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Tales of a hay hauler: Lost art

Brad Nelson for Progressive Forage Published on 29 May 2022

Couple or three years back, I needed a small, cheap heater for the shop. Just to take the edge of cold off in one spot. Shopping in the heaters section of Wally World, I’d made my selection and was about to take it and leave when …

A fellow I’m guessing was in his mid-80s spoke to me. He wanted to make sure I understood that the heater I had selected could draw as much as 15 amps, which was the capacity of most residential wiring. He was concerned I might plug it in and have it, plus whatever else was on that circuit, cause an overload, and the resulting heat could cause a fire.

I told him it was for my shop, just for occasional use, and I was aware of the dangers of overloading electrical circuits. He then mentioned he was a retired electrician and had seen many upsets by overloading circuits. As he turned to leave, he said, “Thank you for listening to me.” I thanked him for caring.

Pondering that meeting, I wondered how many times he’d been greeted with a “Buzz off, old man. I know what I’m doing here,” when he tried to save someone some grief. At the time, I was just getting used to being a septuagenarian (70-year-old) myself.

My dad grew up farming with horses. I remember his last team, Kate and Brownie. Dad would let me ride on Kate as he directed them on the task at hand. When I asked to ride on Brownie, Dad said Brownie didn’t understand having a rider and would make a fuss, while Kate didn’t mind having a kid aboard. I remember watching as the team was hauled away, replaced totally at last by tractors.

We later had a saddle horse around a couple of times, and Dad showed me how to trim a horse’s hooves for shoeing. It’s been over 60 years, but I could still show someone how to passably trim a horse’s hoof. To my knowledge, my kids and grandkids have never been around a horse, so my understanding of the care and trimming of hooves is most likely one thing I’ll take with me to the grave.

Some time back, one of the grandsons called. He had a job where he needed his own tools and was short of what he needed. I had stated before that I probably had duplicates of most tools, and to ask before anyone spent money for tools.

With his list in hand, I dug through and came up with most of what he was lacking from “duplicates” on hand. Being a grandpa, I bought a couple of items I didn’t have two of that would be a life-saver for him. One was a “wobbly” socket. It’s for those places you can’t get a straight shot at a nut or bolt with regular sockets. It lets you tighten or loosen from an angle.

When I handed off the tools, I placed the wobbly in his hand and said,

“Don’t lose this. You’ll think it’s a life-saver one day.”

I explained its use.

He’s now working as a trainee at a dealership. The other day, he sent me a text with a picture of his wobbly in use. He said, “Tightening some cables in a really awkward spot. I went and grabbed this out of my toolbox and just about blew my trainer’s mind.”

Someone had listened to me. And I’m still running into things new to me.

The Dodge Durango that’s my wife’s snow-days ride misbehaved for her. She called and said it wouldn’t start. I drove in. It was acting like a low voltage or sick starter issue. I trailered it home.

Note: If you go to load a vehicle on a trailer that doesn’t have a winch and the rig won’t drive on, take two come-alongs instead of one. Then when you run out of cable or chain and have to stop and get a new bite, instead of blocking the vehicle on the ramp and loosening the chains, you just keep pulling with the other come-along.

By eleven that night, I was home.

With a fresh charge on the battery, it was obvious I’d fried the starter. The problem was that the air conditioner compressor and its clutch had frozen up and the serpentine belt was robust and sticky enough to overpower the starter. I still see something new every day.

I will “Google” stuff on occasion. Oftentimes I spend an hour to find that Google doesn’t know. If I’m asked a question I don’t know the answer to, I’ll say “I don’t know.”

How much knowledge, understanding and experience-acquired wisdom is lost with the passing of a member of a previous generation?  end mark