Randy went to the hay auction this week to buy bait hay to entice our cow-calf herd as we gather them off summer pastures this fall.
I was there to people watch.
We both got what we were looking for.
My favorite people to observe were the kids who arrived at the sale with their daddies ...
... especially the little Amish or Mennonite girls. (It's probably fitting that the photo of this little bare-footed darling was blurred, so she couldn't be identified, even though I was initially disappointed.)
I listened as the two Amish dads shifted seamlessly between English and Pennsylvania Dutch as they visited with one another - one waiting to sell hay and the other waiting to purchase.
Another little curly-haired little girl had her pink cowboy boots on. That seemed a more sensible choice than bare feet to me in the sea of prickly hay.
And I imagined that these two guys treat the hay auction like the coffee shop: "How much rain did you get?" "What do you think of the price of corn?" "What do you think about that heat wave that's coming?"
There were a couple of dogs in attendance who did not leave the auction as best of friends. There was a brief time out from the auctioneer as the dogs yipped at one another.
Who knew there would be such a crowd? There were plaid-shirted farmers. There were cowboy hats and seed company caps. The variety didn't end with the people. There was brome hay. There was alfalfa. There was teff. There were small bales, big square bales and a few big round bales.
Most Tuesdays this summer, the hay auction takes place outside the South Hutchinson sale barn before the sale ring opens for cattle later in the morning.
So why would we need to buy hay when we raise hay? In fact, we grow alfalfa and sudan, both of which we bind up in big round bales and feed to our cattle. Randy was bidding on small square bales of hay to use as "bait hay." (That's an oxymoron, too: The "square" bales are actually rectangular. Hmmm - That's what they're called anyway.)
The small bales come in handy for my role in calling cattle
into the corrals to bring them home from summer pastures or to entice
them to change locations during the winter. It's a little tough to
toss those 1,500-pound big round bales, don't you think? A 60-pound
bale works better. (And let's get real: I'm not tossing the whole bale
myself either. I end up pulling chunks from the bale for enticement
I leave the whole bale tossing to my favorite farmer. He's been doing that since junior high days. Growing alfalfa has always been part of the crop rotation for Randy's family. Back when Randy was a child, they used a sickle mower which laid the hay flat. Then, they would rake the hay. Since they didn't own a baler, a neighbor would bale it into square bales. Then, Randy, his brother and dad would pick up the hay from the field.
|Randy with his hay crop back in high school|