I took this photo yesterday as a hay truck rumbled down a dusty dirt road toward another field. The photo itself is unremarkable. At that time, the skies were overcast, and the photo was shot through a dirty windshield with a cloud of dust stirred up on roads that haven't seen a rain for quite some time. It's not one of those photos that will end up enlarged in 16-by-20-inch format on my living room wall.
But it does represent the end of an era. The hay truck was on its way to one last hay field to collect our final alfalfa harvest. And, for Randy, it signaled the end of a way of life for the past 50-plus years.
In reality, Randy has been working in hay fields much of his life - and, yes, that's longer than 50 years. Even before he was the farmer responsible, he helped as his family put up hay each summer. As is true with most "vintage" farmers, there are plenty of stories in the memory banks about bucking hay bales onto trailers and maneuvering them into hay lofts.
But it was also a hay field where he began his "adult" farming journey. As a high school sophomore, Randy's Great-Uncle Glenn gave him the opportunity to put up hay on his ground. Randy got a share of the hay.
Undated photo, but probably the mid-'90s. Randy with Uncle Glenn during wheat harvest as we harvested his crop.
It was the start
of Randy's own farming journey, independent of his dad. Last June, I wrote a blog post about it. (You can click HERE for the whole blog post.)
Click on these images to enlarge them and read the text written by Randy for the FFA report.
As a senior, Randy won a crop production award in the South Central area of FFA. He still has the plaque on our office wall.
Sometimes, he has trucked the hay himself to various buyers. (You can read about that HERE and HERE.) However, this time a trucker with Sebes Hay out of Larned came to collect the final truckloads of the hay we harvested last summer.
We fed some of the bales last summer, but with the Millers taking over the day-to-day care and feeding of the cattle this winter, we sold 10 loads of hay to Sebes for $150 a ton.
Randy operated the loader tractor as the truck driver gave him hand signals for placing the bales.
The process has always reminded me of a giant Jenga game - but there are more consequences with the pieces falling over when you're talking 1,500-pound bales!
No hay bales tumbled off, however. Thankfully, both of these guys were experienced in the fine art of bale stacking.
This is not the end. We still have our wheat harvest this summer and a farm sale scheduled for August. But there still were a few heartstrings tugged as we completed yet another task and the truck rumbled away.