July 11, 2017



If you haven’t noticed, there is a severe drought taking place across much of the Dakotas. It extends into Montana as far west as Miles City. Maybe further now. I haven’t been to Wyoming. But I just figure it is always dry there.
You see people haying some pretty poor stuff. Road ditches that make a bale or two to the mile. Side hills that normally are left alone. Crops that are too poor to combine but may make a bale an acre. Hay is scarce.
In North Dakota we have only two seasons. “Putting up hay season” and “feeding hay season.” They tend to overlap at times.
This past week I made some small square bales. They are often referred to as “idiot blocks.” You don’t see many of them anymore. That made it hard for cowboys and cowgirls on the rodeo trail. Often little squares in the road ditch were very inviting when hauling a trailer load of horses over the road when rodeoing. It wasn’t really stealing. It was just kind of thought of as “I’d do the same for him.”
Years ago, one of my friends was asked to ride along while one of these heists was taking place. The older, wiser driver, told the young roper to jump out and grab a couple bales of hay out of the road ditch. It just happened that the owner of the hay came down the road.
He pulled up, rolled down his window, and inquired, “What do you think you are doing young man?”
My friend, who is known for his dry sense of humor, calmly replied, “I guess I’m buying hay.”
Anyway, back to my square bales.
I used to haul a lot of them. I could pitch them pretty good. I never was real smart, but I was fairly strong. I used a fork a lot. This week we had the grand-kids stacking while Will and I loaded. Now remember, they are like 12, 9, and 4. Not very big. But we were getting along alright until Grandpa started to play out. I broke my pitchfork. My Grandpa always said, “Anyone can break a pitchfork, but it takes a heck of a man to wear one out!” I broke mine.
We went home and got the skid steer to lift them up. And those boys kept stacking pretty dang good.
Now, by the time we get done, the experienced bale stacker (me) was pretty well played out. I mean I’m dragging. And the boys are running and jumping and dang near falling off this load of bales that I was scared to stand on.
And Evan, the oldest boy, told his Dad, “I love this. Hauling bales just makes me feel alive!”
It was a wonderful thing to hear. It is too bad that youth and exuberance are wasted on young people.