Haying season is here, and for me it is a sweet time of recollection. I’ve worked with small round bales, small squares and eventually large round bales. Each required specific equipment and skills. It is the small bales I recall most fondly.
The little round bales came first. Weather hardy, you could bale now and pick up later. If it rained on them, weâ€™d just wait until they dried.
When I was about eight, my job was to steer a B John Deere between two rows of round bales while an older brother on either side of the hayrack, flipped balesÂ to a third brother who stacked them five high. I still remember with chagrin the day a full load traversed an open badger hole on a hillside and bales and brother flipped off.
When we shifted to a square baler, I was still the designated driver, but on a 630 John Deere with power steering.Â When my next older brother was drafted, I moved up to stacker.
This was a tricky job, balancing on the hayrack and building a tight stack five layers high with a single layer down the center top. At age 15, it was my pride and joy to build a 125-bale load that sat tight as a brick as the wagon bounced back to the barn.
When I returned from the army at 20, a kicker had been added. While it was easier, the art of stacking was gone. Also gone was the camaraderie of the stacker and driverÂ working as a team, always trying to load the hayrack before the next empty arrived.
I miss those hot sunny days, bouncing across the fields on a hayrack and working with others to a common end.