|Father and son work the bale elevator.
|Grandsons and a son-in-law stack hay in the polebarn.
As a child, I helped my mom and grandma prepare "lunches" to take to the field where my dad, grandpa and perhaps an extra neighbor or relative or two were stacking hay on the back of a haywagon trailing a baler that was churning out heavy, oblong bales. A neighbor, Wilbert Regier, drove the tractor in front of the baler which had a jaunty umbrella to give him a bit of relief from the blazing heat. There were other haywagons waiting in the field and when one had been stacked with precision and filled, another one would be hitched behind the baler and the baling would continue.
|Dad hired an Amish gentleman and his equipment to bale his hay this year.
|The bale elevator is a bit finicky, slightly dangerous and can handle only one bale at a time.
|After several years of shortage of help, it was good to have lots of hands this year.
I probably don't have to tell you that the whole process was exhausting, backbreaking work usually in unrelenting heat and often at the mercy of unreliable equipment and inclement weather.
|Cooler temperatures and beautiful days were wonderful gift for this last harvest.
Two constants have been my dad and oblong bales on haywagons.
|The next generation may not get to buck bales.
Over the years he has been assisted by his sons and daughters, his sons-in-law and his grandchildren. On this last hay harvest most of them returned to help. There was also a swarm of great-grandchildren too little to help but enthusiastic in their observations and support.
|The Thursday evening crew surrounds their patriarch.
|Elise, right, learned a thing or two about bucking bales this summer.
We're excited that she is moving to Kansas and will help Dad feed cattle this winter.
All photos by Nancy Belknap