Danny Rumph's Cryin' Coyote Ranch sits in the midst of horse country near Houston, TX. It's the best place to be when you have 50,000 square bales of quality Coastal bermudagrass to market.

“I really am in a good location,” agrees Rumph, who also sells a yearly average of 70 18-wheeler loads of New Mexico alfalfa.

“When we started doing hay here at the ranch 10 years ago, most everything I sold was to the bovine market,” he says. “For some cattlemen, the cheaper the hay, the better. They'd rather buy a $20 round bale full of weeds than a good-quality $40 round bale.”

Then Rumph discovered that a lot of people in his Hempstead area were driving up to 100 miles to buy good-quality horse hay.

“I figured that I could sell a square bale of hay for $2.50 to a cattleman or a good-quality bale of hay to a horse person for $4.50.”

By making his Coastal bermudagrass fields “immaculate, removing every weed out there and staying on top of them on a regular basis,” Rumph also made a good name for himself.

“We're working diligently toward providing good-quality hay year-round.”

Rumph says 70% of his clients pick up their bales at his two hay barns; he delivers to the rest of them. “Some alfalfa customers buy 200-300 bales at a time, so we take them off the 18-wheeler and load them onto my trailers to deliver.” All his alfalfa is trucked in from one grower in Artesia, NM.

Yet for Rumph to supply quality bermudagrass, he has to meet several challenges.

One major hurdle: the armyworm. “That's the biggest problem as far as insects. If it's too wet or too dry, those armyworms appear. We had to spray for them twice last year. If we didn't, they could wipe out 100 acres in four days and we'd have nothing but stems left.”

His solution: constant monitoring followed by timely spraying.

Rumph's biggest challenge is a direct east wind from the Gulf of Mexico.

“We have so much humidity during the summer. It can be 98° and difficult to get hay dry.” So Rumph watches the weather reports and tries to cut hay when no east winds are in the forecast for at least seven days.

“Sometimes we have to cut hay earlier than the 26-28 days of growth we like to cut at. Then there are times when we can't get in until it's at 31-32 days of growth.”

Although Rumph says most of his horse clients are only concerned about the color of the hay they buy, he wants to provide hay at the right maturity. “The more mature hay doesn't have a soft touch to it. And that's very important for consumption by horses and, certainly, for digestibility.

“I make sure it's not overly mature and has been cured properly,” he adds.

But sometimes it's not possible to get the hay cured and baled well enough for the horse market, Rumph says. “If we run into situations where it's not a good cutting or it got wet, I'll put that into round bales and feed it to my cattle.”

He has 55 registered Hereford cows bred to Brahma bulls, producing the Golden Certified Tiger Stripe.

Besides Coastal bermudagrass, Rumph has grown Tifton 85 on about 28 acres for the past five years. It wasn't a popular feed — until this year. “I seem to have had more phone calls this year on the Tifton 85, but I don't want to expand that market. It's difficult to grow and cure Tifton 85 in this market.”

Rumph also breeds and boards horses, providing riding trails and a lighted arena. Check out his Web site at www.cryincoyoteranch.com; you'll find he breeds Border Collies and sells portable buildings and horse tack as well.