Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ozark Hay-Hauling

(From Farm Folk at Wikipedia)

I have five brothers, and one summer they never saw me because I was hauling hay all day every day.

A local Salem boy my own age, Tim Harris, had his own truck with a large loading bed and a hay loader that could attach to its side and follow along behind a hay baler and grab bales as quickly as the baler could transform them from loose, windrow hay into heavy, packed square bales, which meant that I didn't have to run alongside the truck tossing the bales up but that I did have to stack a lot more quickly.

Tim was paying me two cents a bale, which wasn't much money, but as he pointed out, I could be making a lot of money per hour if I'd just work really fast. Well ... as my two little kids could inform you, this sort of deal is a bit like that scene in Dexter's Lab where Dexter tells his robots, "Okay, maybe 24 hours a day is too much, so I'll cut your hours in half if you work twice as hard."

So, I knew that deal was a crock, but I liked working with Tim and remember good breaktimes jumping into South Fork River to cool off during the heat of the day or the camaraderie of working in the 10:30 twilight of midsummer's eve to beat the approaching thunderstorm that was threatening to douse the fields and ruin the bales.

Nostalgic memories, I guess, but I don't actually miss the work. Ozark summer temperatures regularly topped 100, with humidity over 90 percent, the field dust got up my nose and into my lungs, loose straw got down my shirt and into my jeans, and the labor left me bone-tired at day's end.

So, no, I don't miss it, but the experience has helped me to keep in perspective the other jobs that I've held ... such as working for Wells Fargo. But that's another story.

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At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeffery, I think you should be submitting material to "Reader's Digest" and other magazines. You're sure to make a small fortune! (The only trouble with RD is that they force you to sign over all your moral rights to your stories; on the other hand, they pay well. An aunt has been writing for them for several years.)

At 2:50 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

But that'd be like selling my babies...

( much are the offering?)

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Canada, I believe it is $1000 (Canadian) per full length article. They also pay (I think) a hundred or so per "funny" paragraph for their "Life's Like That" section (my aunt doesn't write for that section, so I'm not sure). Even if you didn't want to write full length articles for them, I do feel that a number of the ancecdotes you've related could earn you a hundred bucks here, a hundred bucks there.

If I were you, I'd pick up a copy somewhere, see the kind of material that goes into the various sections of the magazine, and then send in material for them to look at.

Your #1 fan,

At 9:34 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I have an idea. You can just send me a hundred bucks from time to time. That way, I won't need to bother with submitting articles...

Good idea, huh?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, my financial situation is rather precarious these days, thanks to my low salary, debt, and a host of medical expenses for my wife and baby.

At 9:11 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Nathan, sorry to hear of the financial woes. Time will take care of those if you plan ahead ... unlike me.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:24 PM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

Writing for "Reader's Digest" would be a far cry less work than hauling hay, huh, Jeffery?

I remember my days as a teenager-who-needed-bucks. The days I spent following a flat-bed around the pasture will always be clear in my mind.

Thanks for your recollections.

At 9:40 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka, yeah, there aren't many jobs worse than hay-hauling in the Ozarks.

Glad that you like my recollections. I must be getting old, to be living in the past like this...

Jeffery Hodges

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