More Haying Memories
From Pipi's Pasture
Last week I shared memories of those hot summer days when I was a kid and Mom cooked for the hired men who helped with the haying season on our Morapos Ranch. I still have memories to share about those days, and that’s the topic for this week’s column.
First of all, I need to clarify my choice of the words “haying crew” which I now realize might be confused with “threshing crew,” involving many more men. We never had a threshing crew on the ranch. Instead, we had “hired men,” guys who Dad hired in the spring to help out with the spring/summer work, especially haying season. Some of the men were drifters who stayed at the ranch all summer and moved on afterward. We never saw most of them again.
Dad also hired younger men, many on their teens, some from the neighborhood but others from Craig. These young men were learning the ranching skills and some returned summer after summer.
Anyway, as I wrote last week, Dad and the hired men came in from the hot hayfield each day for a big noon meal. Mom was a good cook (known around the community for her cooking talents), and she always fixed plenty of food. I remember how the hired men put away the food — dinner roll after dinner roll, piece of chicken after piece of chicken, and more than one piece of pie or cake. Not only that but before going back to the hayfield they stuffed their pockets with dinner rolls.
Dad just smiled and didn’t say much as he watched the men gobble up the food. He knew how sluggish they would feel upon returning to the field. On top of that, it was hot and they would be filling up with water, too. Imagine how they felt while trying to move hay around on the haystack with the hot sun beating down. To lie down and have a nap was what they wanted most. Dad just ate a moderate meal, planning on eating more that evening. He knew the younger men would learn that lesson, too, though they had a difficult time resisting Mom’s meals, day after day.
Mom usually ate with the men, but there wasn’t very much room at the table so we girls filled up our plates and ate in the kitchen. Early on, we kids learned that the men worked hard so they were served first, and they always got the better pieces of meat. Where chicken was concerned, they got the meatier pieces. We kids and Mom chose the backs, necks, and wings. It was years later before I ever reached for a thigh, drumstick, or breast off a platter of chicken — even after I was married.
Supper was always a lighter meal. We had leftovers from dinner, if there were any, and Mom fixed extra food to go with them if necessary. I don’t remember having sandwiches.
Memories! Aren’t they wonderful?
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