Farm work

My mother grew up with numerous brothers and sisters on a poor, dusty farm outside Tecumseh, Oklahoma. I have heard stories of her sharing a bed with her sisters, at least two, maybe three of them. I think we can rule out that it was the queen or king size bed that many of us, including myself, sleep in now. I always have trouble sleeping. What if I shared a bed with multiple people? Jordyn, the dog and I stretch my sleeping abilities but things were different then.

My mom worked hard on the farm-they all did. Once again, I cannot imagine ever preparing enough food for 11 brothers and sisters plus her folks without running to the store for something I forgot or needed but they got by mostly with what they could grow, can, raise, hunt or harvest. She told me, especially in the depression years, there was never enough food.

On my little place, we do not grow or raise our food. We go to Wal-Mart. We have, in essence, a hobby farm, with a few horse we train and sell for a little money. I have another full-time job (thank God!) and Lauren goes to college. But there is never, never, a shortage of work to be done. I am ten days post-op from shoulder surgery. I am sleeping very little. The days should be quiet but there is always so much to do.

The very green of the newly baled alfalfa hay next to our regular coastal hay.

The very green of the newly baled alfalfa hay next to our regular coastal hay.

Alfalfa is a specialty hay. It is higher protein (26% in this particular batch)  than regular hay and more expensive. It is great for building muscle and providing roughage.  Most alfalfa sold here is brought from northern states and through the winter we have paid as much as $20 a bale. There is some Texas insect that causes problems with alfalfa grown here.

There is a retired military vet, Texas A & M alumnus, that bought a farm here in Wharton and set out to grow alfalfa- without the insect problem. His place is a beautiful green valley. You feel the peace and quiet of his little piece of paradise as you round the corner to his farm. He is probably mid-60’s but a disciplined, hard worker. He has been trying since Wednesday to cut and bale this load of hay. It has rained, we have had high winds and humidity that is not kind to preserving hay. I can’t imagine how hard he has worked this week to get the alfalfa from field to bale. All I know is how much I have worried about going to get it.

Obviously, I wasn’t loading hay.  And all our usual people who might be coerced into helping us were out-of-town, injured or unavailable.  I cannot get good alfalfa from the feed store and here it was available in the field for just $10 a bale.  If only Lauren and I could load it, haul and stack it at our barn.  I lost count of the number of phone calls that I got from the hayman.  First it would be Friday, then Saturday afternoon, then he called and asked if we could come Saturday night at 8:00 pm.  Lauren and I go to bed then.  But that fell apart as well as the hay was not dry enough to bale.  Finally, we agreed on this morning early.  My friend Gaylyn had offered to go with us, at least to get it loaded but she has had her own family, farm and life issues and was getting the amazing opportunity to sleep-in this morning so I thought we would not call on her.

We got to the hayfields, the emerald meadows of alfalfa to find just the hayman and his numerous Rat terriers.  He was doing all the work on his own.  Way too much work for any one person to do.  Farming is a young man’s occupation.  He saw me in my sling, deemed me to be the driver, set Lauren in the bed of the truck to receive and stack the heavy bales as he loaded them from the field.

In the dew and fog of the early morning, we trucked up and down the rows of hay.  I thanked him over and over.  He convinced us to take almost double the amount of hay we had intended to buy.  I argued, ‘but you will have to load it!’.  ‘Anything for a buck’, he countered.

We got loaded and headed for home.  We dropped a bale of the perfect hay over Gaylyn’s fence and sent a text that it was a gift from the alfalfa fairy.   We slowly, with me handling one side and Lauren the other, moved the bales (probably 75 pounds each) from the truck to barn.

There were other chores to do, flowers to plant (thanks, Dee for that idea), fans to install, and the usual stalls, buckets and troughs to clean.  We broke off at noon to have lunch with Ally, Jordyn and Kendyll.

Farm work is never done, ever evolving and always ahead of you.  I bet the hayman will rest for days once his bales are sold or stacked in his barn.  My dogs are tired from a day in the sun, playing hard.  The horses, Bruno and Mickey especially, are thrilled with the beautiful alfalfa finding its way to their tummies tonight.

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