My first time loading round bales was definitely an experience. Three days out of college for the summer and just finished with finals, I didn’t think my brain could take any more concentrating. But during hay season anything is possible.
I started off the day by following Dad to the field on what I thought would be my designated tractor-a 6200 John Deere- for the day until I realized that I had the bale spear on. As soon as Dad slowed to a stop in the hay field, I abandoned the seat on my tractor and walked over to his. After climbing up, Dad showed me the vital parts- throttle, brakes, and then pointing to another random stick, stated “that’s a hand clutch” and jumped off the tractor and headed for his own. I just stared after him. I shoved the 630 John Deere (yes another John Deere, we are a green tractor type of family) into first and started to learn by doing. Soon I was working that hand clutch like a charm, and hauling bales fell into an easy pattern. Enter field, trade tractors and unhook trailer, follow Dad around to fill trailer, sit in the shade and wait for Dad to fill other trailer, up The Hill, wait for Dad to unload and start all over again.
Mainly a lot of waiting on my part until Dad decided it was time to add a little more to my work load.
That’s when the real experience started. Instead of trading tractors as normally planned, I was motioned back to the 6200 to load my own load of hay. This is the point in time where I wish someone had a video camera to compare the difference between Dad and I loading the bales. When Dad loaded bales, he barely slowed the tractor to pick it up before jutting off to put it smoothly on the trailer and zooming off to the next bale. (If you can zoom around on a tractor)
Meanwhile, I SLOWLY drove up to the bale, stopped, picked it up and then continued on to the trailer. After finally getting to the trailer, it was a mess of forward, backwards, up and down motions just to place the one bale on the trailer. Then the process started all over again. Needless to say, I only got to load two trailers of bales before Dad took over again so we could finish before midnight. Even though I only got to load two loads of bales, it was still a successful day in the hay field with my Dad!
Two weeks after starting, hay is finally done! This hay season was extremely hectic for my family because Bethany got selected for an international agriculture trip through I-CAL. (More information on that later!) Which just happened to fall right after her college graduation and in the middle of hay. Since we were missing a family member in our hay process, this year was a learning experience for me. My current experience in the hayfield consisted of a raking disaster and bringing water to whoever was working. I joined in the actual hay process only to put square bales on the elevator to the barn. But not this year! This year, with it being so warm earlier in the spring our hay went early and Dad had our smaller hay field cut and baled by the time, I got home from Missouri State University. Sunday, we broke the ‘day of rest’ rule and hooked up the tractors early to get all of the round bales hauled out. When the day began, I had no idea how to work the hand clutch on our 630 John Deere and I was scared of The Hill.
The Hill is the worst part of hauling hay with loose gravel covering a long steep hill on the only road to the hay barn. But by the end of the day, I was working the hand clutch like a pro and The Hill was just a measly bump in the road (not really, it still stresses me out a little).With the smaller field done, we moved right into the next field. Or should I say UP to the next field.
Our farm is full of steep rocky hillsides so not only did we have to conquer The Hill but we also had to go down another one before that. Before we could start hauling bales out, I got a lesson in raking the hay. After my fiasco of raking a couple years ago, I was not excited. Rounds later, I dropped Dad off and raking by myself ensued. I must say once I had the hang of it, I was the best hay raker around.
Not only was I raking by myself, but I had learned how to drive my Grandpa’s 444 International tractor; marking my hay education up to three different tractors. With hay season just now over, there are still more adventures to come!
Easter break in college is the normal time for everyone to relax and catch up on all those homework assignments that have been forgotten and put off. As I headed back to school, I realized that I didn’t get to relax or do any homework.
But who can do homework when there is real work to do? On Friday, I got to visit with some of my favorite neighbors when they came over to help with our second round of working cows and finally weaning the calves that got worked a couple of weeks ago.
For my family, we celebrate Easter on Saturday. Nothing like homemade sausage, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean for an Easter dinner. Topped off with ice cream cake and I was in heaven! After supper, my sister and I challenged our cousins to my favorite game, Kick the Can ( or in our case the ice cream tub). If you haven’t played this glorified game of hide and seek, you are missing definitely missing out!
Easter Sunday started off with a relaxing breakfast but that’s where the relaxing ended. After breakfast, my parents and I headed out to the Osage Bend farm to pick up the tractor and sprayer. Of course nothing is simple when it comes to farming.
Instead of just starting the tractor and hooking up the sprayer, I had to put a new battery on the tractor. With my dad still not up to par in the health department from last week, I had to do it by myself. With the tractor running, I hoped in our Dodge truck for the only the second round of driving lessons on a stick shift. After a LOT of excitement (and yelling), our little caravan headed to the river bottom to pick up the sprayer with Mom in the lead on the tractor and Dad and I following in the truck. Getting the sprayer hooked up with a little more excitement (and a lot more yelling), we headed back up the hill to with the tractor and sprayer. Since it was getting late, we (ok, Dad decided) that we could just haul it home the next night. After getting home, we spent the rest of the night just the way I love to- sitting on the back deck, enjoying family and the view that our animals munching on their hay provide. Some people hate working on the holidays, but with my job, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Happy Easter from our farm family to yours!
Sounds like a funny combination, don’t you think? It seemed like the whole weekend revolved around these words. Last week, my dad had surgery on his shoulder and knee so instead of coming home to relax and ride horses, I got to do all my normal chores plus most of Dad’s. His To Do list didn’t get much smaller when I realized after a round of Bute, Chex was still limping in her back left leg.
With barrel season right around the corner, it was time to call the vet. We needed more feed too so instead of a farm call; we brought the Chex to the vet. With our vet’s office having a small parking lot, instead of actually parking in the parking lot, we just parked on the road and walked Chex up the hill to the clinic (don’t worry the road had really big shoulders!). Saturdays at a vet office are always crazy and this was no exception. But most Saturdays don’t involve a horse standing on the front lawn. Everyone coming in and out of the vet clinic noticed the horse and I am surprised people didn’t run off the road from all the staring that happened! The vet checked her out, and I wasn’t happy with the diagnosis. A pulled ligament which means two weeks of more Bute and slowly working her back onto shape.
So instead of knocking building electric fence off Dad’s To-Do list, I got to haul hoses, water troughs and feed buckets around so we could separate Chex from the other horses and still feed and water everyone. After getting everyone separated, I got to do one of my favorite farm jobs- feeding hay. At the end of the day there is nothing more relaxing than knowing that all your animals are happy and healthy (well besides Chex and her leg).
And I’m not talking about Spring or Cardinal’s baseball. I’m talking about my favorite two seasons of the year: tractor pulls and rodeos.
To me, there is nothing better than jumping in the truck and heading to a different town and a different competition. Whether it’s a tractor pull or a rodeo, I’m always in that passenger seat (I haven’t conquered the stick shift yet, maybe I’ll throw that on my Leap List!) Last year, my mom and I hit every rodeo we could with the NBHA and Show Me TEC. But this year could be a whole different story for rodeos. With me at college and my horses at home, they are in no shape to run competitively at the moment. With two horses getting no exercise and all the mud at our house, Chex has been a little swollen in her back end. So that leaves me with Rowdy as a barrel horse. At 16 hands and only seven years old, he’s in his prime to be a great barrel horse…if I only had the time to ride him. Maybe I need some more time to ride or someone to do it for me. Any volunteers?
Since rodeos won’t be a big part of my summer, I had to find some time else to do with all my free time (Wait, what’s free time?). My dad eagerly filled that spot when he decided that he was going to get back into the tractor pull business, and by tractor pulls, I don’t mean the ones that throw a bunch of smoke and drive really fast. I mean the farm pulls with no smoke and a speed limit of 8 MPH. But hey it still gets my competitive juices flowing. The Markway’s don’t do anything easy so instead of just buying a tractor to pull, Dad decides that we are going to work from the ground up and completely restore a 1952 John Deere A with M&W Power Block (if you don’t know tractor talk, the Power Block means we are awesome, any more details and I would have to ask Dad).
This weekend was a major step in our future of tractor pulling because we got ole’ Hank (or at least that’s what I call the John Deere A) started for the first time. I must say after all the sanding and painting I did on that thing, it was a very proud moment, but I don’t think anybody could be more proud than Dad! So instead of a horse and trailer, this summer I get to travel with the MATPA and a tractor. If you are ever in the area and in need of some friendly competition, look us up!