Summer haying season is a time when working with family can be a little more challenging.
Square bales -- they aren’t called “idiot cubes” or “dumby squares” for nothing. My family and I spent the weekend baling hay -- both round bales and the smaller square bales that we use for calving season and at cattle shows.
My mom always says, “We make hay on the hottest days of the year to feed cattle on the coldest days of the year.” This weekend was no exception as the heat bore down on us and the absent breeze gave the mosquitoes extra leverage to zoom in on us.
You can quickly learn your rank on the totem pole when you're baling square bales. It's illustrated by your working position in the process -- driving the tractor, stacking, or driving the pickup. Funny, for some reason I seem to always be on the rack, which must signify that I hold a pretty low rank. My husband Tyler, however, always reassures me that it’s a good workout. A gym membership seems pretty silly when you’re throwing square bales, doesn’t it?
This weekend, my husband had the bright idea to cut, rake and bale ditches, which my dad often refers to as “the most expensive hay you can get.” This, of course, is because of the unknown troubles mowing a ditch can add to the equation -- culverts, holes, rocks, gravel piles, and steep angles, to name a few.
As I’m sure you can probably imagine, things didn’t exactly go smoothly this weekend. Several breakdowns, a few choice words and many broken bales later, we were hot, tired, sweaty, and in desperate need of some ice water and a nap.
Yet, despite our fatigue and short tempers, we pressed on, trying to make light of a not-so-fun job on the ranch. Darkness fell, and we flipped on the lights in the barn and stacked bales until the rack was empty.
Tired, hair full of hay, and hungry, we finally headed inside and called it a night, knowing that the next day we would start all over again.
Yes, baling squares might be an idiot’s job, but the extra feed this winter will be worth it. It’s certainly a test in working as a family and dealing with different personalities and dynamics, but it sure feels good seeing those bales picked up and stacked.
What are your thoughts on the joys of making hay? Do you have some experiences in this area, or other "family" jobs on the farm that are or aren't your favorites? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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