Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Those Loaf Things

While driving through almost the entire State of Utah this past weekend, I saw a lot of hay fields, no doubt "first crop". The first crop was the heaviest and came in June. The second crop was ready 4-6 weeks later. If you were lucky you got a third and perhaps tiny fourth crop; then it was into hauling straw after the fall grain harvest. Hauling straw makes you feel very strong.

The memories took me back. The hay-hauling itself doesn't hold any good spots in the memory bank, and thankfully I don't remember the time before baling, the days of derricks and forks and farmhands stacking it by hand. It was SO much work, always SO hot, and seemed SO thankless. There were always leaves flying down your neck and pokey things scraping you and sometimes the twine would give way and you'd have a big mess to gather up. Those alfalfa bales could weigh a horrendous amount if packed tightly. Some of them were even hard to roll. Dad used to try to make smaller bales, "lady bales", or something he called them. We got good at loading them and tying the special knot on the back of the load. He was proud of us, not a slacker in the bunch. It was always such a roll of the dice as to whether or not it would rain at the wrong time, or hail or blow, or all three. If you stacked bales that had moisture in them, your haystack and barn could all burn down from heat combusion...plus they could rot and make the cows sick. (Farmers don't have it easy.)

Anyway, it was so fun to see Dad out cutting down the hay. Raking it was easy, since you got to ride the tractor all day. The hardest part of raking was not getting sunburned. The smell of newly-mown hay is wonderful, better than fresh cut lawn even. (I suspect this is why I splurged and bought my red riding mower a few years ago, all the fun part and none of the work, simulated farming if you will.)

The gigantic bales of hay out in the fields from this weekend, created by special gigantic machinery, reminded me of a comment somebody once made: "What are those big loaves doing out in the field there?" It made me laugh.

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