Practice makes perfect and Lee and I are probably well on our way of being the most perfect hauling hay losers around. Now, you don’t get this good at losing hay overnight. Lee and I have been practicing losing hay loads for over thirty years. And, we have found there are a variety of ways and places to lose hay.
When Lee was a small boy, he and his family put up the farm hay in loose round hay stacks. One day while hauling in a wagon load, with him and his brother perched on top, the wagon hit a hole, the whole load shifted, and the next thing Lee and his brother knew, they were sliding to the ground with a whole wagon load of hay around them. When his brother sat up, a pitchfork was stuck in the ground beside him. After that, they quit putting the pitchforks in the loose hay to haul to the barn area. This was one of Lee’s first experiences in hauling hay.
When Lee married me, we had to haul hay for the horses. Back then there were no manuals on hauling hay bales, it was all trial and error. When we were transferred to Carlsbad, NM, we soon discovered we had a horse that was sensitive to the alfalfa grown there. All her life she had had grass hays and when put on alfalfa, it was like a purge, a super X-Lax, you get my meaning. One good thing, the race track, Ruidoso Downs wasn’t too far off where they sold grass hays for the race horses.
We jumped in our truck and headed for that race track to get this mare something she could eat. On the trip back, we were happily driving along, and suddenly three or four bales worked their way out of the rope that kept them in place with the others and fell off the truck. If you’ve ever driven in New Mexico, it tends to be flat, straight roads, rarely a pot hole anywhere, and why on earth some bales popped out of the load is a mystery.
An even bigger mystery was when we stopped, turned around to go back and get the bales we had lost, they weren’t in sight. There wasn’t a house, car, nothing in the whole flat area. So, where on earth did those bales go?
When I told my nephew about it, he said he would have hunkered down, sneaked backed to the truck and high tailed it out of there fast. I think he was thinking it was a "Beam me up, Scottie," type of thing. After all, we were close to Roswell. Not having quite as active an imagination as my nephew, Lee and I just stomped around going, "What on earth?! Where did those hay bales go?"
Now let’s skip forwards a good many years where we are buying hay for the goats. We buy hay from other small farmers like ourselves and like most balers belonging to small time farmers like ourselves, the balers are very temperamental. One time they put out tight square bales, another time they put out squishy uneven bales. Now you try to stack bales like that on a load, tie it down, and then go over steep hills, twisty roads with plenty of pot holes, and bales are just going to start squirting out between the ropes.
One year we were at the top of a particularly steep twisty road, the load shifted and square bales squirted out and went sailing out over the hill. Some stayed air born until they hit the road far down below. Fortunately, there are good neighbors up and down these steep hills and they must be use to hay haulers, because the neighbors calmly collected the bales that had survived the trip down and stacked them by the road so we could pick them up on the way down that steep hill. To them, this was a very common occurrence.
Last winter found us running short of hay and we went over yet another steep, twisty mountain road with plenty of pot holes, and on one particularly sharp turn, somehow we squirted out not only some square bales, but one very large 800 pound round bale. This caused us quite a bit of concern because we were afraid the round bale might squash someone’s house on it’s way down. Fortunately, a tree stopped it in the woods half way down the hill, so Lee called the farmer we had just bought the hay from and told him there was one round bale on the hill in the deep woods and if he could get it out, he could have it or give it to someone who needed it.
Now, the farmer wasn’t interested, but it sounded like a good challenge to his son and a neighborhood friend. Those two boys just about gutted themselves rolling that round bale out of the woods to where the tractor could pick it up. Don’t know what they did with it, but they were very proud of getting it out.
And, just the other day, we picked up another load of hay on the flatbed trailer and the truck. We were cautiously making our way home on reasonably good roads and hit a patch where the road constantly caves in towards the Ohio River and the State Road constantly keeps filling and paving, leaving a very bouncy road to go over. Having large squishy bales, we slowly went over the much patched on road. Drivers, tired of our caution, flew around us.
Good thing. Just a little bit beyond that bumpy, wavy patch of road, bales started squirting out everywhere. Fortunately they squirted out on just the one side of the road. Lee quickly pulled over, retightened the load, and we studied the long patch of road with busted hay bales along the edge.
We decided that this close to home, we could run and park the load of hay at the farm, hook up the old blue truck to the old stock trailer and charge back before all that hay mysteriously disappeared (remember the New Mexico incident?).
When we came high tailing it back to pick up the loose hay along the road, low and behold, it was all there. Evidently people did not feel up to the job of stopping and filling the back seat and trunk of their cars up with loose hay. Amazing.
We salvaged the 18 bales of loose hay and brought it home and gave it to the goats. They thought it a wonderful treat to get some loose hay in the middle of summer.
Recently I told Lee that I had commissioned getting 80 round bales, much larger then the one that rolled over the hill last winter. Lee turned a little green around the gills and I asked him what was wrong. He said he had just experienced a panic attack.
I put his mind at ease and reminded him that anyone who was as professional as we were at losing hay, what else could happen? We’d lost hay every way possible. We were ready for anything now. What could possibly surprise us now? Oh, but be advised, any drivers out there that come upon a slow moving truck and flatbed trailer full of hay, do not go into a road rage because you had to slow down, and start crowding and trying to push the offending hay caravan to a faster speed. Squishy hay bales have a mind of their own and can take vengeance at any given moment.