When I was a kid, I grew up on a farm, a working farm. We had cotton, soybeans, hay and livestock. I had spent my time chopping soybeans and cotton, and picking cotton, but it was always mind numbing monotony. The hay fields were where I loved to work. In the hay fields you weren’t bent over walking down one straight row. In the hay field you had the whole field to move around in.
Today they have these machines that make giant round bales. Back then we had the rectangular bales being spit out by the hay baler. Each bale could weigh from 65 to 85 pounds. Most people cut their hay and let it season, or dry out, for a while before it’s bailed. This is a pretty tricky endeavor because if you timed it wrong, a rainstorm could come alone the ruin an entire field of hay. Once it’s dried enough you have a harrow attached to a tractor that makes neat rows of the hay ready for the bailer to come behind and devour each long straight row.
We had a system where my father had a long sled built to be hooked up behind the baler and one man would ride the sled and grab the bales being shot out, then stack them as high as he could reach. Once the bales were stacked the man would take a long metal pole and plant it the ground in front of the hay and slide the hay off sled. Then a tractor with a trailer would pull up to the stacked hay and we would throw bale by bale up to the trailer to be stacked there. This was a good system, I guess, but I liked it when the hay baler would already had done an entire field and we would walk by the trailer and pick up each bale and throw them up.
The reason I like that was because I had a system for it. I would run forward of the tractor and trailer and face them. There were two twine strings going around the rectangular bale. I would grab the two twine strings with one hand, grab onto the back of the trailer. Just as the trailer started to pull me, I would lift the bale, plant a knee under it and shoot it up in the back of the trailer. We were constantly moving, lifting, throwing and stacking.
After a trailer was filled we would jump on top of the bales of stacked hay and ride it back to the barn. Here’s where I didn’t like hay bailing.
We had a massive barn. It was a large square with the sides and back having open spaces for cows and storing trailers of cotton. The middle portion was open space for the hay. As it said it was massive. The inside had to reach up to 40 feet and the hay would be stacked from the back, top forward. Now as with most barns there was no air movement. So if you were lucky you would be able to stay on the trailer outside and throw the hay bales into the barn where they would be picked up by someone and taken to the back to be stacked. If you weren’t lucky, you would be inside the barn. During the summer that barn was stifling, extremely hot and dusty. After a round in the barn you would come out of there looking like you had come out of, dare I say a mud pit. My Dad would always have plenty of water and when it started getting too much, we could always take breaks and get some fresh air.
I look back at it now and it was always like a new awakening getting out of that barn. While in it, I would think how miserable this is, but once I was back on the trailer in the fresh and much cooler air, riding back to the hay field my spirits always returned. It was always such a good feeling to be out in the open and it didn’t matter it was hard physical work. I was young then and took pleasure in the exertion.
Now I’m past middle age and I look back and wish I had the youthful exhilaration and energy from back then. Sadly though I don’t and that’s OK. I like being my age now. I actually used to look forward to being this age and I’m very surprised I’ve made it this far. Don’t get me wrong. A lot of things could be different and I wouldn’t complain, but I like being more settled. I’m saying a lot of things that have already been said, but youth is wasted on youth and old age is hell. But there are a few of us that find just about everything funny and don’t go off the deep end on every little thing.
BTW I’m getting sick of seeing Japan’s PM Koizumi’s visit to Graceland on the news.
OK I still go over the deep end every now and then.