Mail Call January/February 2015: Hay Harvest Memories, Canning Memories and More

Readers share their memories and insights about hay harvest season, canning, and more.

| January/February 2015

  • Small square bales haunt the dreams of rural kids who grew up in decades past.
    Photo by Fotolia/zsollere
  • Fresh-mown hay on a summer afternoon; doesn't get much more classic than that.
    Photo by
  • A couple of readers put a GRIT article to good use and built themselves a chicken feeder.
    Photo courtesy William and Marian Lynn
  • The chicken feeder first featured in the July/August 2011 issue saves on feed and keeps rodents away.
    Photo courtesy William and Marian Lynn
  • Reader Misty Thurber's canned pickles.
    Reader Misty Thurber's canned pickles.
  • A homemade portable barbecue grill, by way of one smart, handy GRIT reader.
    Photo by Rosa Harmon
  • One reader's ingenuity helped build one mower made out of two different models.
    Photo by Rosa Harmon
  • Selling GRIT papers in the old days was a way for rural youngsters to buy that first bike and more.
    Photo by John Vachon/Library of Congress

Stinging Hay Memories  

Back in the late 1940s, many farmers still used horses. My friend Donnie lived with his grandparents, and they had a great team that outworked the old Farmall. I was visiting during the hay harvest, and to help, Donnie and I would walk behind the hay wagon with pitchforks and move the hay that was missed over to the next windrow to be picked up on the next round.

There were many interesting critters in the hay field, including bumblebees that made their hive in the ground. Their nest was covered with hay, but it was disturbed by the horses when they walked ahead, pulling the wagon and hay elevator. As we were walking behind the wagon, we were the next target for the bees when the hay was lifted off their hive. Donnie and I were the next best target for their anger, and since I couldn’t outrun them, I got nailed right between the eyes. As an 8-year-old boy, that sting really turned on my sound effects as I ran to the grandparents’ house seeking “medical treatment” for my wound.

Grandma was a very wise woman who knew all the necessary treatments for just about any ailment, and she told me to sit down while she made the pain remover.

I remember her saying, “There are three weeds you crush together and put on the bee sting, and it will quit hurting. But I can’t remember what all three are. But I know that a fresh cow flop will do the same thing.” She had plans on curing me with a dose of cow dung, and I didn’t agree with her.

It was a three-mile walk to my house, and before she could “treat” me, I was high-tailing it home, in spite of the pain.

I had a very funny looking face by the time I got home — my forehead was swollen and my eyes were almost closed. It took about a week before I was back to something normal. 

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