I’m not sure why, but there was a part of me that enjoyed putting up square bales of hay on my grandparent’s farm when I was younger. I think it was because it was a feeling of togetherness as a family. My aunt, my mom, a couple of my male cousins and I worked together with my grandpa in the hay fields. My dad helped when he wasn’t working and my brother usually worked when the neighbors were the only ones available.
My first memories of helping with the hay was when I was seven or eight years old. At the time I wasn’t strong enough to work in the barn stacking the bales so I assisted my grandpa with putting the bales on the elevator. My job was to climb to the top of the stack of hay on the wagon and push the bales off the stack one by one. My grandpa would put them on the elevator. As we got closer to the bottom of the stack, I would knock a bale off the small stack and then carry the bale, most of the time I pushed it, to my grandpa by the elevator. Even as I got older, I usually stayed on the wagon with my grandpa. We seemed to make a good team. I liked staying out of the barn. It was really hot up there.
Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash
Speaking of hot, one of my least favorite things about putting up square bales was what was appropriate clothing for this job. To keep the hay from scratching arms and legs really bad, we had to wear long sleeve shirts, pants and gloves. In the hay fields, it felt like it was 120 degrees. I’m really not exaggerating, it was HOT! What was nice was out in the fields, when we almost had a wagon full of hay, I would sit on the top of the stacks and could feel a nice breeze.
As I got older and could handle the bales better, it was usually just one of my older male cousins and myself that helped my grandpa put up hay. Now that’s a full day of hard work.
When my grandpa had a lot of hay down in the fields, my mom and my aunt would help. I could never understand it, but every time my aunt and mom would help one wagon of hay they had stacked would get dumped and they would have to load it again. Recently, my aunt explained to me that my mom and her weren’t as strong as the guys, but they tried to stack as high as the men. Unfortunately, their stacks weren’t stacked as tight as the guys were. When the wagon bounced around, my mom and aunt’s stacks of hay would fall off the wagon.
When I look out into the fields today, I have to smile, because once again this farm still brings back great family memories.