Once again it is that season to bale waterways, ditches and grass hay in general. I know it is that time when the temps soar into the 90’s and the air is so thick and muggy you feel like you could swim through it.
I knew this time was coming…..but I think in my head I kept thinking that maybe, just maybe it would not happen. A very distant hope, but a hope, none the less.
To understand my feelings on baling you need to realize that I did not grow up on a farm. I grew up in a small town and had cousins who lived on farms. When we went to the farm we had fun. We played on the sack swing, played kick the can, played with the chicks (this may have triggered my love for chickens), and once in a while we decided we should try to ride a pig……because that is what you do as a kid in a rural area when you are done with your chores.
The closest I got to farm work growing up were the summers spent walking beans and detasseling corn. These occupations in no way prepared me for baling or tractor driving.
When I married my farmer we decided we should milk cows. I found out quickly that milking cows involved more than milking twice a day. There was the gutter to be cleaned every day, feed to be ground, bulk tanks to be washed, and baling. Pretty much everything you did, all day, every season revolved around cows.
Those first summers that my husband requested I drive the tractor for baling are etched firmly in my mind. As a gal who had never driven a clutch it was quite an experience for me and probably more for my husband as he attempted to remain upright on the hay rack as I would put that tractor into gear. I must confess I had him on his knees several times……I am quite sure he was not praying…..but then again maybe he was! If not, he probably should have been.
Quite often my dad in law would show up as we were baling and ask if I wanted him to drive. You have never seen a woman get off a tractor so fast! Now that he is going to be 87 I don’t think he is going to show up to rescue me anymore.
There came a time when we had to decide to get big or get out of the dairy business and we chose out. That ended my time of driving a tractor for baling. I thought this was forever but nope.
Last year my husband decided that, once again, we should take up the fine art of small square baling. As he purchased a disk mower, rake, and baler I was really wondering if this was such a good idea for a couple who was a lot closer to 60 than we liked to think.
Once again I am learning how NOT to pop a clutch, how to decipher what all those hand motions mean (no, he is not just waving with joy at me all the time), how to make the turns and how to follow the long row of raked grass without leaving too much on the ground.
I am learning slooooowwwwwllly. Yes very slowly. I am getting better (that might just be in my own head). I still do not like driving on a slant. One half of my brain knows that I will not tip the tractor over on this gentle incline but the other half persist in arguing that the ground in not level. I pray against fear on that one. My husband keeps assuring me it will be fine but the one half of my brain, again, is not convinced. Maybe next year?
I keep telling my husband that a utility tractor would be a good investment if he is going to persist in this baling thing. I just know I would feel safer if I were driving a tractor that was lower to the ground and much “squattier”. Once again…..maybe next year??
Every so often I take a turn on the rack when the ground gets steeper than I like or the turns get way to tight in the back corners of the waterway. My husband is very gracious with my stacking of bales. To be very honest…….. My stacking skills suck. (please forgive the language–I have raised three sons—-on a farm).
I will have to say there is a satisfaction in seeing the bales, stacked neatly in a haymow. I have a feeling that for my husband, it is the same feeling I get when I see my pantry full of canning jars that are full of produce.
I think my husband loves baling because it brings back his teenage years. He spent many hours throwing bales for various farmers who needed extra help. He worked for the grand wage of $1.75 an hour.
I am starting to think I may have to find one of those teenage boys who want to throw bales. That way my husband could do the driving……I am seeing a win-win situation here.
“Only a farmer
knows the difference between
5 MPH and 5.5 MPH”
“Farming is a profession of hope”
― Brian Brett