Gramps had nearly 40 head of horses at one time. His farming operation really existed for the horses. I remember discussions about money between gramma and gramps when she'd buy herself a new dress, which was rare, she'd say "you spend more on feed for those horses in a day than I do on clothes in a year". Gramps resorted to heavy chewing on his cigar, knowing he had no defense.
So, much of his fields were put out to hay or pasture for the horses. My cousins and I grew up with hay bailing and making hay "forts" in the barn loft. Something all too wonderful about hacking up hay dust after a hard day's work unloading wagons. Until recently, I only had one "most memorable hay bailing story". So now I'll share both.
Somehow one Saturday, when I was about 15, gramps had 4 wagons of hay to unload into his hay barn and all his help had left. This left just me. I think he thought that the rain would hold off. But as the day went on, the rain clouds began to build and I was the one guy who could help. I was the "stacker" which means gramps threw the bails off the wagon-and I had to stack them, by myself-and gramps liked to bail the hay tight-which means heavy. That was a long, tiring day for a scrawny 15 year old. And I missed a date that night. But I guess I'll always have that memory.
Then, after a long hiatus from bailing hay-about 17 years, a buddy of mine had heard my longing for the good 'ol hay bailing days, and invited me to participate on his gentleman's farm. There was a wagon that needed unloaded after a meeting we had scheduled. I thought, sure, even though I was feeling a little tired, that would be great. We started late and didn't finish until almost midnight. I don't remember unloading and stacking with gramps to be that hard, nor that hot. I was drenched. He offered me a cold beer, which I should have passed up since I don't typically imbibe anyway. I paid for it in the morning..........but got the day off work.
Now, those of you who have never had the joy of bailing, this probably doesn't mean much. But for you Hoosiers out there who have paid your dues & done your time....I hope this brought back some fond memories. Probably made you itch a little too.