02 July 2010
It's my Dad's birthday
He's turning 70 today. For his present, we are all writing up some memories to put in a book. I wrote mine like I was telling a story to my kiddos. His life has been anything but ordinary, so it will be fun reading what everyone comes up with.
Haying is not Grandpa’s favorite time of year, but it’s a job that needs to be done, even if it can’t be done from the back of a horse. All of Grandpa’s kids were needed to help in the hay fields at some time or other. With so many older siblings, the youngest girl was not needed in the hay field until she was in her teens. She started out driving the truck and trailer to haul bails for Grandpa to put in the stack yard. Then she was moved up to the rake tractor.
For some reason, the youngest, most inexperienced driver is given the worst tractor to work with. The first tractor she used was an old John Deere that had to be started with a screwdriver touched to a certain place on the starter. Grandpa didn’t show her where or how to start it, he just started it for her and sent her on her way. The hydraulics would get hot and cause the bucket to sag down, so the driver had to be aware and raise it every once in a while. After a few hours of raking, she was feeling hungry and wanted to stop for lunch. She realized she had no idea how to stop the tractor, so she just kept going, hoping someone would come along to help. Finally, the bucket sagged too far without her noticing, and jammed into the ground, causing the tractor to die. After lunch, she had to try to figure out how to get the tractor started again. It took a while of banging around with the screwdriver, but she finally got it going again
Another summer, this same girl was raking again, and again given the worst tractor. This time, it was a Belarus with no clutch. That meant she had to start it in the gear that she wanted to drive in, and stay in that gear. It was a scary thing to do! The tractor would jerk and jump when she tried to start it, and she had to use the throttle to slow down or speed up. As she neared the end of a wind row, she would push the throttle way down, pull the rake up, swing around very quickly to head the other way, drop the rake back down and then pull the throttle back up. It was a difficult thing, but they got the hay raked in record time that year.
One of her favorite haying memories is when she was the only one working with Grandpa that summer. They were haying the Johnny Popper at the Z bar. Grandpa would bring a little lunch for them to share, like tuna fish on a cracker and a pickle slice on top. They would sit on the bank of the empty ditch, in the shade of the trees and eat lunch and visit for a while. Then it was back to work. The two of them got most of the haying done that year and had a little fun while doing it.