Grease guns and shop towels
June is a strange month. The month starts with finishing up brandings, scattering cows to grass, turning out bovine Romeos to start next years calf crop and pulling all the hay equipment out of winter storage. By the end of the month, lunch looks like sandwiches and bags of chips out of a lunchbox as we go back and forth knocking down the first hay of the summer. Hay season is a busy time for us, once we start we usually don’t stop unless we get rained out or need to move cows. Some hay seasons are shorter than others, like last year when it was so dry some of the hay ground barely warranted the time and diesel to cut it. This year we have been blessed with good spring rains and mild weather that have allowed the meadows to really produce.
When hay season rolls around it takes a solid week of washing and cleaning the tractors and feeders that have been used all winter and spring so they can be put away until the fall. The rake, baler, swather and retriever all need rinsed off after being in storage all winter, and the hunt for the ever-elusive grease gun begins. You can be sure that once you find the grease gun it will work for about two zerks before you must go back to the shop and find a new tube of grease. Two things are certain about hay season, the grease gun always seems to be empty when you need it, and clean grease rags are a valuable commodity.
Hay season has to be one of my favorite times of the year. That is pretty impressive for a guy who has a terrible case of hay fever. It is my favorite because every time I start a tractor, or move the swather, my soon to be 4-year-old son begs to go along. He is of the age where he wants to go with dad every day, and that is just fine with me. Some of the best memories of any farm kid come from sitting on the armrest or in the buddy seat watching dad, or mom, operate equipment. That time spent together builds a bond between father and son that those not involved with agriculture cannot quite understand. Young minds like to ask questions, and will ask why until they have an answer that satisfies their curiosity.
The youngsters that spend summers riding in tractors or helping move cows while they get ponied along on an old horse are the next generation that will care for this land. It is important that we as parents, grandparents, and role models, teach kids the right way to do things. Children are just like the grease rag in the shop; they will soak up everything around them. Make sure what they are learning is something you are proud of them learning. When they ask if they can go along, let them. What looks like work to us adults, looks a whole lot like fun and quality time with dad in the eyes of a child.
Acre after acre and windrow after windrow you might have to talk about what happened on the last cartoon they watched, or stop a few more times to water a tire in the field, but rest assured the time you are spending with them is the thing they will remember. That’s all for this time, be safe in the hay field and in case you were wondering, the cab of a swather rocks babies to sleep faster than a rocking chair! Keep tabs on your side of the barbed wire and God Bless.
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