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Tales of a Hay Hauler: The ABCs of Thanksgiving

Brad Nelson for Progressive Forage Published on 14 November 2016

On the off-chance you have a power failure or internet outage at Thanksgiving, try this: Gather the group and play Thanksgiving ABCs.

The first person will mention something he or she is thankful for that starts with the letter “A,” and then on around the group, with everyone taking an alphabet letter in turn until the alphabet is exhausted at least once. Here are some of mine.

Alfalfa. I remember the animal nutrition class when the professor stated that all classes of livestock just do better if they have at least 5 percent of their total ration as alfalfa.

Boys. Boys become men, and while still boys, us over-the-hill guys have a chance to add our input toward the future by teaching boys how things work, how to work and how to be men. A father from centuries ago admonished his sons to “Rise up from the dust and be men.”

Constitution. The Constitution is that now-under-fire document that protects our rights as free men. Remember that the Constitution does not give us our rights as free men, it protects them. It states that the rights of freedom are God-given.

Remember that whoever gets into the White House, it is the Constitution that protects us from the government and preserves our rights and freedoms. Also chili. I love chili. It’s better if I get to enhance it.

Daughters. As a septuagenarian, both my daughters still call me “Daddy,” and I love it. And dogs. Are all dogs underfoot or just mine?

Elli. Met her when she was 18 – and chased after her until she caught me. Now it’s over 48 years of heaven-on-earth. Somebody, please give this amazing lady a medal for putting up with me and my antics for so long.

Fathers. The fathers of our nation and my father. The father of my son-in-law. Strong societies have a high percentage of fathers in the home. Strong families are the foundation of strong nations. Also fear. There should be someone in the life of every young lady that the rest of the world fears will harm them if she is harmed in any way.

Grass. Cows eat grass, and I eat cows. Otherwise, I’d have to eat grass.

Hope. Seeking to uplift a distraught person, I reminded them that no matter how dark the night had been, I had yet to witness a morning where the sun failed to rise and drive away the darkness.

Integrity. I learned many years ago that if a man’s wife could not trust him, I was wise to also never trust him.

Jason. He and his brother lived with us for many moons. He and my son Dan came and built a simple shop building for me a few years back. They felt it was a payback, and I was grateful to receive it – more grateful that they appreciated me.

Kissing. Better yet, being kissed. By Elli.

Leo. Leo Ritthaler, my truckin’ and hay-haulin’ buddy from back in the good old days of cab-over trucks and 265 air conditioning.

Mint. Helped a fellow harvest mint one summer during my college years. I still slow down and open the window when passing a mint field being harvested.

Nature. To me, all of nature confirms there is a God in the heavens above us.

Opportunities. Often overlooked because there is “some assembly required,” and work clothes and effort are required.

Persistence. “If it doesn’t work, we’ll work on it until it does work.” Thankful to have the persistence to keep going because it’s not often that plan “A” works.

Quirks. It’s what makes people interesting.


Sleep. And snow. Except for the time I went to sleep in a loaded hay truck under clear skies and woke up to a foot of snow on top of my un-tarped load. Also strawberries. I love strawberries.

Trucks. And other toys.

Understanding. For example, some of the natives from other countries I have worked with expressed that in their homeland, they do better if stopped by bandits than by the police. This explains their reluctance to call for or help the local sheriff and police.

Volunteers. Without volunteers, most of the land mass of the country would have no fire departments or ambulances.

Wisdom. I once teased Elli about not being smart enough to have wisdom teeth. She reminded me about that each time when three of mine caused me major grief.

X – This is a hard one. All the really good “X” words have an “E” in front of them – like excellence. Also as in “extra” money. I’ve never seen any of that.

You. Thankful for the care and concern of those around me.

Zip. I’m thankful to still have some “zip,” even though my 70-year-old body is usually screaming at my 35-year-old eyes for making the appointments my body has issues keeping.

You’ll be happier with life if you record what you’re grateful for than if you maintain a list of things to bellyache about. end mark