29 December 2009

Baling Hay And Moving Day

Baling hay is one of the hardest jobs in the world. If it's not THE hardest, it's gotta be number two or three on the list.
I'm a pretty tough guy... mentally, and, I USED to think, physically. As an example, one of my closest friends owns a big farm on which he has quite a few Bison. He grows much of his own hay to feed these animals. Some years ago he had a hay crop in the ground that was maturing day after day, losing food value. He had volunteers to cut, rake, and bale the hay, but needed help to get the square bales off the ground, onto the wagon, then off the wagon and into the barn. I hadn't baled hay since I was a teenager, but I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. He needed help... I volunteered, with the agreement that I would work at my own pace.

It's always the hottest day of the year when hay baling time comes and this day was no exception... 90+ degrees and about 80% humidity... the kind of day where just standing in the sun makes you break out in a sweat. Uniform of the day was boots, blue jeans, a worn out T-shirt, leather gloves, and sunglasses. My friend's brother-in-law, nearly my age was there. My friend's son had asked a few twenty-something friends to help, but they would be paid for their labor. So there were six of us total... two old farts and four strapping young studs. We could see the youngsters looking at us through the corners of their eyes, snickering.
B.I.L. and I just smiled at one another in expectancy.

We started work when the dew was off the hay... about 9 A.M..
Of course it played out just the way we expected... the younger guys, who had never done anything this physically demanding, started off setting the world on fire. The two old farts walked ahead of the wagon, rested while the wagon came abreast, picked up the 75 pound bale, walked it over to and hoisted it onto the wagon, then walked ahead to the next waiting bale.

The kids were literally racing to and fro, trying to show us up. After an hour, one of them vomited. Wagon piled high, we all jumped aboard for the trip to the barn. When we got to the barn, the young vomiter headed home with his tail between his legs. The rest of the studs had lost their bravado... there was no more snickering at the old farts.

Five of us now set out to do the work of six. We worked until 5 P.M., baling and storing almost 700 bales. I should have weighed before and after... I suspect I lost 10 pounds that day.

I tell that story to compare that kind of work to moving a household. Moving is not quite so intense as baling hay, but depending on weather and time constraints, it's close.
I arrived Phoenix late Saturday night. I was surprised and pleased to see that Big Bubba already had most of his household goods boxed up, ready to go. He also had rented a 28-foot Diesel powered moving van. Tired from having just gotten off work, then suffering through a 9 hour ordeal to get to Phoenix, we both retired to try to get a solid night's sleep.

Sunday morning, Big Bubba's friend Karl showed up to help. We started packing the van at 10 A.M. and with the exception of a break to re-hydrate every hour or so, worked solidly loading all but two mattresses and a few incidentals for 7 hours.
I did more than my fair share. My lower back hurt. My legs hurt. My feet hurt. I haven't worked that hard in YEARS.
We took Karl and his family out to eat, then came back to the empty apartment to sleep on mattresses on the floor. We woke Monday morn, loaded the remaining stuff, and checked the apartment one last time. If the dog in the photo was a miniature Dachshund, the scene looked almost exactly like this:

The van is a BIG truck, bigger than the five ton trucks I drove as an enlisted man in the ARMY. Big Bubba wasn't comfortable with the idea of driving it. I, on the other hand, was fascinated with the challenge of driving a big diesel truck I had never driven, for six hours in heavy traffic to Los Angeles, California. He still had a few loose ends to tie up... turning apartment keys in... saying goodbye to one last friend... so I climbed up into the cab, turned on the key, waited until the "Wait to start" warning light went out, fired that puppy up, and pointed it Westbound.

I got the hang of it pretty quickly. It was so long, you had to wait until you were halfway through a city intersection to start your turn or you'd overrun the curb (or take out a street sign) as the rear wheels shortened the distance catching up with the front wheels. But once on the Interstate highway the only thing I really had to concentrate on was making sure I put my (small and muscular) butt halfway between the center of the lane and the white line on my left so I could be sure the big van was in my designated lane. Use of mirrors, (a big straight one and a smaller concave one on each side), helped me avoid flattening the odd Yugo along the way.

We were on a time limitation.
The office at Big Bubba's new apartment complex closed at 5 P.M., so we had to get there before then to get the keys to his new place. We prayed we wouldn't get stuck in one of L.A.'s notorious traffic jams. My only complaint with driving the big oil-burner was the seat...
Tired as Hell from the previous day, that butt I was trying so carefully to keep lined up with a portion of the road began to ache about 4 hours into the six hour drive.

Big Bubba let Carmen the Garmin guide him in, and we arrived safely at 4:30. Big Bubba's new friend from work Chris met us, and we offloaded the truck until 8 P.M.. (Exhausted, I let the younger guys handle the heaviest stuff.)
There was three bedrooms and two baths worth of stuff on the truck. The new apartment is one bedroom-one bath. When we were done it looked worse than this:

We went out to eat, came back to the apartment, stacked stuff on top of stuff to make room for two queen-sized mattresses on the floor, and zonked.
Desi the Dachshund zonked on the floor with me and didn't stir the entire night.

"Larry the Cable Guy's" cousin showed up at 9 A.M. to hook up Big Bubba's internet connection. We had to unstack/restack stuff to allow him access to the wall he needed to finish the job. But now we are online and I'm glad to be able to relate what's been going on to ya.

A bit of a surprise and a quick question for you-
This is a nice (gated) apartment complex in Santa Ana, California. It comes with a nice dishwasher and gas range, but NO REFRIGERATOR. All of the apartments Big Bubba checked on were the same.
Whassup with that?


Anonymous said...

I've baled hay before and I agree,
HARD Backbreaking WORK! I also hate moving!
Glad you made it safely trip and I assume the Dog did OK.
Take care, John K.

Greybeard said...

Thanks John, and thanks again for the ride to the airport, man!
DesDog did fine, but that is cruel and unusual punishment for an innocent creature and I'm not at all comfortable with it. Denying food and water for all that time? Depending on what new security procedures our "enlightened" government decides to oppress airline travelers with, I suspect we'll not be flying with Desi as carry-on baggage ever again.
Renting a car and driving is looking more and more attractive...
The Islamist's are winning.
Again, welcome to Bizarro world.
Where's the cowboy when you need him?

cj said...

GB -

Haying would be a wonderful form of 'hard time' for prisoners...

God love you for pitching in like you do. I'm sure your son appreciates it immensely!

Now, I hope you get to relax for New Years!


Steve Skinner said...

Gotta love those young guys; they need to remember that slow and steady will always win the race!