They’d be Savage!

Its pissing down here now, has been all day, but earlier in the week, Keith mowed the lawn and got it in nice shape again, a never ending job.  But whenever I see the neat and well kept lawns nowadays, and even more so back home, I can’t help but hear Uncle Luther grumbling with me and all kids to keep out of the grass.  Not because it was neat and well tended, but because he didn’t want it trampled, and wanted it to grow to make hay for the horses.

I wasn’t all that old when he passed away, nor did people tend to keep horses much beyond my early teens as ski-doos and atv’s became more practical, but back then it was a summer chore of mine to turn the hay, and rake it in the evenings. Many days of back breaking labor were involved in cutting it down with a scythe.  Those things were a chore in and of themselves as dad always had to keep a stone in his back pocket to keep it sharp.  Dad may have been a bit of a perfectionist with it anyway, as he kept his sharp enough to shave the hair on his arm.  Was always a worry when in the barn to not accidentally touch it.

Old Hay Prong (Eric Cooper Picture)

Joe Baker with an old Hay Prong (Eric Cooper Picture)

On sunny days we’d spread the hay on the field to dry, and then turn it with the old prong  (still seems funny to me how something with two large tines so far spread was used on something so slight as hay)about half way through the afternoon.  Then rake it again into a stack in the evening and cover it with a bren (essentially bren bags taken apart and sewed into a larger tarp) weighted at the corners by rocks.  Once it was dry, I can see dad in my minds eye now loading up a huge bren with hay and walking across the garden, and up the ramp to the loft over the stable.  I can’t even begin to tell you how big it was, but it dwarfed him.  I know hay didn’t weigh a lot, but holy god so much had to.

The hay was used to feed the horses in the winter of course, and I can still remember the smell of hay all over me as we played in the stable loft, heedless of the millions of sneezes that it caused to erupt from me.

With all the need we had for hay back in those days, I can hear them grumbling about lawn mowing now… they’d be savage!