Pipi’s Pasture: Looking Back
Fall has officially arrived, but before I can get into the season I’m looking back, more specifically to two columns I wrote back in June and July. These two columns focused on the haying season at the Morapos ranch when I was growing up. Since then I received a fat envelope from my cousin David Ottens who lives in Arizona. Although I didn’t identify him in my columns, David was one of the “younger men” my dad had hired to help out with the haying season. As I remember, David helped out at the ranch for a couple of years — or more.
The envelope contained several pages of David’s memories from haying season plus two colored drawings, one of a team of horses and the other a very precise drawing of a stacker in work at a stack-in-process. I am grateful for all of the information; I have forgotten so much.
David remembered that haying in each field began when Dad mowed the hay with a tractor. Then David windrowed the hay using a team of horses and a sulky rake (I had forgotten that we used the horses back then). David used details to explain how he raked up the hay and bunched it for drying. After it was dried the hay was ready for stacking, and David was on top of the stack.
It was as if I were there after reading David’s lively words that described the stacker as it dumped hay on the stack. He wrote that the stacker “creaked and raised” and the cable “sang through the pulleys.” David remembered that the finished stack contained 15 to 20 tons of hay and was “shaped like a loaf of bread to shed moisture and preserve the hay.”
David also remembered how dangerous haying could be. I agree, and I recall one very scary day. The family was together in a field across the creek. David was on top of the stack. Dad was bringing hay to the stacker that was raised with the pickup truck. Mom was the pickup driver. She always had her crocheting with her so she had something to do between loads. I’m not sure what we girls were doing.
I remember that we were pretty much done with the haying season. When the stack was complete, the stacker had to be pulled away from the stack. I can’t recall the exact process, but the stacker was chained upward first and then pulled away with the tractor. Dad was the tractor driver.
The stacker was right over Dad as he started to pull it, and on that day the chain broke and the stacker fell on Dad. We girls started to scream. David’s adrenaline started flowing, and he somehow managed to lift the stacker off dad and get him out from under it. I can remember Dad telling us that everything was OK, but it wasn’t, of course.
Mom and David drove Dad to the hospital in Craig while we stayed with Aunt Edith (David’s mom). I don’t remember the exact extent of Dad’s injuries but I think it was broken ribs. He was laid up for awhile. After the accident area ranchers all checked their chains.
Thanks for the memories, David.
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