I’ve listened to my father tell of how they put up hay. They stacked it loose, then tromped it down. That was the only way.
He said, “We had a hayin’ crew of ten to twelve good men. Those country boys weren’t scared of work. That’s all they knew back then.”
The men would get an early start, but first came ham and eggs. “They ate a lot,” my father said. “They all had hollow legs.”
That work was nothing new to them, and now it’s never seen. They worked so well together like a finely tuned machine.
Someone was always kidding ‘cuz they loved to joke around. But they knew how far to push it. Might get pounded in the ground.
At twelve o’clock the workers stopped to rest and get renewed. The horses ate their bags of oats. The men wolfed down their food.
They’d take an hour, then back to work right up to supper time, then line up at the water trough to wash off dirt and grime.
There were no skimpy appetites. Those men sure loved to eat. At night the cook out-did himself with beefy chunks of meat.
The men slept in the bunkhouse. Some played checkers up till dark. But most of them were sound asleep before night made its mark.
It wasn’t just about the hay. ‘Twas camaraderie. But those hayin’ days have changed, I’d say, from pure necessity.
And now I look out in the fields and watch a farmer hay. So much is automated. We’ve sure come a long, long way.
I wonder if he ever thinks about those days of old when men would rather work than play. I guess God broke the mold.
And I’ll bet he’ll tell a story, when his hayin’ days are through, of how he put the hay up with his danged near one-man crew.