Holiday Hay

My routine, such as it is, gets seriously disrupted every year about this time.  We’re trying to get our hay in and that has to take priority over everything else.   I cut it on Thursday and Friday until into the night.  We also had to pick and prep everything for the market yesterday, which made for a very early start in the morning.  Today I’ll probably start raking the hay, which I’m sure will be looked upon with disfavor by some of my neighbors.  But there’s rain forecast for Tuesday afternoon, meaning we have to get it baled and into the barn by then.  With a labor force consisting only of me and Cherie, there’s just no time to wait.  Hopefully we’ll get it done before the rain and I can return to my normal busy summer schedule.

Yesterday I graduated from seminary.  While my classmates were walking in the ceremony, I was selling produce at the farmers’ market.  That was just fine by me.

After the market we went and got our granddaughter, who will spend the weekend with us.  If she could drive the truck it would help a lot with getting up the hay.  But she’s only eight years old and I think that kind of thing is frowned upon these days.

So today is Memorial Day, a day to lament human folly and mourn our dead.  Instead most folks will remain oblivious to it (a few might even do something like rake hay) and plenty more will use it as an excuse for triumphalism and the glorification of war.

May we instead remember the prophet’s words–the beautiful vision of the world that is possible:

They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
Everyone will sit under their own vine
and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid
for the LORD Almighty has spoken.

Hoping you all enjoy the holiday weekend.

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15 comments on “Holiday Hay

  1. Dani says:

    Do you hand harvest the hay, or do you have a machine / tractor attachment to do the job for you? Similarly, do you have a baling machine?

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  2. Do rake the hay and may not one drop come near it. I miss making hay. I miss the smells and the labor and how all the men gathered together. The bales climbing the elevator one after the other and the dust like a second skin. The heat. The wagon full and leaning, creaking, and then empty and the chains on the wagon swinging free and the coming and going to the field. I remember when I first could back a full load in. And then baling. And then one day baling disappeared and then we chopped hay. I remember that, too.There was no dust, no men, no sweat. The hay was no longer hay. This was the same time that McDonald’s came to town. And KFC. They put a mall directly on my cousin’s bank barn. Where the hay dust once was see now the parking lot and next to it the interstate. My cousin traded his barn and hay dust for $800,000. Now all the men who used to eat my mother’s ham sandwiches on the empty wagons drove over my cousin’s barn to get to mcdonalds.and large sodas. They drove directly over it. If they ate in their cars maybe they were parked where we switched the wagons.

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    • nebraskadave says:

      It is a sad day when civilization takes over the farm. Those that eat drink and be merry on the land with so much history and memories have no clue when took place there. It brings a tear to my eye to think about it.

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    • Bill says:

      Sigh. As a poet has written, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. They paved paradise and they put up a parking lot.” There is so much captured in your story. So much loss. Thanks for sharing it.

      I have great childhood memories of getting up hay. It was a job I dreaded then, and now I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

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  3. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, haying knows no holiday. Weather does not go on hold for a farmer to enjoy a calendar holiday. The old adage of making hay when the sun shines hasn’t changed a bit since I bucked those 60 to 80 pound bales so long ago in my youth. I’m so old that haying originally meant piling it up in huge hay stacks in the fields. Then baler’s became popular and now the hay is baled in those enormous round bales that weigh thousands of pounds. It seems that every improvement on the farm requires a bigger more expensive piece of machinery.

    It was supposed to rain here too the last couple days and I suppose it did somewhere in Nebraska but just not here. Isolated showers are not very reliable. I have enough rain water stored away for at least a month or maybe longer if needed. I pray that the rain holds off long enough for you to get all your hay safely in the barn.

    Have a great Holiday?

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    • Bill says:

      They have giant rakes now that make a perfect windrow in only one pass. They have tedders and make them seem essential. It’s rare–very rare–for families to work together to get in the hay. The big farms around here use temporary workers for that, like everything else. The other morning I saw a man driving a tractor raking hay when the temperature was in the 60s. He was wearing a heavy winter coat. He was probably thinking of the farm he had to leave behind to come here and rake our hay.

      The best hay days here were when my son baled it, while my daughter drove my truck (even though she was legally too young to drive) and I loaded it on the trailer. My wife kept us nourished and hydrated. We’d get it all into the barn but usually not until deep into the night. It was a good feeling when it was done.

      I got most of it raked today. We had to stop to go tend the potato garden and didn’t finish that until after 9. We worked till the lightning bugs and whippoorwills came out. 🙂 Tomorrow I’ll finish raking and (hopefully) start baling. It will be another long and fulfilling day.

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  4. Martha Caldwell-Young says:

    “They will beat their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
    Nation will not take up sword against nation,
    nor will they train for war anymore.
    Everyone will sit under their own vine
    and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid
    for the LORD Almighty has spoken.”

    Yes. Thank you. ❤ _/|\_

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    • Bill says:

      That may be my favorite passage from the Bible. I love the image of weapons being turned into farm tools and everyone sitting under their own vine and their own fig tree, unafraid.
      May it be so.

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  5. First Bill, congratulations on graduating from the seminary.

    Confess I never had the experience of gathering hay but my neighbors here do. I did spend my youth working on pear ranches gathering fruit. So I guess there is a little farmer in me. 🙂

    As for swords to plowshares: Amen.

    Curt

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  6. Gwen Wells says:

    Not to worry. On our way to Roanoke today (taking the back roads from Altavista) to visit my daughter and grandson, seems like every hay field was being raked or baled. You were not the only one out there sweating away the “holiday.” The air smelled delicious and the big pointy thing on the front of the tractors was pretty scary. I remember riding in my Granddaddy’s old ’43 pickup while my mother and her sisters and their husbands chucked the square bales onto the trailer. We rescued more than a few baby rabbits. At least the smells of summer haven’t changed.

    Love the comments above, and the idea of a fig tree of my own;)

    And congratulations on your Graduation!

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks Gwen. We got the last bale into the barn just before 9 last night. My son and his wife had come for a visit and he pitched in to help, just like the old days. 🙂 It’s always a good feeling when it’s done.

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