During haying season I drove a team of horses and did all the raking, and once all the stooks were picked up, I reraked it all again. I also drove a team hauling a “slip”… it was like a sled with a sling down the center. The crew would load the hay on it, then throw me up on top, and I’d drive it to the barn or the stack. I would unhook the team from the slip, hook them up to another line, which would haul the load up and over to where it was to land, then I would “trip” the load, hook the team up to the slip once more, and back to the meadow for another load. I was a necessary part of the hay crew and I loved every minute of it!
One summer, working out in the hot sun all day, I ended up with sun stroke and had to stay in the house.
I didn’t feel very good, made even worse because I couldn’t help finish up the haying and share in the great feeling of a job well done and finished.
When I was in the house I helped Lena. She cooked three large meals every day, but even more so with a hay crew working. She had to make their bread, and there was always delicious desserts… like raisin pie with whipped cream….She a made stacks of pancakes every morning. She also grew a large garden to supply their vegetables… that meant weeding and hoeing as well, very time consuming jobs.
One year they had a really big guy… his last name was Anderson.. He ate enough for two people, but as Al said, he did the work of two people. That same year, the other hired guy was “Loyal” something
The hay had been raked, and put into small stacks, Now they were to be loaded onto the slip that I was driving. The two guys were each supposed to put their fork into it, one on each side, and lift it together and add it to the load. Loyal was just about useless… in fact, he made it worse for Anderson to get the job done… He lifted Loyal up and sat him down off to the side and loaded the hay on by himself! Then he picked me up and threw me up on top of the load so I could drive the team to the barn.
I can see both of them, plain as day, but his first name escapes me.
One year when I was reraking the hay…way over from the house… right up against where the bush and trees had taken over…… Well, my team of horses hit a hornet’s nest and they took off running, heading for the barn. I was pulling back on the reins as hard as I could, but no way was I able to stop them. That was one wild ride! Luckily the hornets liked the horses and never bothered coming after me!
We used to go fishing up at the lake behind their place. Al loaded an Evinrude engine on a horse’s back and we hiked up the hill all the way to the lake. I don’t remember if the “Lake” had a name, or not. Anyway, the engine got attached to a raft and the three of us started fishing. If we got one on the hook, Al would speed up the engine, and we more or less drowned the fish! Often, all three of us would have a fish on our hook at the same time. As Al only had one hand, Lena had to pull them in…then we would pull into shore, build a fire and BBQ some fish for our lunch!
I’m jumping around again… please bear with me.
One time Al figured a cow out on the range should have calved. So we went looking for her and found her and the calf, along with twenty or thirty head of cattle on Smith Flats…two miles from home. We couldn’t seem to get the cows headed home… Al was riding a skittish colt. Al got me to get off of King and put a noose around the calf’s neck. I went to get back on my horse and went right over him and landed on the ground on the opposite side of the horse. I sure was embarrassed, and felt very stupid. Anyway, I attached the loose end of the rope to my saddle horn, and Al said ”to take off running,” and drag the calf a short distance and then the cow would follow us home.
I gave King a good kick in the sides and he took off… but as the rope tightened up it almost took me out of the saddle. I managed to stay seated, leaning well over to the left, and the calf bawled. Al then lifted the calf and laid it across my legs, and we headed for home with all the cows trailing behind. As they say, there is more than one way of skinning a cat.
I remember another time when Prince, a beautiful sorrel horse had a fistula (lump) the size of a football on his front shoulder, and Al had to open it up…so before breakfast he said “Come on Norma, you can hold him for me.” It started out just fine, and Prince was tied to the fence…. I was just holding his halter to steady him. Al cut into the lump, gook spurted out… and the ground came up and hit me! And Al had to leave me laying there until he finished what he was doing. That was the first time I ever fainted! I got teased for some time after that.