Word from the Range-Summer Work

Word from the Range-Summer Work

By Lyn Messersmith

I’m the one in charge of mowing around here. We decided a long time ago that Bruce would handle canning and I’d do the outdoor yard stuff. That suits us both, but of course when the mower breaks down or needs service he gets involved, and I end up washing jars or peeling apples for him. We have an equal opportunity workplace.

Mowing is no small job, especially this year when the moisture has grasses growing tall and thick. It takes about 4 and a half hours, which means I get to be outdoors half a day and don’t need to hear the phone ringing off the hook with pitches for people of a certain age.

One of the things I enjoy most about the job is the smell of different kinds of grasses. I was under the mower the other day, pulling at a tangle of tall, damp grass, when Bruce walked over to help.

“Just digging out the baler,” I said.

I miss the hayfield. Yes, a bunch of you are shaking your heads and calling me crazy, but I always enjoyed haying, even when sweet clover balled up in the baler and had to be cut out with a pocket knife. I liked the cool morning chore of greasing my rake, figuring out a pattern of raking that would make the baler man not yell at me, looking back at the end of the day at a meadow dotted with fresh bales that gleamed in the long light, and getting to quit a little early to get in the milk cows and do chores before getting supper. The pay back for me doing chores was that, on a rainy day, someone else in the crew had to hoe the garden. We had a young man quit one summer over that. He said he was hired to stack hay, not sharpen sickles or do garden chores and he was by gum going to nap in the bunkhouse until the sun came out again. I gave him a ride to town on my way to get shear bolts.

Going after parts was the downside. The guys at the shop always managed to ask a question I couldn’t answer. “Fine thread? Male or female end?” or some such detail that no one bothered to tell me. I finally laid down the law. “I’ll make the parts run, but you have to call it in and talk to the counter person.”

These days my hayfield is the yard and outlying areas around the barn and outbuildings. There have been plenty of rainy days this summer when I couldn’t mow, and the grass got taller and tougher, but that’s ok. I no longer have to make a parts run and there’s no baler man to holler at me.

Meet me here next week, and meanwhile do your best not to holler. Somebody might like it.