When does the Back trump Community?

June 1, 2010

Our neighbor came by late Saturday afternoon with his bale wagon and picked up the last of hay in the field. Timing worked out well.  Rain returned Sunday morning after a few days of wind and partial sun.  We’ll now list the hay in the stack on Craigslist as feeder hay.  The first inch or so of the bales weathered edge have mostly dried out, but remain damp enough not to have them graded (as far as we’re concerned) better than feeder quality.  Dropping the quality of a bale isn’t easy because most of the bale is good hay.  Yet, we figure the bottom line is, some animals do not do well picking around that one to ten percent that is not helpful to their health.

Earlier Saturday afternoon, before our neighbor came, Belinda and I went through the field and loaded the hay bales we thought would be troublesome for the bale wagon, onto our flatbed trailer.  Until last year, this work was typical.  Someone drives the tractor while others walk along and load hay.  Sometimes just family loaded hay and sometimes friends and neighbors came by and helped.  Now though, Belinda and I load the troublesome bales and our neighbor does the rest.

There is an upside and a downside to loading by mechanical means.  An upside, the back feels much better the next morning!  Hanging out with our neighbor for a while is also an upside.  The downside is we no longer have a bunch of neighbors show up all at once.  There is a sadness to this, because when everyone showed up it meant folk became community through working and then eating together after the hay was put up.  There is also a loss because new stories are not begun and old stories are not told.

Does the upside outweigh the downside?  Truthfully, sometimes it does and sometimes it does not.  What I believe is also true, is if we are to keep using a bale wagon, we need to find another way to keep connected and to build community, with old friends, new friends, and neighbors alike.

© David B. Bell 2010

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