July 21, 2015



Pardon the language, but it’s hell to get old. But, as they say, it beats any other option. As you get older you talk about your ailments. What kind of hearing aids do you have? Who is your doctor? What meds are you on? Who is your druggist? And don’t answer that it’s Miguel down at the corner.
Take this morning for example. I’m in Cheyenne for the “Daddy of em all,” the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. And I packed my own bag! In my shaving kit, I’ve two tubes of stuff. One, you guessed it, is toothpaste. The other is a cortisone cream for a deal on my head that is akin to scabies in cattle. To make a long story short, my teeth will not itch today!
In fact I’ve had trouble all week. Baling. I’ve been baling. And on 90+ degree days, if you want quality hay, you bale at night. Now to me, night is for sleeping. Or poker. Or pinochle. I’ve a nephew who says that “nothing good happens after dark.” He’s kind of right. Especially when you get a little long in the tooth.
I’m baling along at about two in the morning. I don’t have one of those fancy balers that beeps when it gets full. In fact, the baler I borrowed from a neighbor doesn’t have a beeper at all. When it gets full it just quietly wraps the bale, thinking that you have been watching and have stopped your forward progress. Then you pull a hydraulic lever and eject the bale. Sounds simple. If you are a young man or not baling at two in the morning. Oh, and I packed my own lunch. Which may or may not have contained a couple beers. We will leave that for you to decide. Which may or may not have contributed to not noticing a full bale and continuing my forward progress until I had a $300 breakdown.
As I explained to the parts man what had happened, he nodded knowingly. BUI! Baling under the influence.
After a 200-mile trip for repairs, the next day I am baling again. And I finish this field up! I am caught up with the cutter for the first time in two weeks! And I head for home with the baler. I am right by a neighbor’s yard as I kick out the last bale. This baler has made 300 bales and not missed cutting the twine on one bale! I pull into the shop at home and walk around the baler. A taut twine is sticking out the back. Not serious. It probably just started dragging. I tug on it. It is tight. I tug harder. It doesn’t come a bit. There are 40,000 feet in a bale of twine. I didn’t use it all, but if you leave my shop and follow that twine, you will end up at the last bale I made right by a neighbor’s driveway! As we say in the airline industry, pilot error.
But I feel fortunate compared to another friend. When you operate new machinery, many people read the operator’s manual. Many people, not all people. This guy kind of glanced through the manual. On his new baler it recommended putting corn starch on this rubber roller to keep your net wrap from being grabbed and wrapping around this roller. I suppose baby powder would work as well to keep it slick and prevent a frustratingly wrapped-up roller.
This friend had glanced at the operating instructions and didn’t really read them. He went up to the house and got a bottle of corn syrup and poured over that rubber roller. That my friend, is another prime example of “pilot error.”
Happy haying, friends and neighbors!