Why is it that it has to be over 100 degrees outside before it's Hay Baling Time on the Ranch. We ususally bale earlier in the year, late June, but this year, the rain did not come in the Spring as usual. It rained later in the Summer.. The hay is sparse--about 1/2 as much as usual, but we are thankful to get what we get.
When I was younger, I was the rake hand sometimes, but when Sid's and my dad were alive, I was not needed often. Now, Sid usually hires a guy to help him rake if our boys are working and unavailable to help. This year, a friend sent him some help to cut his hay. Sid was obliged to send his hired hand to help the friend. WAIT!! This leaves Sid without a rake hand! Projected temperature for the day ---- 103 degrees!!! NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Now--first, let me tell you that I don't mind raking hay. Actually I enjoy it except for the fact that all the dust and pollen gives me an allergy headache. Oh and the fact that Sid is not very good at explaining how he wants things done. He explained to me that he wanted me to make rounds, 3 or 4, in a section and then rows going back and forth. Actually, when you think about it, it's alot like free motion quilting. The goal is to rake the hay in a fashion so that the baler can bale continuously. You don't want the baler to have to travel from one point to another to pick up more hay. Sid said, "Be sure to raise the rakes when you turn around at the end of the row. Of course I had to ask "WHY?". I cannot see the reason in this. In my mind, if there is no grass there anyway, why would I have to bother to raise the rakes. I mean, yesterday , it just required the movement the of a lever, last year it was a lever tied up with a rope, for crying out loud! I didn't know he had it fixed. He got all riled up and said, "Lift the rakes so you won't have all that trinklin---------OK, now, how many of you know what he meant by trinkling? Would you have guessed a little tiny bit hay in a row there at the end where you turn around? I said, "You have got to be kidding me--what does that hurt--I mean just because there is a little tiny bit of hay raked there where I turned around doesn't mean you have to bale it up? He gets all pouty and told me as long as I am alive my daddy will never be dead. I told him that if my daddy felt the same way about that little deal I could say only one thing and that is "HE WAS RIGHT!". My daddy loved the hayfield and tended to drink a little too much beer while working there. He and Sid had lots of "Rounds" about things. We all laugh about it now and miss him so much.
I really did enjoy it, though. The heat, sweat, dust and the familiar roar of the tractor made me feel closer to my dad than I have in years. He passed away in 1998. Another enjoyable part of the process were the Egrets. The little white birds that circle the equipment as we work because they so enjoy the tidbits they can reap. The cricketts, grasshoppeers, and other small insects are their favorite treat.
They are such funny little birds. They remind me of a wirey little man strutting around. Always looking, looking until they see their prey. When they fly to a new location, since they have almost no tail feathers, when they stick their long legs straight out behind them, the legs look like their tail. As they glide and soar they look like they weigh almost nothing.
Large groups were all around us and they went in groups to the tank to get a drink.
On to another direction from the boss--Now when you get over to that area over there, there are some bull holes. Don't get that wheel, that wheel, or that wheel in the bull hole and don't rake the windrow over the bullhole because if the wheel of the baler falls into the hole, it will do lots of damage. Ok, after much pondering, I made a plan as how to carry out going over the bullhole and still carry out all the instruction. It worked out OK. No damage to the baler. The following picture is a bullhole covered with the cut hay. It is hard to see, isn't it. Did you have any idea that raking hay was so involved?
The inevitable happened. I had to have a bathroom break. I raked quite a ways ahead of the baler and once when Sid stopped because the hay balled up in the baler, I told him I needed to go. He said, "Run on over there and get the truck, go to the house and the bathroom and then come back here. We need the truck here anyway. Remember now that it is at leasst 102 degrees, I am hot, tired, sweat pouring from my brow and I say-------------you mean, walk? He said----YES!
Part of the hay in the field with Clark's home in the background.