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Tales of a Hay Hauler: Compromise

Brad Nelson for Progressive Forage Grower Published on 27 January 2016

Groundhog Day is the event on Feb. 2 of each year when, supposedly, the groundhog comes out of his burrow, looks around, and if there is enough sunlight for him to see his shadow, we are to expect six more weeks of winter weather.

Should it be cloudy, winter should – by the tradition – end prior to six weeks. No one ever said how much prior to six weeks.

The big plus at the beginning of wintertime is: It’s the first time the temperature drops low enough to kill most of the flies. The lawn quits growing, so the lawn mower can be parked for the season.

The weather is a necessary compromise. We must have periods of rain and snow to water the crops. We must have some sunny days to harvest and dry the crops. Weather follows no set calendar. Sometimes the spring rains in eastern Washington end in early May. Sometimes they persist through the end of June, wreaking havoc for hay growers.

Many things in life end up being compromises. Consider the fresh veggies the sandwich store has year-round. For what they do, they have to have a suitable quality of lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables all year. They also need a known cost that is stable through the year, lest they have to change sandwich prices weekly.

That means that, at certain times of the year, they could buy tomatoes locally for a fraction of what they pay their supplier. But local tomatoes are not available all year, so the only way that business works is by averaging the cost to ensure stability.

Parts of our society are like the need for a stable supply of fresh veggies year-round. To maintain this stability, some things appear to be blatant waste and excess – and perhaps they are.

Some things, an individual can do for himself. For other things, he needs to team with his neighbors. For instance, hay growers in Mountain Home, Idaho, do well clearing snow from the county road to and around their haystacks. When the freeway system was complete, that Mountain Home hay could be available to dairymen around Portland, Oregon, in less than 10 hours after it was loaded.

Neither the hay grower nor the dairyman can build and maintain that length of highway. It became a team effort, a vision the Eisenhower administration had for high-speed roads connecting the whole country. I think most of society can see that this highway system has been a must for the welfare of the nation.

Our country is in an uproar right now. As we go about electing our next president, I fear both sides of the political spectrum are out of line. Compromise must be found if our nation is to survive. Neither the socialists nor the libertarians will be gung-ho over the end result.

There will always be projects that require teamwork. There will always be those among us who, for whatever reason, need help feeding and clothing their families. I think most of us understand that.

Most of us are also upset when we witness a family paying for groceries with food stamps, followed by alcohol and tobacco products that are paid for with cash, and then they drive away – an able-bodied male and a young mother and a number of children – in a vehicle we cannot afford.

I’ve seen a fellow corralling shopping carts at one of the Walmart stores in my region. He walks with an unusual gait, has a misshapen face and is missing several teeth. He’s there most days – rain, snow or sunshine – returning the carts to the store. My attempts to greet him or compliment him on his work have been ignored.

I have great respect for this man and for those who employ him. If a person like this needs help with living expenses, I’m all for giving him a boost in the spirit of teamwork. He is doing all he is capable of doing for himself.

One of the most misquoted men in American history was Brigham Young. One thing I think he really did say was a question he asked. In the middle of a heated discussion about helping some destitute families, some were concerned that the fathers of those families were doing little for their support.

Brigham Young allegedly asked, “So, because the old tomcat may come and get a little, do we refuse to feed the kittens?” There will always be some adept at scamming the system, and there will always be those who honestly need more help.

As our nation seeks to find a working compromise, the Brigham Young quote above and the example of the shopping cart technician need to be in the equation. I fear we have people among us who have lost hope. No one wants to be fed. Those with no hope need someone to show them how to qualify themselves for a job doing something they can take pride in that will allow them to feed themselves.  FG

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