Tuesday, June 3, 2008


The cutting, baling, and bringing in of hay continues at Howell Farm this week.

On Saturday, we raised a wagonload of loose hay up into the ox barn using rope, pulley, and a big claw. We hoisted in the last load just a minute before a cell of torrential rain came rumbling through and soaked everything. Our timing was good.

I learned something about the phrase, "Like finding a needle in a hay stack." My youthful imagining of this adage was of distraught ladies of the sewing profession sifting through mounds of hay in search of a needle they had carelessly dropped. On Saturday, however, I was introduced to a real hay needle, a long, slender, solid piece of steel shoved down into a pile of loose hay to help keep it from falling off the wagon.

In truth, I was a little disappointed. The hay needle was three feet long, and weighed a few pounds. Finding it in a haystack might provide a moderate challenge, but not the hopeless labor of futility I had previously associated with the task.

I was also questioned at the farm last week on the origin of the phrase, "Waiting for the other shoe to drop." This has nothing to do with hay, but I thought Farmbedded readers might like to know. Here's what Google told me:

"Its source would seem to be the following story. A man comes in late at night to a lodging house, rather the worse for wear. He sits on his bed, drags one shoe off and drops it on the floor. Guiltily remembering everyone around him trying to sleep, he takes the other one off much more carefully and quietly puts it on the floor. He then finishes undressing and gets into bed. Just as he is drifting off to sleep, a shout comes from the man in the room below: 'Well, drop the other one then! I can’t sleep, waiting for you to drop the other shoe!'"

Such etymologic distractions are a good break from throwing around hay bales, which is tough work. This morning we unloaded three wagons into the barn using a hay conveyer, and this afternoon I'm told the fabled "Man Killer" horse-drawn hay-loading machine will finally make an appearance. I've been bragging to the guys at work that the machine will henceforth be known as the "Man Pleasant Afternoon on the Farm" machine after I'm finished demonstrating my prowess on it, but that was last week when I was still feeling the best of my strength. Now I'm feeling like I could use a few steak dinners and another weekend off before saddling up.