Putting Up Hay

Rain, rain, stay away. Come again another day. Papa wants to hay today.

By Friday night we had the first cuttings bales of fresh hay in the loft. I think this was the first year nothing broke and we didn’t have the worry of rain. I should probably write that down because who knows if we will ever be so lucky again. I guess I am jumping the gun a little bit; the hay on dad’s fields still needs to be put up and the sky is looking pretty dark.

Personally, I love haying season. As with anything there are some not so great parts but I do my best to overlook those. Things like a million cuts on my forearms from the scratching hay, the constant heavy lifting in the summer heat, the chaff that clings to sweat and itches and the sneezing and snot. Yeah, haying isn’t always pretty, easy or comfortable. All that aside, it’s great. (Yes, I know, I probably am outnumbered everyone to one on this.)

The smell of the fresh hay is wonderful. You don’t notice just how great a slight breeze feels until you’re dripping sweat on a hay wagon. For some reason, most people have plans the same time you could use a hand putting up hay, but, those that do come are always good company, even on a rough day. At the end of the day you can see all of your hard work stacked to the rafters.

The kids have always been nearby for the job. The previous years they’ve spent doing helpful things like sitting in the little red wagon, eating cold watermelon and waving as the baler and wagon go by. They are also good at pointing out when you’ve broken bale and haphazardly sweeping off the hay rack at the end of the day.

This year the two oldest (3 and 4 years old) were up in the hay loft with us. The last couple wagons I was stacking high. Mark was loading the elevator, dad was catching the bales in the loft and tossing them up to Mike who was tossing them up to me. I then put them in their final spot. The kids were loving climbing the bales, banging on the rafters and being able to touch the tin roof. Of course all of this excitement was coupled with their little (loud) voices singing songs but mostly talking. Constantly talking. It was a never ending flow of words.

The constant clack of the chain on the elevator and the motor running below, it’s loud but it doesn’t take much time for it to melt into the background. The constant chatter of children does not melt into the background. It requires a constant answer. I’m pretty sure the answering of hypotheticals like “how about a dinosaur ate a barn?” or the answer question like “why do we put up hay so the cows can eat during winter?” or just the “mama” –“what?”-“(lost train of thought, start over) mama”-“what?” are more exhausting than the actual physical labor at hand.

I find it important that they be included, exhausting chatter and all. There are a lot of lessons to be learned and they aren’t ones you will find in a book.

It was ten o’clock when the elevator finally shut down for the night and the last bale was placed. I brought the kids in for bathes and bed, while Mike, dad and Mark put away the equipment and hooked up the trailer for me for the farmers market the next morning.

(That was a rough morning. But we made it. Thank you to everyone that came to market and made getting out of bed while feeling like we’d been hit by a bus worth it!)

*I just want to say a special “Thank you!” to everyone that helped get the hay up. Dad, Mark and Mike driving tractors, raking, bailing, catching bales and stacking. Mom and Carol for watching all of the kids and making meals. Carol the guacamole and tequila was PERFECT!

Thank you!


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