Hauling Hay with Toddler

Every summer we spend countless hours swathing, raking, baling, and hauling the hay we will feed our cows during the winter months.  This process repeats itself three or four times throughout the summer depending on how much water we have and weather conditions.  I love riding in the swather or tractor with Mr. Rancher since I get to sit there and chatter away while he does all the hard work.  Lately though, Mr. Rancher has given me a new job…driving our semi through the field while he darts around with the tractor, stacking and loading the hay bales onto the trailer.  I would like to say that I was surprised the first time Ty suggested I come help him by driving the huge truck, but after three years of marriage to a rancher I know it’s not a question of “if” but rather “when” I will have to operate any piece of machinery we own.

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I even got the semi into gear and moving all on my own!  Shifting into reverse was more difficult and Ty had to get out of the tractor and shift through the window for me.  How was I supposed to know I had the clutch pushed in too far?  Any other manual transmission I’ve driven has to have the clutch absolutely floored to shift without damaging the clutch and I just assumed flooring the clutch pedal in the semi would work as well.  So there.

Shifting aside, driving the semi really was a cinch, except for my passenger.  Miss Henley did not want to sit in her own seat and climbed all over me and the controls for the duration of hay hauling.  For our last load, I thankfully found a partially eaten package of Ritz crackers that kept her seated and occupied until we were all loaded and driving back to the stack yard.  Crackers save the day!

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I just love random, weird pictures like this.  It really captures a lot of the hauling experience.IMG_0746

This load of hay is from a different hay-hauling-day in a different field.  We were so close to being finished and Mr. Rancher didn’t want to make another trip out to the field so he stacked the bales four-high rather than three-high.  He had the good sense to drive the heavily loaded semi up to the hay barn himself and I drove the tractor.

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We made it back to the barn and Henley amused herself with her favorite playmate Bo while Mr. Rancher unloaded and stacked the bales under the barn’s protective, red roof.  I, of course, took pictures and kept an eye out for snakes.  You never know when or where one of those scaly nasties might slither by.

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Bo is the nicest dog.  I’m so grateful he is patient with the Little Miss’s antics and overwhelming attention.

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I think she would’ve sat there all night if we (and Bo) had let her!

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That, in a nutshell, is what it’s like to haul hay with a toddler.  Oh, and it’s hot.  Very very hot.  And dusty…And I think the Little Miss is finally awake so I’ll stop there.

Have a great weekend, folks!

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