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Hay Baling

Early one morning after a long, physically-exhausting night of Hay Baling, Pat and his baling partner, Joe Sanchez, stood at the end of an alfalfa field. Most of this field was stubble now, looking as smooth as a flat-top crew cut. They had intentionally delayed this particular baling job to hopefully gain a night with more moisture; as a result they were working against the clock and the sun.
The two had finished the last of the steaming thermos of coffee earlier. They paused long enough to watch the rising sun crest the horizon changing the morning sky from dusky gray to orange. Spread behind them were acres and acres of alfalfa of Hay Baling.
Rubbing his bone-tired arms, this had been no typical night of hay baling for Pat and Joe. Adding up the numbers in his head, he calculated that in a few more hours they would have baled and stacked more than 100 tons of alfalfa on the Lyle Rigg’s farm. Usually 30 bales of hay makes a ton.
“Joe, do you realize we’ll have 103 tons of hay ready for Lyle soon. If we work fast, we might be able to say we got it done in just under 12 hours.”
Joe, squat but compact and solid, just laughed. “It feels like 103 tons.”
“Let’s go then. Your turn on the tractor, it’s my turn to stack.” At that Pat pulled his worn, leather gloves back on as he stood just behind the baler on the trailer and picked up a hay hook as the tractor moved forward pulling the New Holland baler. He had built a matching tilt hay trailer and painted it red with yellow trim to perfectly match the bailer. Pat was a perfectionist and wanted his equipment to shine. The trailer was hooked up behind the baler.
Stabbing an 80-pound bale with the hay hook shooting out of the baler, Pat balanced the bale with his other hand landed it with a thud on the haystack. The neat stack of freshly pressed hay was slowly growing on the trailer that was hitched to the baler.
During this baling session he was glad for his white canvas chaps that covered his Levi’s. As he stacked, the rough 80-pound bales rubbed against his legs. He had worn out several pairs of Levi’s ― and even a pair of chaps ― with the amount of stacking he and a crew could do in one week.
The repetitive stabbing, balancing and stacking went on for several rounds in the field. They were near now to making their goal. It felt good.
***
After finishing up another stack of hay and dumping it into the field, Pat wiped his sweaty brow with his sleeve. On this morning, laying up the bales made the sweat pour. During cold nights one looked forward to the physical labor instead of the tractor driving. Stacking 80-pound bales kept the body warm. On the tractor in spring and fall when nights were cold, you froze.
Pat wondered how long he might be stacking hay bales for others. Hopefully this business could help him with some of his own future goals. “90 acres of my own alfalfa,” he said out loud to no one.
His words were not lost to the silence, though. He and Pennee had talked hours on end about the possibilities.
He smiled thinking that an even higher priority was getting an airplane. He remembered Pennee was a bit quieter when their conversations veered in this direction. But she never discouraged him.
The sun was higher in the morning sky. Joe was just coming to the end of the field, as Pat dumped another stack of 30 bales from the trailer to the ground.
Shouting over the tractor’s engine Pat said, “We’re almost out of wire. But we’ve got 103 tons. Good work, Joe. Let’s shut her down.”
By Julie Murphree, Julie’s Fresh Air Blog

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