Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Haying Time

The other day I was out running errands and drove by one of the local farms.  Tractors in the field, trucks pulling hay wagons and several other pieces of equipment.  The end result was the large round bale of hay.  So large they used a tractor to pick it up and put it on the wagon.  Times have changed so much.  I remember haying at Daddy's and how hard we worked.

Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day were holidays for most.  We spent part of these days in the hay fields if the weather cooperated.  Hot and dry is the conditions to process hay.  At least, these were Daddy's conditions.  

When I was real little we did not have a tractor, we did most of the farm work with our mule Katie and a wagon.  There was a mower  and rake which Katie would pull through the fields.  The hay would be cut and it laid for 3 days.  The 3rd day it would be raked and picked up to be stored.  The loft in barn would be filled with loose hay.  When the loft was filled the remaining hay would be shocked in the fields. This hay was not as protected as the hay stored in the barn and it should be used first.  Some of this hay would be used as bedding.  

There was one job which I watched my big sister do that I thought was great fun.  She was in the hay wagon and loft of the barn packing the hay.  Daddy would load a pitch fork, toss the hay in and she would pack.  "Can I help?  Please, please, please."  Then came the words,  "No, you are too little and may fall of the wagon or out of the loft."  Words of wisdom from my sister, "Be glad you are to small this is the worst job on the farm."  Now,  how could that be?  All she was doing was playing in the hay.

A few years later, my chance came to pack the hay.  I was excited and so was my sister as she was not going to have to do this job any more.  Katie was hitched to the wagon, Momma fixed 2 canning jars with iced water and Daddy climbed on the wagon.  Off to the hay field where I would play.  Daddy is telling me to stay at the far end of the wagon until he tells me to pack the hay and never get where I cannot see him.  

We arrive in the hay field and it is so pretty all of the hay raked into rows, all neat and tidy.  Daddy stops by the first row.  Gets down and starts loading hay in the wagon.  "Go and pack the hay."  Off I went and started jumping up and down on the hay.  It was like playing and I was helping Daddy.  The wagon was loaded and off to pack in the loft.  Daddy would put hay at the loft door and go up in the loft and move the hay to the back, this way we would get all the hay in the loft.  When the hay was moved to the back it needed to be packed again.  So in I went to jump on the hay and pack it tight. 

The day got hotter and our water jars were empty.  My sister is coming across the field carrying something.  "Momma said to tell you lunch will be ready in a little while so come in after this load."  She had bought lemon-aide, iced cold for us to drink.   This load finished we went for lunch, Momma wanted to know how things were going.  I heard Daddy say we would not go back into the for several hours as it was just to hot.  We would finish in the evening as this field was just about all stored.  Katie was unhitched from the wagon and I was scratching.  I itched everywhere.  My sister was laughing at me.  The hay had gotten in my clothes and it was scratching me.  Momma sent me to take a bath and put on clean clothes.  Put those other ones aside and you can wear them to the field tonight.

I,  now,  understood why my sister was glad for me to take over her job.  I really wished she still had the job.  But things changed, Momma bought a tractor, another farmer purchased a hay baler and Daddy changed the mower and rake from mule pulled to tractor pulled.  I learned to drive the tractor at a very young age and now I had a new job.  I drove the tractor with the hay wagon while the men loaded the hay on the wagon.   I would make several runs home just to pick up lemon-aide, iced cold in canning jars.  You see, some things never change.

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