Tuesday, January 3, 2012

learning the ropes

Monday afternoon I loaded up the truck at Nelson Greene's Farm with some of the last hay stores he had for the year. Nelson's hay is the best I have ever seen, and worth every penny at five dollars a bale. Not a blade of grass is yellow, all green and dry as tinder. His bales are nearly 60-70lbs, enormous and nutritious. I was sad to load up the last 23 bales I might get from him. As I sat four bales high (about 12 feet off the ground) I looked over his barn and fields and listened to him talk to a gentlemen named Harold about his new angus in the field below. He was proud of those beefs, and I was proud of him. Nelson is 72 years old, raising cows, hauling hay bales, and can lift me off the ground with one hand on my belt buckle. His hands are the size of basketballs, and he is always laughing. I got off the truck by putting a foot into his two gloved hands and he lowered me down as if I was a kindergardener. Farming, in his case, was a magic fountain. He might be in the hospital every so often for breathing problems due to a lifetime of dust and haying, but that is his biggest health issue. If I am this lucky and alive at 72 I will consider myself among the blessed.

After both Harold and I had our trucks loaded up, we headed down route 22 to Salem. I didn't realize it but two bales had fallen off the truck on the trip south. It wasn't until I pulled into the Stewart's for a cup of coffee and a wheat bun with peanut butter that I noticed the gapes in my load. I groaned. That would feed my hoofstock for an entire day, and cost ten dollars. With hay being so dear, I shook my head and chalked it up as a loss and a lesson.

Then I heard someone call my name and glory be, it was Harold! The 60+ year-old man had stopped after each bale fell and loaded them onto his truck. Then when I pulled into the gas station he did too, and I was so happy to see the man. I knew he could have easily kept that hay for his seven horses, but he returned it. He helped me load it back onto the Dodge and tie it down with baling twine from his own rig.

Around here, we look after each other. And Harold and Nelson both know you gotta keep an eye on a greenhorn like me. Can't even tie down her hay yet...


Blogger Courtney said...

Harold is a lesson in awesomeness, just like you are for all your readers!

You're a pretty special person and special people surround you.

January 3, 2012 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

I love it how country folk look after each other. :) We are a clan, even though we may not know each other's names, if we see someone in trouble we help out.

January 3, 2012 at 8:15 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

This isn't a "one up you" or a brag, just a sincere question. I have the same truck as you, except I have a regular two seat cab - the bed of my truck is 6ft. I normally load 30 - 35 bales and run one rope from back to front and if needed I'll put a couple side to side. The other day we loaded 100 bales on one truck and trailer and threw another 24 on my truck. I used my tie-downs on the trailer and nothing on my truck. After a 45 min ride home down beat up dirt roads, up and down some steep hills, around some sharp corners and up to 50mph in some stretches - not bale on my truck was out of place. So I'm wondering if the bed of your truck is shorter than mine or maybe you need a different stacking pattern. Or was this just a one time occurrence.

I would be happy to send you what I have come to use after a couple different patterns.

January 3, 2012 at 8:18 PM  
Blogger bree said...

Nice reading tonight. A slice of life in upstate New York.

January 3, 2012 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger jim said...

jenna- i too am 72 and have found that the world is truly full of good people-unfortunately we hear mostly about the bad ones-this was a great blog- thank you. Jim

January 3, 2012 at 8:34 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Cj - his bales are huge, 3.5 feet long and 70 pounds. I also have a quad cab. All that said, a pro could get 40 on there easy!

January 3, 2012 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Jenna, just love your post tonight. My question is...how do you know he could pick you up by your belt buckle. Was this a contest or something at some point!!!

January 3, 2012 at 8:39 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

This made me smile! I adore this particular aspect of country living.

January 3, 2012 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger Mist said...

Oh gosh. I actually got choked up while reading this. I'm a sucker for a good deed and a sense of community.

January 3, 2012 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger Ruth @ Hope, Joy and Faith Farm said...

Love the story... thanks for sharing!

January 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger polly said...

@mist - i did too! :)

January 3, 2012 at 9:58 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I have climbed up the hay escalator a few times in my day to get into the loft to throw down bales. Going up that ladder is easy, like a slide with rungs on it...coming down is always sketchy. But once I'm where Nelson can grab my belt he just lifts me off! (I weigh 187 pounds...)

January 3, 2012 at 10:13 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

Fantastic! You are definitely surrounded by great people.

*I passed a field of fresh cut alfalfa on the way home from work and it smelled so wonderful!

January 4, 2012 at 12:46 AM  
Blogger julie said...

lovely post Jenna,
Thanks for sharing .

January 4, 2012 at 2:50 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

I'm surprised that Harold and Nelson would let you start of with a less than secure load. If those bales had caused an accident, you would have had some major issues. You are responsible for anything riding in your vehicle.

January 4, 2012 at 6:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your precious jenna.

January 4, 2012 at 6:49 AM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

Sound like nice bales.. Big though. Killer to lift... Maybe next year think about round bales... I know it's on my maybe/perhaps list... Just need a place to store them where the sheep can't get them until ready to use.

January 4, 2012 at 7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this post made me smile and remember my grandfather-a farmer (with the hands and strength to prove it) all his life, who was always amused at his granddaughter climbing the hay bales. thanks for that-i think i needed to think of him today!


January 4, 2012 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger eliav said...

Jenna have you thought about Bale Grazing? It is a holistic management practice where farmers put the hay out in the field for the animals to eat it out there. Ranchers I have spoken with say it increases their grass production in the next year noticeably.

January 4, 2012 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Drummond Farms Alpacas and Woolens said...

So refreshing to hear of others and their good deeds. We think of these as so rare and here there are two gentlemen for who this is the natural way to act. Good lessons to us all and no good deed goes unnoticed. You are a lucky girl to be in such good company.

January 4, 2012 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger steak and eggs said...

Great post Jenna

January 4, 2012 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Jimmie said...

Like Mist, I got a little choked up reading this post. I know you're proud to have such fine neighbors and friends like Harold. We're lucky where we live that we have great friends and neighbors, too.

Here's a little story about one such goodhearted soul:

Don lived in North Carolina, but had a Christmas tree farm in Virginia. Each year he would cut the trees he had trimmed and tended all summer and leave some of them beside the tree farm. He put out a little table and sign that said, "Here's a box with stamped, self addressed envelopes. Take a tree and mail me the money for what you think the tree is worth. I appreciate your business. Merry Christmas."

It worked for several years until some disgusting, sorry soul not only took all Don's trees, but the envelopes too. Don absolutely could not believe that anyone would be that dishonest. Don's heart was in the right place. Still, Don tried to rationalize that maybe whoever took the trees and money really needed it worse than he did, so he let any bad feelings go. Don was sad that he no longer could afford to take a chance on offering something to honest people.

Don truly lived with the idea of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I'm proud to have known and loved him. He died too early, at age 57 of cancer.

Diane in North Carolina

January 4, 2012 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Karen Smith said...

Really nice post, Jenna. Thanks.

January 4, 2012 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...

I 110% agree with Courtney about Harold, you, & your terrific CAF blog!!!
Lot of terrific folks around unfortunately negative is the norm for news media!!!
Said enough!!! Lookinf forward to your next "Post", etc.!!!
Ronnie A Happy X Seat Weaver!!!

January 4, 2012 at 2:49 PM  
Blogger Ms. Feldman said...

I love this story!!!

January 4, 2012 at 3:58 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Great story about honest farming folk! But I still can't get over the fact that you're paying $5 for a huge square bale. I just paid $13 for a coastal bale here in Texas this weekend (the drought has really impacted the market for hay).

Really enjoy your blog!

January 4, 2012 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger Cait said...

We're still learning the ropes here too...we have all the hay we need on the farm but no straw for the sheep's bedding which we travel around near and wide to get as no one is doing any wheat up here either.

We haven't had any fallen off yet but somehow always seem to drive into a rainstorm about halfway through having decided not to put a tarp on the load. One day we'll learn I suppose...

January 4, 2012 at 7:11 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

Count your blessings that story didn't end with an accident. Please have someone teach you proper bale stacking and strapping techniques before you attempt to haul your own. If you want a horror story of what can happen when hay or straw bales are carelessly stacked before transport id be willing to share.

January 4, 2012 at 10:21 PM  
Blogger Kimberlie Ott said...

Hurray for community! I bet you made his day too, it is a joy to do nice things for others.......in return, pass it on :) Love that life keeps giving ups lessons. You're doing great, sit proud in the saddle!

January 5, 2012 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger Kimberlie Ott said...

oops "us" lessons :)

January 5, 2012 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger Ashley DeMazza said...

small town life can be frustrating but knowing people will always have your back makes up for the "living in a fish bowl" thing.

Ashley DeMazza
Falls Village, CT

January 7, 2012 at 7:25 AM  

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