses. Our hay tarps are made of heavy-duty, 8-ounce polyethylene fabric that has been treated for UV resistance and waterproofing. They are tough enough to withstand the harshest conditions on your farm. When you are ready to purchase, don’t forget the 16″ spiral anchor pins.