This time of year I get hay fever.
Oh, not the coughing and sneezing kind. More like the delirious “I’ve got to get my hay in” kind of feverish rant that always hits me right around June 1, like winter is coming imminently and I need to store up for a long, hard one.
It is an interesting phenomenon how close I feel to farming this time of year. I am not a farmer. Oh, I have a few acres I refer to as my farm. But I have no delusions that I am one. Regardless, I feel as close as I can to being a farmer this time of year because I watch my neighbor: the supplier of the hay which quenches my fever. He really is a farmer, and I watch him as he puts up his many fields of hay. I sense his angst as I watch the sky and check the weather forecast. I feel his sweat as I watch him drive his various tractors on what seems always to be the hottest days of the year. I swear the ache in my muscles and bones are even more exaggerated at this time, as I see him step down once again from his tractor and make his way stiffly back to his house. In fact, I have been watching him for over twenty years.
I promise I am not a stalker. I am just a very grateful horsewoman who is so glad for this time of year that brings me ever so close to the land I love and appreciate for its generosity of providing forage so necessary for sustaining my horses through the winter. And I share this gratitude for the farmer who still wants to farm in this modern age, even when it is just two miles from town. I don’t think he does it for the money, not really; he has a full time career. I like to think he also feels closest to the land and who he is when he is out there in the solitary work of his choosing. I could ask him, but he is a farmer, and I think the words would allude him, but I have seen it in his eyes. I know, and he knows I know.
Every year at this time I reflect on the over twenty five years of hay storing. I marvel at the luxury of being able to watch it grow, watch it being cut, cured, and then baled. I marvel at the technical changes that have occurred which have so benefited me as all these years have gone by.
The first years of my “hayage” as I like to refer to it, were attempts of making a party out of just plain hard and dirty work. A bunch of my gal pals and I would accumulate an assortment of trucks and trailers and hooks and gloves and go out in the fields and pick up our bales one by one. It was considered a luxury if you were the one who got to drive the pickup truck around from bale to bale – no air conditioned cab for you though, oh no, the windows were rolled down and you were lucky to catch a breeze as you crept along at about 3-½ miles per hour and caught a bit of gossip flying through the air as your friends huffed and puffed another bale up on the wagon.
But quite a few years ago, my neighbor was able to modernize his hay operation with a bale-picker-upper, at least that is what I call it. And now my hay gets delivered and set down right in front of my hay shed with aplomb – 101 bales at a time, neat as a pin, or a bowling lane of pins, as it precariously sits there until jump poles are placed just so to keep it from toppling down; the most use my poles get all year – good thing I have them.
And there my stack sits in expectation, as I once again try to find a couple of decent, hard working teenage boys who are willing to do some hard work for some quick cash, cold drinks and a sincere and heartfelt thank you. This year I was so fortunate to find two able bodies – who, get this, are only 15! This means I could get them back again for the, wait for it, NEXT THREE YEARS!
Oh,the joy that can be found in the simple things of life. And peace, I have peace in my heart having my hay securely tucked away in the barn. My hay fever is miraculously cured and summer is here.