The beads of perspiration forming on Monte Innes’ forehead are swelling but not yet heavy enough to succumb to gravity. It is early August, a sunny 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and he’s leaning against a large square bale amid a 480-acre strip of land along the Ohio Creek in south-central Colorado.
“This is a real harsh area to work in,” says Monte, 43, who cuts and bales hay on nearly 6,000 acres tucked piecemeal into high, arid mountain valleys up to an hour-and-a-half apart. “The cold can settle into this valley here in the winter and it’ll be 35 below for days.
“Every valley has its own microclimate,” he continues, “and in the spring and summer, rainfall can vary tremendously from one hay field to the next all within a few miles of each other. You just kind of roll with the punches.”
On this particular day, however, the Ohio Creek Valley resembles paradise. Mountains rise up around us on three sides. Most grand are the Anthracites directly to the north.
Acres worth of grass have already been cut and laid down by Monte. In an adjacent field, his wife Julie is running the baler, dropping large rectangular blocks in her wake. Across the valley lush grasses—timothy, red top, brome and clover—fed by recent, unusually heavy rains, beg to be harvested.
Monte and Julie picked up an additional 900 acres worth of hay to farm this year, in large part because of their new Hesston® by Massey Ferguson WR9770 windrower. Their new customer had seen the clean, close cut the Inneses had achieved on a nearby property and realized his existing custom balers were leaving money in the fields.
“This is the third RazorBar disc header we’ve had, and we wouldn’t own anything else,” Monte says. “We get all the hay. It is a clean cut an inch from the ground.”
He also appreciates the speed with which the machine can travel. “It is awesome traveling down the road at 20 mph from one field to another,” he continues, noting how important that speed is when you’re working numerous scattered fields.
The windrower is quick in the field, too. “Today I cut 180 acres in six-and-a-half hours,” he says, “and I couldn’t have done that with any other machine.”
Their dealer, Luke Sharpe, of Sharpe Equipment and Irrigation in Salida, says that the care and ability of the operators also play a role in how well the couple do their jobs. “Monte and Julie work their butts off, and their hay quality is phenomenal,” he says.
Their new Hesston by Massey Ferguson 2170 XD baler, which is being pulled by an MF6495 tractor, is making and saving them money, too. “Our new baler is a home run for us,” Monte says.
The 2170 XD produces bales that are denser, heavier. Because of that, they can now get 26 to 27 tons of hay on a semi trailer truck for shipment, rather than 22 tons.
“That saves us about 50 loads per season,” says Monte, “which saves us about $25,000 in shipping costs.”
As for the tractor, “it is phenomenal on fuel running the baler,” Monte says. “I kept calling the dealership saying, ‘I think the fuel gauge is wrong.’
“It wasn’t broke; it was just getting that much better fuel economy.”