Sunday, June 28, 2009


We left Mobridge at 8:00 A.M. CST and arrived at the fields in Timber Lake at 8:00 A.M. MST. What a difference a day makes when it comes to weather in these parts.

We were very hopeful that today would be the day to make headway with the haying. The temperature was around 70 degrees, sun shining and winds calm. The tractor was full of fuel and the mower sickel was lubed.

I stood on the dash board of the truck and watched as Jim started the Ford tractor and started mowing rows of grass. The little blue tractor was running beautifully, but it seemed to me the rake was uneven. The arm was raising and lowering and occasionally Jim had to stop and free accumulations that were caught in the blades. It was slow going and he turned around often, looking over his shoulder to monitor the production, which seemed to me to be low.

Finally, my husband gave me the thumbs down sign and then the broken sign, and he began to drive the equipment back up to bluff. He showed me an area where a pin had come out of a socket and the two sickel blade arms that had malfunctioned. Hay was stuck in the points of the cutters. The socket was too big for the pin. Jim removed the pin and one of the long metal cutting arms, and put it in the back of the truck. We would need a part, but this is Sunday, and the parts house is closed. We loaded up all of our portable stuff into the truck, and decided to head for the Little Morreau Park before heading back to Mobridge. There are bathrooms there and picnic tables and of course shade and water, all of the things we don't yet have on the land.

On the way to the dam, Jim spotted a very large snake in the road. He backed up and ran over it several times, thinking it was a rattle snake. He has never done that before. He has quite a bit of respect for living creatures, but out here, rattlers are dangerous and people try to keep their numbers down. It turned out to be a bull snake, which is not venemous. but the deed was done.

On the way back from the park, we saw our neighbor's tractor in their hay field. I was acutely aware of the difference in their equipment and ours. Theirs was much more high tech, and capable of multi tasking, while ours crippled along cutting unevenly, leaving hay laying flat in it's wake.

The tractor operator was Bob Schumaker's son, John, and he was driving a big enclosed rig, with a large Hydro-swing Mower attached.

A Hydro-swing could be thought of as a glorified swather. Like a swather, it has a sickel with a belt and rollers to put the cut grass in winrows, which eliminates the need for raking. The round baler just goes down the winrows and rolls the hay into huge round bales. Of course even the baler must be super sized to handle this work load.

The Hydro-swing has high tech features that are an improvement over swathers and they include a crimper which breaks up the stems to quicken the drying process. And, in addition, this mower has the enormous hydro-swing arm that swings from one side of the tractor to the other when the farmer comes to the end of a row and reverses direction.

The equipment moved along flawlessly, easily blowing the hay into large rows that were about twenty to thirty feet apart. What an eye opener for me. I can truely see why today's farmers feel compelled to purchase this expensive machinery.

We stopped out in the field at Quinn's place to see Jim's cousin, Frank. The mower is the only piece of equipment that was not purchased. It is an one that Frank doesn't use any more, and had lent to us.

Frank was mowing next to Kenny Quinn's farm. He too had a extra large, enclosed tractor and a huge, high tech hydro-swing mower that was making short work of the large fields of hay.
When I say short work, I don't mean that there wasn't a tremendous amount of work to do.I mean to say that this equipment handles large work loads very efficiently. Non-the-less, even with this excellent equipment, Frank, ever the hard worker, had been in the fields since 6:00 A.M. and had not yet stopped. It was now about 12:00 P.M.

When Frank climbed down from the tractor, it was all he could do to walk. He has been putting off knee surgery. He hobbled over to Jim and the two men talked for awhile before we started off for Mobridge again. Each trip we make out to Timber Lake in the truck costs about $15.00 in fuel, so parts problems cost us dearly.

Since this is Sunday, the parts store is closed, so we won't be able to go there until tomorrow morning. So. for today, Jim's plan is to mow the lawn here at the house, and then we will both go to work in Mother's garden.

It's hard not to feel discouraged at times like this. I don't know if any amount of repairs on Frank's old mower will keep it running in a productive fashion, and I don't know if it is wise to purchase a new mower. As it is, we're hoping to make half of what we paid for equipment back with the sale of the hay this year. We don't really need any more expenses. We also still have the well digging coming up. And that's another frustration. The well digger hasn't even called us back yet. We've heard that he is very busy, but really, he should give us some idea when he'll be out.

I hate to end this blog on a bad note. Hopefully, my next post will be more positive.

Addendum: I called Mother and told her to avoid feeling depressed, we needed to go to work in her garden, That way we'd be doing something constructive in our downtime.
So, we worked there planting bush beans and onion sets. Once again, I was a mud pie in the heat and humidity.When Jim announced that it was beer-thirty and set out to Gigg's shop, Yours Truely went into the house to see Mom and sister, Sherry and her two sons, Daniel and David. They travel from their Arizona home every summer to see mother, and to help her.

Sherry was steam cleaning a very dirty area of the carpet with a distressed look on her face. I am grateful that she is there helping Mother with a lot of very tough jobs, and I love my sister, but I burst out laughing as I saw that expression on her face. I guess I could identifty with her feelings of misery, No one enjoys a stinky job, and I was so glad that she had volunteered to do this one. Try to imagine this, Mary Cat, with a muddy face from sweat and garden dirt, cackling at the sight of Sherry laboring over a dog pee-peed rug, with quite a miserable little turned down mouth, Muahahahaha.

I stayed for hours there, alternately gardening and drinking coffee with Mother on the screened in front porch. It was just like the old days when I was growing up. one of my favorite thing to do has always been to just sit out in the cool breeze of the porch drinking coffee and chatting with my Mum.

By the time I left my mother and the house where I grew up, I was feeling much better.

Now, we're ready to face yet another new day, tomorrow, bright and early.

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