Thursday, July 16, 2009

Continuing to Make Hay

Sooooo, I called my dad, as per usual when there is any type of farm question.

I just assumed that the hay must be ruined after a day of soaking rain.

Not to worry, assured my dad. When we girls were little Daddy made lots of hay for other people. I remember driving with Mom out to those river bottom fields in Central Oklahoma, red dirt roads, lots of iced tea and glorious trumpet vines. He would work so hard. I figured after all those years of experience he must know what he is talking about. I walked the fields. The top of the cut grass was a bit bleached by the sun, but perfectly fresh and green underneath.

Brian came over on Tuesday afternoon to rake and start to bale part of the cut hay.

We wrapped up Bible study at 8:30 and I headed out to the field to join Philip and the kids.

Gentle breeze blew.

Perfumed bales lay in the field. Philip drove the Suburban and children tossed the bales onto the trailer.

I joined in the dance. Bend, lift, toss, walk. Bend, lift, toss, walk. The load grew tall, Patrick organized from the top of the stack. We headed to the barn and transferred the bales to the loft. Philip and Thomas threw them up and Patrick and Maggie and I started to make a layer. We casted the salt just as Brian instructed. We wiped our sweaty brows and headed back out to the field. I began to worry about Nora and Rose and how they were going to get themselves to bed when Maggie assured me that our dear friend Rachel was tucking them in for me before she headed home for the night.

Bend, lift, toss, walk.

The headlights of another vehicle with a small trailer beamed and bounced onto the field. Who in the world?

Tim, the husband of one of the ladies in our Tuesday night group just happened to have the trailer hooked up to his SUV and wondered if we could use some help. We humbly accepted. The kids had been wishing for an opportunity to try out driving. I think I have never seen a happier look on their faces when we let them take turns driving the suburban for a load. Organic driver's ed.

Bend, lift, toss, walk. The full moon rose over the ridge. The gentle breeze blew. The layer of bales in the loft grew to over 175. We made a new layer. Wiped off sweat and headed back out for more loads. Around 11:30pm we got the last bale thrown into the loft and headed to bed. Very satisfied.

Next morning Philip had to go to work. Jason and Sean took the day off work and came on over. Rachel came to help with Rose and Nora. We ate a big breakfast, lots of protein, drank some more coffee and waited for Brian to come finish the baling. The dew was very heavy so we waited til midday to get back out there. After a lunch of fried hog jowl and home grown bacon sandwiches, fresh onions and some homemade mayo we were ready to get to work. Figured it would take all day and into the night.

Brian and Mr. Hank baled. We hauled.

Sweat flowed. The layers of hay grew taller and taller. Thirteen year old, twelve year old, sixteen year old worked alongside of twenty-something and thirty and forty-somethings. We howled with laughter at each other, we occaionally snapped at one another, we ribbed and joked. More driver's ed took place. Engineer Jason helped improve hay stacking plan.

We sweated.

We marveled as a cloud would cover the hot sun and a gentle breeze would cool our cheeks.

Right as Philip got home from work we made our way back to the field for the last load of hay. 685 bales. Philip and I were guessing around 700 or 750. Nice and dry. Leafy, not stemmy.

Sean surveyed the barn and stated that the old barn must be smiling. I know we sure were.

We thought of the years and years in the past that the Peery's would cut hay, bale it and stack it into the barn. The years of camaraderie, the joking and the fussing. All the stuff that goes along with working hard together in community. We recognize that we are small potatoes compared to big-time farmers. We delight in our puny little efforts like the kindergartener glorying in the ability to recognize her ABC's in the street signs and grocery store.

We delight and the barn smiles.

Rachel comes back home with the little ones. She survived the childcare. We cook up a big platter of hamburgers, grab a cold beer, glass of wine or nice glass of milk and sit out on the grass. Dirty and itchy, covered in hay. We brag on each other and start to get stiff. We understand that we couldn't do this life without each other. I shed a few tears as I realize how good we have it.

We have friends to help make our burden light.

We delight and I know that God smiles.

As soon as the rain stops Brian will be back to cut the rest of the fields that are waiting. Wanna come join the fun?


Leonora said...

Our two oldest girls have the best memories of helping friends put up their hay. It was an bi-annual event that they looked forward to and fondly talk about still. Our eldest daughter was about 12 at that time and she ended up marrying one of the boys 10 years later. She keeps a photograph taken all those years ago of all the families who helped out, sitting atop the wagon full of hay bales.

CountryDew said...

Hard work, making hay. I am glad you had a good cutting.

Jeff said...

You may be "small potatoes compared to big-time farmers" but there is a whole lot that is more important than being "big-time": community, shared journeys, and memories. We need lots more "small-time" folks in this country! said...

Hi Leonora! What a cool story! I think it is amazing and fitting that your daughter married her "work" partner. What good training for marriage!

Thanks, Anita! I bet you guys are pretty pleased with your hay crop. So glad for everyone in the area.

I think you are so right, Jeff. We are so blessed to be able to have this opportunity. And to be able to share it with those who aren't able to move to the farm.