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Tales of a Hay Hauler: ‘Life is uncertain; eat dessert first’

Brad Nelson for Progressive Forage Published on 31 May 2019

“I could have ….”
“I would have ….”
“I should have ….”
“If only I had known ….”

I wonder how much time is wasted bemoaning history that no one can change. Under my picture in the high school senior yearbook is a quote. We were each asked to come up with an individual quip for all posterity.

Mine was, “Why worry? None of us are getting out of this world alive anyway.”

’Tis difficult, it seems, for mankind to stop and consider their own mortality. On that note, some four years ago I wrote and made copies for my immediate family and a few select others, “The Last Discourse.” It was a compilation of experiences and understandings of life that, had I not shared with them, I thought I’d be yelled at on the “other side.”

Things add up and accumulate. Since I started writing Tales of a Hay Hauler in about 1992, the file of “tales” contains close to 300 stories. When I started, my wife told me what I understood to be that she thought, as far as the written word was concerned, I was functionally illiterate. My reprieve from that was when, years later, my youngest son came home from high school and said that Mrs. Neifer, his English teacher, had directed him to get his father to help him with his composition. (The Neifer family raised hay and had been reading my column for some time.)

My directive to my son, after reading some of his writings, was to read it to himself out loud, and if it didn’t sound like he was sitting across the table from a friend he was telling a story to, he needed to work on it some more. I don’t know if I helped or not, but the kid did graduate from high school.

Most any trip in a hay truck to a remote ranch will be interesting – like the first run into Rowland, Nevada, in February. Halfway in the 45 miles of dirt road, a chinook wind came up and melted the road into mud. We were stranded there three days until it froze up enough to allow the trucks to drive out.

People are just as interesting as experiences, so I’ve peppered the “tales” with some who have been mentors to me or others, or who have just made a difference in someone’s life. Oftentimes, there’s just something that needs to be said.

Back to life being uncertain; I wondered what I would have wished I’d shared if it turned out the “tales” article I’d just sent off would be my last one. I’d want to have shared that forgiveness is not for the one who misbehaved but for the one who was wronged. Forgiving will clear the storm clouds and fog from your mind so you can see clearly and accomplish something. Forgiveness does not mean you have to place yourself in a situation where you can be done unto again.

I’d like to have shared that the piece of machinery that has bloodied your knuckles and set your vocabulary improvement program back three decades … was not made by someone smarter than you are.

I would share that computer-controlled things may have the computer assuming the inputs are all OK. For example, a plugged fuel filter can throw malfunction codes that, when logically considered, all point back to not enough fuel pressure or volume to allow the engine to run correctly. The mechanical stuff has to be working, or the computer won’t.

Computer-controlled engines can be wonderful but, if you don’t remember how to cold-start an engine with a mechanical choke, you may be at a loss to figure out what to look for when the newfangled stuff goes gunny-baggers. Makes me wonder if the guys writing the computer codes really have a grasp of how an internal combustion engine works.

I’d want to have shared that absolute personal integrity is essential to success in business, in politics, in life and, most important, in a marriage. In most situations, and especially in a family/marriage situation, think before you speak. Be kind.

I’d want to have shared that the guy who’s looking to buy your stack of hay isn’t going to just look at it. He’s either going to feed it to livestock or deliver it to someone who will. He needs to know everything you know about that stack of hay so he can place it under the noses of livestock who will do well with that quality of hay. Productive cows make for steady, return buyers for your hay.

I’d want to have shared that a dog, a horse, a child, a spouse or an employee will do better at what you need them to do because they want to please you rather than if they’re doing it because they’re afraid of you (much the same as one views his or her relationship with Deity).

I intend to keep hammering out tales and musings as long as you all will have me. Thanks for putting up with me all these years. And since life is uncertain, today I’m having dessert first.  end mark

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