FARM KIDS AND FLYING HAY.

We had an 80-acre farm in Wisconsin that grew veggies for canning for winter food.  We also grew wheat, corn, and hay for the winter critters.  We raised beef cattle, had horses for fun, and a 4-H project with rabbits that got way out of control but filled the freezers with meat for a year (that’s another story).

One of my fondest memories growing up was of making hay.  Now before you panic, let me explain.  These were the old, small bales, the ones that usually weighed between 50-80 pounds and a normal adult could pick up and throw around.  This process became a family tradition.

We were the family with all the land and all the equipment, so when it came time to doing something like making hay, it was an extended family event.  Cousins, Aunts, Uncles and even some close family friends would be involved.  The parents and older kids worked the fields, while the kids got to work up in the haystack in the barn (I know, we were ripped off!).  The lower starting levels were not bad; but as the stack grew and the gap between the top of the hay and the top of the barn got smaller, the heat got more intense.  I don’t remember anyone passing out, but I also do not remember anyone coming out of there dry.

hay-baler-pic

(This is close to what ours was like, except back then there were no side racks, the hay came off the baler and we pulled it onto the wagon and stacked it.  The wheels were also up front and in back instead of in the middle)

The only major issue I remember is at the end of one season; the kids were allowed to go out and ride the last wagon of hay back (huge praise for our kid work).  My dad’s brother, Uncle Vern, was the tractor driver that day.  The wagon was full, we were all on top, and he was cruising back to the house.

The road from the hay field to the barn had only one stop.  The problem was it was at an intersection that sat at the bottom of a very steep hill (appropriately there also happened to be an old cemetery right across the street from where we had to stop – a very spooky cemetery!).  Well, Uncle Vern knew how bad this intersection was so he had been watching the top of the hill as we approached.  Instead of coming to a complete stop Uncle stood up, looked both ways one more time and then gunned the tractor.   (Everyone hated that turn because you couldn’t see anyone coming until they were already over the hill and just about on that intersection…this is why I said the cemetery was: appropriately placed there – eeek!).  He started the turn, was going a bit too fast, the hay on the wagon was not tied down (ya, no one even thought to do it back then), and we all tipped over!  The hay and the kids flew.  The tractor and, surprisingly, the wagon remained on their wheels.

UNCLE VERN STOPPED!

Parents from the house were watching from the top of the hay barn and saw us all fly.  Immediately they came rushing down the hill to help.  One group stopped traffic up by our driveway on the top of the hill.  Another group went to stop traffic in the other directions.  The rest ran to our aid.  You should have seen their faces.

NO ONE WAS HURT – NOT EVEN A SCRATCH, AND WE WERE LAUGHING!

 calvin-n-hobbes-laughing

Yep, crazy farm kids, had a blast flying off the top of the bales into the ditch.  It was grassy and semi-soft.  We were on the top of the stacked bales, so nothing landed on top of us, and besides; we all had jumped from greater heights inside the barn into the straw pile.  We thought it was fun – scary, but fun.  Later, eventually, so did our parents.

hay-wagon-pic

(This is very close to what it looked like before the dump.  The bales were stacked the same way, only add one more top row – 5 high – and we sat on top.) Ahhh,  childhood memories!

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helbergfarmstories

I love to write. It is one of the constants in my life that brings me joy. I also love to tell stories, read, knit, crochet, weave, plant gardens, raise our own food, play game with my grandson and throw out my wicked sense-of-humor every chance I get (parents fault – they raised us this way, and I am very glad of it!). I have hundreds of great stories from my life that I want to share. Most are very humorous, some maybe not so much. I hope that all are found interesting. Some of the things that have happened to me in life are: • Growing up on a farm in Wisconsin. • Raising and creating 4-H projects for the fair. • Growing food through natural methods (no chemicals here). • Learning (via trial-and-error methods) how to process all kinds of foods. • The death of several loved ones: Parents, fiancé, grandson. • Living through 2 house fires (2nd of which cost me the one grandson). • Having and raising a disabled daughter (20 surgeries in the first 20 years of her life). • Surviving a rape and abusive x-boyfriend and now being able to talk about it. • Giving up everything and moving to another state with $100 in my pocket. • Giving up a steady well-paying job to buy a farm. • Learning and sharing how to really enjoy farm life. • Writing through all of it. These are just samples of all the amazing things I have experienced. I had parents that were amazing! They encouraged all of us to try everything, at least once. Mom tried to get us to enjoy the riches of the world – fine dining (got some great stories on those episodes), how to sit up straight and walk straight to be noticed. She showed us how to walk into a room as if you owned the place. The best thing she taught us was the fine art of storytelling. She grew up with only the radio era folk, so the art of conversation was everything. One regret I have is that I did not keep the letters between her and our Aunt Elaine. They were filled with family happenings and priceless! Dad was a different egg. He and mom seemed like such opposites, but no two opposites were more meant for each other. He was a big, strong, tough man that had been through war times and then something much worse – surviving three daughters! EEEK! Now, looking back, I realize why they both grayed prematurely – we three gremlins. The thing that stands out most in my memory of my father is his compassionate humor. No matter how mad he got at something stupid one of us did, there was always the little twinkle in his eye that told us it was ok. My little sister had him wrapped around her finger – she could do no wrong in his eyes. To best describe him is to let you know that his knick-name for me was “Dumb Shit.” To understand it you may have to watch old Archie Bunker shows – that was my dad. My sisters and I all have some type of talent. The oldest is the wet-noodle. She falls for any stray that comes her way. Then has to feed it and the world (she's an excellent cook by-the-way!) immediately. The youngest is the Artist. She can draw, paint, and/or create so many different things and she too has the passion for cooking. The biggest difference in the two is the first can’t even draw stick people and cooks using shortcuts. The 2nd does everything from scratch – art and cooking. Me, I’m the middle kid. I love to tear things apart and put them back together. I create from scratch – yarn, paint, draw, paper crafts, clay, wood and a number of other things. Cooking is not my passion, I will do it if I have to or if I get an inclination, but it’s not where my heart if. The one big thing we all have in common is our humor. So, my wish here is that as you read my blog (stories), you will find enjoyment in them. What is life if we cannot have a little fun in it?

5 thoughts on “FARM KIDS AND FLYING HAY.”

  1. Sorry this took a while Kal —I pledge my heart to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands for larger service, and my health to better living (4-H’s), for my club, my community, my country and the world…This was done at the start of every meeting (1 day a week year around). It was a place for kids to get together (mostly farm kids, not so much anymore) to select, work on, share, and get help with fair projects. Animals, crafts, sewing, knitting (my very first was a knit project – then a calf for 4 years – into “cow-hoo” hee hee), science, space, history you name it. There are still fairs in the US (Thank God!!) and still 4-H groups (double thank you!!) to work with kids to be better kids – kinda like Boy & Girl Scouts, except they do not separate -boy/girls all together all ages all the way from 5 to 18 years old. After 18 you can enter your specialties (even cooking) into the fair as “open class” – we used to do our veggies till we started selling them. Once you go business you cant do fair – strictly hobby stuff.

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