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Tales of a Hay Hauler: Trust

Brad Nelson for Progressive Forage Published on 31 December 2021

Ah yes! A new year. And the cynic would say, “Can’t wait for someone to make a mess of this year, too.”

How is it that with (so they say) over half of marriages ending in divorce, among us are couples just as happy as if they’d had good sense who have been married 50 years and longer? Stephen R. Covey, in his classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, shared this experience:

He was headlining a business conference, and the topic of trust had been discussed. A fellow came up to him and said that when he was away at a conference, his wife was asking questions about what he was doing so she could check up on him. Not just “What did you have for dinner?” but “Who did you have dinner with?” She wanted names.

After gleaning background info, Covey asked, “How long have you been married, and how did you meet?”

Looking uncomfortable now, he answered, “We’ve been married about five years. I met her at a conference similar to this one – when I was married to someone else.” Ah ha! So there was a very good reason the lady wanted names of those providing a possible “alibi.” He had his answer.

A dairyman had been so low on hay his supplier had to split a load among three dairies due to road closures one winter. The truck pulled in, and enough baled hay was rolled off to feed his cows a few more days until the hauler could bring a full load. They verified the bale count; the hauler said they’d settle up when he brought the full load.

When the full load arrived, the dairyman asked the hauler how long he’d known “so-and-so.” Hauler said he didn’t recognize the name.

“That’s odd,” said the dairyman. “He lives just across the street. He told me I’d never have to worry about dealing with you, that you were as honest as the day is long.”

This is the other end of the trust pendulum. Reputations spread. Bad ones faster than good, but good reputations do spread. It can take a long time to build a good reputation. One fellow mentioned that he’d been hauling hay for over two years before he could sell a load of hay over the phone. Before that, it had always been, “Bring a sample bale over, and I’ll look at it.”

A local feedlot buys lots of hay but does not have a scale adequate to weigh hay trucks. Unfortunately, he’s been burned enough times he will not accept a “keyed-in” tare weight on a scale ticket when paying for the hay. The operator of a nearby scale shared this with him. “Trucker XXX weighed a load on the way to you. He asked me to just key in his tare weight. I told him you would not accept a scale ticket with a keyed-in tare [empty] weight. It’s interesting that the weight he asked me to key in was over a ton less than what his rig actually weighed when he crossed the scale empty.”

The feedlot operator said the trucker in question was one of the reasons he had gone to the policy of never accepting a keyed-in tare weight.

Both of these hay haulers had lived up to their reputations.

A good old dog, as his owner told the story, just couldn’t leave porcupines alone. About the third encounter, the punctured pooch would come to his owner, head down, whining softly. He’d get the needle-nosed pliers and sit down. The dog would come and grudgingly lay his head in his owner’s lap while he pulled out the quills. Trust. The pooch knew this was not going to be pleasant, but was necessary to get rid of the quills.

It’s been over a year now that my house dogs alerted us to a commotion outside. There, the neighbor’s huge dog was nosing a tiny kitten toward our door. Looked like she’d survived being tossed into the swamp. Hungry, meowing loudly and missing lots of hair (that the vet said was caused by ringworm). We got her fed and warmed up and doctored.

Noticed that when she walked, she acted like she was trying to shake something off her feet. I examined her toes and found the hair between was caked and crudded – probably felt to her that something was stuck between her toes. I gently loosened and pulled free the offending crud. Now she walked normal, if anything a cat does is “normal.”

Trust. I asked my wife of now over 53 years if she trusted me.

“Yes. Unless you’ve got that one particular smile on your face, then it’s still … ‘Get away from me. You’re up to something.’” Trust! Ah yes! A new year. And the cynic would say, “Can’t wait for someone to make a mess of this year, too.”  end mark