Bringing Home the Harvest
It has been hot – and yes, my Texas friends, that does mean that it’s been over 80 degrees!
You’ve all heard the expression “Make hay while the sun shines”. Well the sun is shining and the fields are full of farmers bringing in the harvest. This has been a tough hay year. It has been rain, shine, rain, shine, which the hay has appreciated tremendously, however, the farmers – not so much. It has been a monumental task trying to get the hay into the barn in between thunderstorms and rain showers. Last week we even had a summer deluge complete with quarter-sized hailstones and downed trees – all while hay lay in the fields.
Our closest neighbor has about 40 acres in hay. Most of that she puts up for her 30 cow/calf pairs, but one 10 acres field (closest to our property line) she groomed specifically for exportation. “Farmer Green” had made arrangements with a farmer that regularly exports hay to swath and bale her small field and bundle it with his, netting her a tidy sum of $6,000.00.
While the sky’s were blue and the weather was cooperating, Farmer Green swathed, baled and stacked all of the hay from her other fields neatly into her barn, sighed a sigh of relief and waited expectantly for “Farmer Brown” to take care of her small front field.
One fine morning, Farmer Brown showed up in his huge swather and had all of Farmer Green’s hay down within hours. Gorgeous, huge windrows filled the field, enhancing the already charming landscape. They hay lay on the ground, day after day, drawing a worried Farmer Green to the field for regular inspections. And then, the rains came. And came again. Followed by a huge storm. The hay was ruined. Farmer Brown, now disappointed with the quality no longer wanted the hay. It was time for Plan B.
Plan B rested on another farmer that wanted the hay for his cattle. He didn’t mind a bit of brown in the hay. It was lush and thick and fine for his stock. He made arrangements with Farmer Green to fluff and bale her front field. It was perfect – he was going to use his round baler (huge bales) and load them onto his truck with his tractor – she wouldn’t have to touch a thing! Again Farmer Green waited. And again, disappointment. Plan B flopped and she was once again faced with 10 acres of swathed hay, and no equipment big enough to handle the large windrows and no hay crew to wrangle the bales.
Enter Master Hand Grenade and Miss Serenity. Farmer Green called early Saturday morning and requested her favorite hay crew. Of course Hand Grenade and Serenity willingly agreed. Little did they know what they were getting themselves into! This was no regular haying job. Before they could bale this hay, they had to fluff it so that it would dry properly and be fit for baling. Unfortunately, the windrows were so huge that the fluffer Farmer Green had was too small to do an adequate job. Hand Grenade and Serenity’s job was to finish turning the hay, by hand – all 10 acres! Armed with pitchforks and a good attitude, they set to work. As the sun set in the evening and the temperatures cooled, Dragon Snack and Master Calvin joined their older siblings in their hay fluffing adventures. Even the little ones put in a good days work!
|Serenity and Hand Grenade directing their crew|
|Master Calvin wielding his pitchfork|
After two days of fluffing hay, the baler went to work. Kachunk, Kachunk, Katchunk, the baler labored until 1 o’clock in the morning, baling over 40 tons of hay. Hand Grenade and Serenity bucked bales, earning every callous on their hands, until 10:30 last night. Their morning wake-up call was 4:30 a.m. By 5 O’clock the kids were back in the field, loading hay onto the hay trailer. They had a brief respite about 7:30 – just long enough to have a quick breakfast (together they ate 14 eggs scrambled with sharp cheese and fresh chives, along with multiple slices of toast!), before reporting back to they hay field.
As I write this, it is 7:45 p.m. Hand Grenade and Serenity are still in the field, with two loads of hay left to go. Each load takes 45 minutes to load in the field and off-load and stack in the barn. Hand Grenade has worked all day, even when it was 102 degrees. Serenity worked until 11:30, took a quick shower and reported for work at her day job – and then hit the field again as soon as she got home (5 o’clock this evening).
|In the field|
Haying is hard, hot, uncomfortable work. And, in the whole scheme of things, doesn’t pay particularly well. But none of that matters. What matters is that my children are helping a neighbor. They are learning to work hard. They are learning to push themselves beyond what they believe they are capable of doing. They are learning that work is good for their souls. As a mother, I am so grateful to live where my children can learn these unparalleled lessons. A place where they can learn the value of work and of neighborliness and of putting other people before themselves.
|The temperature at 6 o’clock this evening|
You may ask why our children have spent so many hours in the neighbors field. The answer is simple – and terrible. Farmers can’t find anyone to hay anymore. Teenagers no longer seem to need a summer income. The work is hard and kids just don’t want to do it. Most farmers in our area have taken to baling in huge square or round bales simply because they can do all of the work themselves, without having to hire a hay crew. They just move the bales with their tractor and don’t have to go through the hassle of having to find a couple of kids who want some greenbacks in their wallets. A sad state of affairs, methinks.
And now, I’m off to prepare for the return of my children, bone wearied but satisfied with a good days work (or four, but who’s counting?).
Until next time,
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