baling hay

One of my high school buddies was a farm kid from a good old-fashioned Wisconsin family farm. He asked me if I could help him bring in some hay, which means going out to the field on a flatbed trailer towed behind a hay baler, stacking the bales on the trailer as they come off the baler, then taking them back and stacking them in the barn for storage. It’s not hard work but if you forget to bring gloves, which I did once because I’m not a farm kid, the baling twine will cut into your hands until your hands are a blistered, bloody mess. Fortunately I had already learned that lesson the hard way so when I went to my friend’s farm to help out, I took a pair of thick leather gloves. We spent all afternoon in the summer sun stacking and re-stacking hay bales and when we were done, we went back to the house for a home-cooked meal of fresh food washed down with cold whole milk. And if you thought it couldn’t possibly get any more Wisconsin than that you’d be wrong. My buddy’s dad insisted on paying me for my work. He paid me me minimum wage, which at the time was something like two dollars and sixty-five cents an hour, so before we sat down to eat he precisely calculated how much I should get for doing four and a half hours’ work, then paid me the exact amount, rooting through a change purse to get the nickels and dimes he needed.

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