Hay Season

Three sisters, our mom, and our baby brother waited in the rickety red wagon, our job to stack the hay as it was baled. Dad positioned the tractor over a row of alfalfa and started the baler, filling the field with a deafening roar.  The baler devoured the hay, sending it into a rectangular  chute where it was compacted and tied into a fifty-pound bale before being shot into the wagon.

It took some time for Dad to perfect his technique.  The bales were too loose and fell apart.  They became tight and heavy as Dad overcorrected his mistake.  And sometimes, if rain threatened, the hay came too fast to stack.


The work left our limbs crisscrossed with scratches.  Dirt and hay found its way beneath clothes, into our hair and teeth and shoes. 

It didn’t take long to develop a distaste for haying.  Dad turned the corner of the field and I thought for sure the wagon would burst apart from the strain of containing the indignation of his teenage daughters.  Sometimes I hoped it would, relieving us of our duties, at least for the day.  But somehow, that old wagon hung on for another turn, another day, another season, until we were making hay good enough to sell to our neighbors.

My family lives in a development of dual-income families.  We contract out pieces of our lives—lawn service, laundry, cleaning—so that we can earn a living.  Nameless laborers sweep in quiet as a whisper and finish their work before we return, a sign tucked into the grass the only evidence of their existence.

“A lot of work,” my neighbors tell me, when I talk about the farm.

It was hard work and sometimes it felt as if it would never end.  I remember the bales of hay neatly stacked.  The glistening jars of jelly, beans and corn.  The packages of beef and pork in the freezer.

And, in remembering, I recall what it means to truly earn a living.

***

This post was written in response to Trifecta's Writing Challenge.   This weekend what we are asking from you is a little bit different (again). Many of you regularly submit fictional responses to our prompts. This weekend we are asking for a bit of your memoirs. We want a real account of a period in your life that can be clearly identified by (wait for it) the number three. Maybe it's the three decades you spent flipping burgers. Maybe it's the three seconds you hesitated justifiably before saying "I do." We'd like for your story to be true-ish, and we'd like for it to be an artistic creation, not just a play-by-play account. Think less "blog post" and more "creative writing."

Obviously, these criteria are about as subjective as they come, but we are convinced that you guys will deliver the fantastic and that we'll know it when we see it. You have from 0-333 words to get it done. Have fun. And good luck!

This piece was also linked to http://yeahwrite.me/61-open-hangout/.



           

Labels: , ,

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Hay Season

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hay Season

Three sisters, our mom, and our baby brother waited in the rickety red wagon, our job to stack the hay as it was baled. Dad positioned the tractor over a row of alfalfa and started the baler, filling the field with a deafening roar.  The baler devoured the hay, sending it into a rectangular  chute where it was compacted and tied into a fifty-pound bale before being shot into the wagon.

It took some time for Dad to perfect his technique.  The bales were too loose and fell apart.  They became tight and heavy as Dad overcorrected his mistake.  And sometimes, if rain threatened, the hay came too fast to stack.


The work left our limbs crisscrossed with scratches.  Dirt and hay found its way beneath clothes, into our hair and teeth and shoes. 

It didn’t take long to develop a distaste for haying.  Dad turned the corner of the field and I thought for sure the wagon would burst apart from the strain of containing the indignation of his teenage daughters.  Sometimes I hoped it would, relieving us of our duties, at least for the day.  But somehow, that old wagon hung on for another turn, another day, another season, until we were making hay good enough to sell to our neighbors.

My family lives in a development of dual-income families.  We contract out pieces of our lives—lawn service, laundry, cleaning—so that we can earn a living.  Nameless laborers sweep in quiet as a whisper and finish their work before we return, a sign tucked into the grass the only evidence of their existence.

“A lot of work,” my neighbors tell me, when I talk about the farm.

It was hard work and sometimes it felt as if it would never end.  I remember the bales of hay neatly stacked.  The glistening jars of jelly, beans and corn.  The packages of beef and pork in the freezer.

And, in remembering, I recall what it means to truly earn a living.

***

This post was written in response to Trifecta's Writing Challenge.   This weekend what we are asking from you is a little bit different (again). Many of you regularly submit fictional responses to our prompts. This weekend we are asking for a bit of your memoirs. We want a real account of a period in your life that can be clearly identified by (wait for it) the number three. Maybe it's the three decades you spent flipping burgers. Maybe it's the three seconds you hesitated justifiably before saying "I do." We'd like for your story to be true-ish, and we'd like for it to be an artistic creation, not just a play-by-play account. Think less "blog post" and more "creative writing."

Obviously, these criteria are about as subjective as they come, but we are convinced that you guys will deliver the fantastic and that we'll know it when we see it. You have from 0-333 words to get it done. Have fun. And good luck!

This piece was also linked to http://yeahwrite.me/61-open-hangout/.



           

Labels: , ,

21 Comments:

At June 9, 2012 at 8:37 PM , Anonymous Bev said...

what lovely writing! i found you and your blog through She Writes. my husband and i farm on the alberta prairie. i homeschool my youngest child (13) and have only recently began to write. i would love you to check out my blog
http://blackinkpaperie.blogspot.com
new follower bev

 
At June 9, 2012 at 9:50 PM , Anonymous b steeves said...

hope i'm not posting the same comment twice. what lovely writing. i found you and your blog through She Writes. my husband and i farm on the alberta prairie and i homeschool my youngest daughter (13). i am new to writing but enjoy it so much and i would love for you to check out my blog,
http://www.blackinkpaperie.blogspot.com
thanks
new follower bev

 
At June 9, 2012 at 11:05 PM , Anonymous Trifectawritingchallenge said...

Thanks for linking up with Trifextra this weekend. This reminds me of a book I read several years ago, "Better Off" http://www.amazon.com/Better-Off-Flipping-Switch-Technology/dp/0060570040. The idea that hard work earns more than money. I really enjoyed this piece. Especially the part about the indignation being nearly enough to break the wagon. Great job with the prompt.

 
At June 10, 2012 at 5:54 AM , Anonymous jaum said...

Fond memories.... and I remember it not being so hard. Course I was driving the Allis Chalmers....But fixing bayler knotters was kind of frustrating.. and trying to get done before rain.... and unloading the hay in the barn... Come to think of it.. it's good those days are gone

 
At June 10, 2012 at 9:25 AM , Anonymous Jessie Powell said...

I grew up on an animal farm in Ohio. We didn't own the land, though, just lived in the farmhouse. Later, we bought the land and rented the fields to neighbors to keep their horses. I have known haying season. I have never baled the hay, but I had an elderly friend (she was 86) who described digging her elbow into her side to stack hay as a child and doing it so many times that she dug a hole in her internal organs. She lost an ovary to hay season in the 1930s, when surgery was nothing short of agony. And then she went septic and lost her other ovary and her uterus. So she lost her ability to have kids to that hated chore.

 
At June 10, 2012 at 6:43 PM , Anonymous Lucy Sparks said...

I was raised in Queens, NY and to read this account of your childhood is so foreign to me yet you described it so well that I could totally picture it. Great piece!

 
At June 10, 2012 at 9:15 PM , Anonymous JannaTWrites said...

I've been a city dweller my whole life, so your description makes farm life seem especially difficult. I like your last line about remembering what it means to truly make a living.

 
At June 11, 2012 at 4:24 AM , Anonymous Sandrasfiberworks said...

Wow, this is really interesting material! You should use this "setting" in a novel! And how did you ever find my book?

 
At June 11, 2012 at 5:35 AM , Anonymous The Gal Herself said...

I love the tip of the hat you give to those who slip in and out of your neighborhood, "quiet as a whisper." I can see where you get your respect for their labor!

 
At June 11, 2012 at 6:29 AM , Anonymous De Jackson (WhimsyGizmo) said...

This is an excellent slice of childhood, beautifully told - the bad, and the comforting good. Well done. Loved the "indignation" line. :)

 
At June 11, 2012 at 7:55 AM , Anonymous Imelda said...

What a lovely well written piece of memoir. My eyes misted at the beauty and simplicity of what was gone (even though it was hard work). :-)

~Imelda

 
At June 11, 2012 at 12:08 PM , Anonymous Robin Aché said...

I thought your description of "work" and "labor" was well executed here. I enjoyed the elaboration of it and wanted to hear more.

 
At June 12, 2012 at 3:29 AM , Anonymous Mary said...

I continue to be ambivalent about those days, but you captured one aspect beautifully. So many miss that type of experience and the chance to experience the work ethic first hand.

 
At June 12, 2012 at 5:38 AM , Anonymous Annabelle said...

Neat window into a kind of life I've never lived. Thanks for sharing it!

 
At June 12, 2012 at 7:50 AM , Anonymous Mayor Gia said...

Ooof, sounds like hard work!

 
At June 12, 2012 at 10:58 AM , Anonymous Patricia said...

Your description was beautiful. I could picture the wagon with your family on it.

 
At June 12, 2012 at 2:41 PM , Anonymous Carebear said...

Amazing writing. I was right there in the field with you. Hard work yes, but work that you could be proud of. Beautiful.

 
At June 12, 2012 at 5:00 PM , Anonymous Coming East said...

That last line ties it together so well. Nicely done,

 
At June 13, 2012 at 9:08 AM , Anonymous Dawn said...

I really enjoyed this post, and found your descriptions to be perfect! It definitely left me wanting to read more as well.
Good job!

 
At June 14, 2012 at 1:46 PM , Anonymous Robbie K said...

I remember going with my aunt to her friends farm to help with hay baling. Loved these details-and last line is perfection.

 
At June 15, 2012 at 5:32 AM , Anonymous katieross83 said...

This brings back both good and bad memories. I worked on a horse farm through high school and part of college. I grew to hate hay, too...but what's more? I grew to hate horse manure...every last pile of it.

Great job setting the scene here! I felt like I was there.

 

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