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The Manure Spreader: Summer vacation

Tim Moffett for Progressive Dairy Published on 06 August 2019

I’m not gonna lie. As a farm kid, I dreaded when school was out for the summer. Ahh, when school gets out for the summer to a farmer’s kid, what does it mean? Three times the work and no money. I failed algebra three times on purpose just so I could stay in summer school.

At least it was inside and out of the rain. You think algebra was hard? Try sorting calves in 3-foot-deep mud while wearing rubber boots four sizes too big because that’s the pair you were “gifted” with. It never fails: Once one boot got sucked off in the mud, it wasn’t long before the other one disappeared to China. Next thing I know, I’m sorting calves in my socks. If you’ve never had a 300-pound calf with sharp hooves stop and turn on a dime while he is standing on your big toe, then you probably don’t know that socks don’t help.

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And baling hay. I’ve never met the man who invented the round-roll hay baler, but that man should win the Nobel Prize. If you’re Amish and still rake your hay by hand, then you, my friend, should have a Dutch Birch Beer float on me. The rest of us growing up got to spend our summers picking up small square bales and stack them on trailers. Sounds easy, I know. Let me explain how easy this task was.

First off, the old phrase “make hay while the sun is shining.” What that means is the temperature outside has to be at least 107 degrees with 200% humidity before you can go pick these bales up by hand. And a special note, if you lived in the South: Bales weren’t ready to pick up until all the fire ants had successfully made their new homes in every bale. Secondly, I don’t know how heavy these bales were, but they were heavy enough adults couldn’t actually pick the bales up themselves. Adults had to be in the truck pulling the trailer. That way, they could yell at you for not picking up the bales fast enough or not stacking the bales on the trailer correctly. If you didn’t stack the bales straight on the trailer, no worries. We all got a second chance when it was time to stack the bales again in the barn. And that, my friends, is why I hate hay rides.

Trust me, no one is happier for school to start up again in fall than farm kids. Except maybe their parents because they’ve been working hard all summer because of the “free labor” for a couple months. So, enjoy the rest of the summer, ya’ll. And don’t worry kids, vacation … I mean school will start again in no time.

And kids, I’m in no way advocating for you to fail algebra. You’ll never use it, it has nothing to do with balancing your bank account or estimating your taxes or even figuring how much tip to leave a waitress, but you do need to know it just in case you ever try to figure out why the doctor’s office weigh scale is so much higher than the one in your bathroom.  end mark

Some of you need some laughs at your upcoming winter meetings. Check Tim out at Tim the Dairy Farmer.

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