"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Monday, July 19, 2010

But Hay!

Yee Haw! The hay is cut, baled and in the barn! I absolutely love that feeling!! We had to hire someone to cut it this year, however; try as we might, we just couldn’t fit cutting into our schedule so that it would be done on time.  Once it was cut and drying in the field though, my husband was able to bale it on the week-end when he was off work.

I love this time of year when it is time to bale the hay. I love the heat, and the work, and the time together as a family. I love the way it looks in the field through each of the stages; I love the clean, neat rows; the familiar smell; and I love the feeling of it being stored safely in the barn for the winter.

This year, my part was minimal compared to past years. I didn’t have to buck any bales and Matt wouldn’t even let me drive the truck to pick-up the bales. I mostly just hung out with the two men in my life, so I wouldn’t miss the experience. I did get in on some raking by hand, however, as our equipment is old and sometimes doesn’t do the job it should.
Yeah, it's old...but it's ours...
As my husband ran the bailer and Matt bucked bales, I was off in my own little world of raking what the bailer had missed, so that the loose hay could be added to another row. As I worked, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the first haying experience I ever remember. It was at my grandparent’s ranch at Paradise Valley, just a little southeast of Bonners Ferry. I must have been about five years old and my family was visiting Grandpa and Grandma.  I believe my cousins were there as well. Some of my memory is foggy, but I know Grandpa was ready to bring in the hay from the fields and we kids wanted to help in the worst way. It would not really be "help"; what we really wanted, was to get a ride on that old, flat-bed Ford when it was time to pick up the bales. I remember my grandpa finally relenting as he said, “OK, but if we get out to the field and you are hot, tired, and bored, no one is going to bring you back in. You will have to stay until we are done.”

Grandpa had 80 acres on his ranch, and we were going out to the furthest corner. He must have thought we were too little to walk back in to the ranch house by ourselves. I don’t remember another thing about that ride. The only other thing I remember is the moment we turned a corner and I saw how far away that ranch house was and I realized I was hot and tired and I wanted to go back to that house. I think the rest of the kids were thinking that, too. One of us must have complained and oh boy, I knew we were in trouble. I don’t remember another thing except Grandpa was mad and we were miserable. This wasn’t at all the fun we thought that it would be. We were hot, thirsty, and the hay was scratchy and uncomfortable. Now my grandpa was an old Free Methodist preacher, who lived totally by the Word of God, so there was no misplaced wrath, or anxiety…just frustration over grandkids that did just exactly what he knew they were going to do. I don’t remember what happened next. I don’t remember if he made us finish out the ride until he was ready to go back in, or if someone took us back to the house. I don’t remember if he just decided to let us walk back by ourselves. I only remember that moment, in the sun, the heat and my discomfort. I remember turning the corner, and knowing full well I had been wrong and Grandpa had been right. The old cliche is so true: "We don't remember days, we only remember moments."  I cherish that memorable moment that is little more than a picture in my mind...but with a valuable lesson attached.

So that’s where my mind was traveling this day as we hayed.  Once I had been brought back to this place in my past, my mind continued on a wonderful journey of its own to other memories of Grandpa’s ranch. I could go on and on with those memories, and that is what I did as I worked.

I don’t know; maybe those memories and those experiences are why I love so much the haying time now. Now, granted I always worry until the job is done. I worry about whether we are going to be able to get the hay cut when it is time. I worry about whether it is going to get rained on once it is in the field, cut and drying, waiting to be baled. And I worry about whether the equipment is going to work well enough to get the job done to completion. As I said before our equipment is old. So old in fact, that it isn’t always easy to find the parts we need. St Johns Implement in Airway Heights is usually the only place that can or will help us. One time in particular when I had to go into St. Johns, the guys that worked there showed me a picture of the piece of equipment that needed the part I was requesting. We all got a good laugh, because in their parts book, there was a hand drawn picture of the exact same piece of equipment as ours; but it was being pulled by a horse!! I laughed when I told them we were still actually using that equipment and so did they. On a side note though, those guys at St. John’s are the absolute best! They never gave up until they found that part; and there has since been more than a few times they have done that for us. Businesses like St. Johns is what keeps me holding on with such fondness for the way things used to be.

So we continue each year: spraying, fertilizing, cutting, and baling…all the things it takes to get good hay. My husband got a small reward this year, when someone saw him in the field and stopped to ask him what it was we do to keep our field so weed-free. Ours was the best looking field out here the neighbor told him! I saw those tired, old shoulders stand a little straighter when my husband heard that compliment offered for no other reason than because it was true.

Anyway, not so sure my guys love haying the field as much as I do. That is understandable though, when they are the ones that do most of the work. But HAY, if nothing else, we’re making great memories and I can’t wait for the grandkids!
"The one I was looking for!"

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