It's been a few years since I was on a hay rack stacking bales.

OK, maybe more than a few years.

What's that, totally honesty? Well, we're approaching a half-century or so. You see, back 'in the day' as a teenager, we'd look for 'pert near anyway to scratch up a few bucks for fun. Selling sweet corn, trapping gophers, and in the hot summer, baling hay.

You'd seem them everywhere, those rectangular bales. Nope, you sure don't see them much anymore. Now, of course, it's the big round ones (or the big rectangular ones, take your pick). Lift 'em up with that tractor loader.

Yeah, well we didn't see those in the old days, least not where I grew up.

It was stack 'em on the rack and haul 'em to the barn, up the elevator into the hay loft, and re-stacked there. And someone had to do the stackin'...and that's where earning the fun money came in.

I (and lots of my friends) would 'hire out' to neighbors and farm friends for a day (or two or three) of riding the rack behind the tractor and baler, stacking those puppies up and up till that rack couldn't hold anymore. Then unhook that one, and start on the next. There might be one of us on that hay rack, or on some days, two.

Oh, and the good thing about being on the hay rack?

You weren't in the barn! Being up in that hay loft with those bails dropping off the elevator with no breeze? Well, it's was hot and dusty...but there'd be money at the end!

How much money? Well, I suppose it seems quaint now, but as I recall (and hey, it was darn near a half-century ago), it was a buck-fifty an hour. Yep, getting money for the weekend $1.50 an hour at a time.

Could I do that now? Hey listen, if I can walk from the deck on a hot summer day to the fridge to get a perfectly chilled longneck, that's about as good as I can do. My days of baling hay, hoisting bales, stacking in a hay loft...those days are gone. And part of me says 'Good Riddance!'

But....a big part of me would go back there in a heartbeat. Standing on that hay rack, perhaps with an old friend or maybe a new one. Seeing the farmer's wife driving out to the field in a beat up 'ol pick-up with dinner (Yes, dinner...that was the noon meal), sitting in the shade of the tractor eating and talking about what Killebrew did for the Twins last night, and at the end of the day (sometimes) sitting in a chair of that farmers lawn and at the age of 15 or 16 taking a long swig off a cold one (never mind what that cold one might be).

And pocketing enough money for a couple bucks of gas for the weekend, admission money for the drive-in movie and burgers (and whatever else!) after.

Yeah, I'd take that heat and hay again.


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