The sky rumbled ominously as I stood in the middle of our recently cut hay field. Clouds heavy with unfallen rain lay to the north and south of me leaving just a sliver of blue sky centred overhead. I raised my arms to the sky, closing my eyes in prayer, pleading Mother Earth to spare us. A herd of 11 horses dotted the pasture on the other side of the fence and without the dried grasses it would be a rough winter.
A flash of lightening sent me running for the safety of the house. I stood and watched out of the living room window. Watch for what I wondered. It was up to Nature now, chance and the vagaries of the winds. "It is what it is" and either way we'll find a solution.
There were no contingency plans or disaster recovery scenarios that could save the hay from rain. It pained me that I couldn't take a backup, that there were no certainties, so different from my day job where planning was a key activity. We not only had backups, we tested them.
The hay lay there, waiting for whatever might come. I turned my back to the window and turned on my computer.
Miracles still happen - heavy thunderstorms skirted to the north and the south of us, leaving a narrow strip of less than a mile dry.
Two days later the hay was baled and tossed into wagons that were drawn up to the barn. It was time for Carm and I to get to work and as always, it was the hottest, muggiest day of the summer. Bale after bale was brought down from the wagons and stacked in the barn. 500 bales @ 40lbs each meant that we each had carried 20,000 pounds of hay. Our muscles ached and we were soaked in sweat from the work. Good, hard, honest work. The satisfaction of having a barn full of clean, fresh hay can't be measured.
Some years we had help. Boys from a nearby group home helped two years, Deirdre and Kirsten helped another. Help was good, but usually it was just the two of us, working as a team, to get the job done.
We always wore heavy jeans and denim shirts to protect against the sharp cut ends of the hay. One year it was too hot so I wore shorts instead. By the time we were finished my arms and legs were running with blood - I didn't do that again! As the years passed it started to get too hard and we'd dread the call at work that baling was underway. Carm was sick one haying season so we hired a custom baler to make huge 500 pound bales that they stacked outside with a tractor. We covered the stack with huge tarps, tied at the bottom. Even though the large bales were harder to work with during the winter, we never went back to the smalls.
My favourite photo of Carm was taken after an afternoon of stacking hay. He's sweaty and tired looking with a smile on his face. To my eyes it is the vision of true love.
Now, we sit on the deck sipping cold drinks and let someone else have all the worry.
|my favorite photo of Carm|
|one of the wagons arriving at the barn|
|Deirdre throwing bales from the wagon|
|Kirsten in the haystack|
|the group home boys after a long afternoon - and an overflow of hay!|