I can smell the hay

Brother Doug was going through old photo albums and other stuff and came across this picture:


He sent it to me and asked what tractor was used to power the hay blower and whether it was the ‘51 or the ‘53 truck in the picture above. The two people in the picture are our dad (in the truck) and me (on the ground).

I gave him my best answers. “I’m pretty sure that is the ‘51 truck” and “I think we might have borrowed a tractor to power the hay blower” (see the large, flat, belt leading off to the left of the picture?). Doug was able to confirm it was the ‘51 and found another picture of Uncle Alden’s tractor with a flat belt attached to it near the barn.

What is more interesting to me is that while I remembered putting up hay like this for several years the picture brought back surprisingly vivid memories. I can almost smell the hay, feel the rock salt in my hand from the rusty bucket at my feet (we added salt to dry out the hay and reduce the risk of spontaneous heating and fire), and hear the sounds the hay blower made as it pushed the hay up the pipe into the barn. It’s very, very vivid. It’s very close to real even though it was probably 45 years ago.

The next time I go back to Idaho with Barb L. I should take her on a tour of the barn in the picture. The hay blower is still inside.


5 thoughts on “I can smell the hay

  1. Hay, Man; cool photo.

    By the time I started haying for the local Eastern Washington farmers, they had them new–fangled balers. We called it either “haying” or “buckin’ bales”. It was pure hell, but we took the jobs eagerly as the pay was good. To pass the hellish time, we invented little rhymes based on the farmers’ names;
    “Ball’s bales are better bales to buck”
    “Hudson’s hay is heavenly hay to hoist”
    Or simply
    “Hail’s bales”

    My older brother and two of his friends realized how much one farmer was paying out in hourly wages to put in a field of hay. Their capitalist minds figured out that if they really busted ass, the three of them alone could put up a similar sized field of hay for a flate fee. They could save the farmer money and still make far more per hour. Farmer agreed. He did save money, but when Farmer figured out how much the kids had made on a per-hour basis he became angry.

    I’ve seen the same thing in whosale sales, where one good sales rep. can out-do his contemporaries to such a degree as to make an “unfair” amount of money on the same commission. The best tend to get fired from certain manufacturers, or to have their commissions reduced. Go figure. They’d rather make fewer sales and pay out a higher commission, just to prevent other salesmen from getting jealous. Or something.

  2. I had moved a lot of bales of hay before we got the hay chopper and blower. The chopper consumed the grass directly from the windrow and output into the truck driving alongside. Then at the barn the hay was mostly pulled off via a canvas on the bed (see it rolled up at the back?). Dad was in the truck just cleaning up the last little bit. The blower put it into place in the barn with no people required inside.

    The only manual labor required was a “feeding” the blower by scraping hay off of the “wall” of hay pulled to the rear of the truck by the canvas. The two of us could put up hay with this equipment just as fast as a team of four (one baling, one truck driver, with two people on the back of a truck) would normally put up had with the conventional (at the time) bales.

    Feeding the hay in the wintertime was a little more work but we had special pitch forks that were about 3X the width of normal forks. An additional bonus was that because the hay was chopped fairly small the cows ate it better. The tough stems were more bite sized after going through the chopper. Hence there was less waste than when we fed bales.

  3. My sister & brother-in-law, new to Colorado, new to rural living, had 15 acres of hay on his property, and he intended to use if for his two new horses over the winter. A neighbor farmer baled it for him, and when my wife & I visited shortly thereafter he invited us to help load it on his pickup truck and stack it by the stables.

    Another neighbor stopped by as we were unloading the first truckload, and my brother-in-law asked him to describe the proper way of stacking hay bales.

    The neighbor scratched his chin for a moment, then said, “The only way I’ve ever done it is to hire two kids from the local high school, point to a spot, and say: Stack ’em all here.”

  4. Memories like those are priceless. Pity we don’t recognize that when we’re young and whining about having to do all that work. 🙂

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