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Tales of a Hay Hauler: ‘Country girls’

Brad Nelson for Progressive Forage Published on 29 September 2016

I sometimes get accused of unduly embellishing a story. When writing a history about my father, an older cousin told me I didn’t have my facts straight. I told her to give me a break; I was only 4 years old when the event in question happened.

My mother was still living at the time, and I asked her about the incident. She told me I was right, and my cousin, almost 10 years older, was wrong. Not a bad memory for something that had happened close to 60 years before.

Now I’ll sit back and see if anyone remembers the following incidents well enough to call them “embellished.”

Every so often there is an event labeled “powder-puff,” as in a normally male activity being tried out by the girls. These can be entertaining, but in the real world there are some ladies you don’t want to get on the wrong side of.

A cattle hauler who was moving cattle from a dairy to an auction, asked the owner of the cattle if he knew what kind of language his sweet young wife was capable of when one of the bovines rebelled.

The dairyman replied to the driver that he would address her with “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am” if he wanted to make it home without a side trip to urgent care.

My own daughter, while at boot camp a few years back, made quite a stir when she outshot most of the guys on the rifle range. When asked about it, she just shrugged and asked them what they expected – since her father had taught her to shoot when she was 6. It got more interesting when they started hand-to-hand combat training.

She asked the group which of them were city boys. When asked why that mattered, she told them she had found the bones of city boys break really easily. They cut her a wide berth the rest of boot camp.

One young lady came with her two younger brothers to pick up some double-compressed hay bales to use for feed for their entries at the county fair. She backed her pickup to the door, and when the bale throwing started she had her own set of hay hooks and was obviously very experienced with them.

One of the guys watching said he had figured out why her younger brothers minded her so well.

Another young lady at high school registration overheard some boys talking about an advanced math class. They said it was too hard for a girl. That made it a challenge for her, and she signed up. Two weeks later, those same boys were asking her for help with the math.

A lady I know locally shared some experiences from her youth. As a teenager, she would drive grain trucks in the field, chasing combines as they harvested dry-land wheat. One day, the rear axle of her truck sank into a washed-out badger hole. It took lots of shovel and tractor work to extricate the truck.

After the excitement died down, one of the guys made some crack about letting a little girl drive a grain truck. The foreman pointed out that tractors and combines had been driving all over the area of the wash-out and had neither seen it nor caved it in. He added that usually when this happens, the truck ends up with a broken axle or spring or twisted frame, and this truck was uninjured.

This same lady went on to say that “hurry up and wait” was often the order of the day, and if the truck had a partial load and the combine broke down, you waited. One day, she was wearing her bathing suit under her work clothes in anticipation of a swim in a farm pond at the end of the day. (It was a very modest swimsuit, she added.)

When a long wait appeared inevitable, and she was where she thought no one would notice, she proceeded to work on her suntan stretched out on the hood of the truck.

From the top of the next rise, she thought she noticed the glint of sunshine being reflected off of binoculars. The next day, one of the young men asked her how her tan was coming. She made a non-committal response and figured out who it was watching her the day before.

The next morning, she was in position with her own binoculars to observe this same fellow having a terrible time climbing to the operator’s station on his combine. Seems that the grab handles and steps into the cab were liberally covered with petroleum jelly.

That afternoon, she told him she noticed him having a hard time mounting his machine that morning. After he cooled down, he asked how she managed it since there were no pickup tracks nor footprints by the combine. She told him she was horseback.

He didn’t believe her, thinking no horse would stand still while its rider leaned so far to the ground and then so high. She replied, “Maybe a horse you trained, but when I train a horse, they stand where I want them to for as long as I want them to.” She added, “We’ll get along better if you leave your binoculars home. Then I won’t have to use mine to watch the payback.”  end mark