We have had the most exhausting day. That's because today we moved hay.
Now that the barn is finished, it was high time to get those 750 bales of grass hay under cover before the weather turned. We had a thunderstorm on Sunday evening (first rain in over two months) which got just the tops of the bales wet, but yesterday's sunshine dried them again. We knew our luck wouldn't hold forever. Fall is moving into north Idaho, and that hay needed to get protected from the weather.
Before we could stack the hay in the barn, we needed to bring in a couple dump trucks full of 1.5- inch gravel so the barn floor would have drainage. The truck barely fit under the trees.
The driver is making sure branches aren't getting caught in the truck bed.
While Don spread the gravel...
...Older Daughter and I joined some neighbor boys to start hauling hay.
It was an all-hands-on-deck work party. We needed two teams of three for hauling hay: each team needed a driver, a lifter, and a stacker. Here's our teenage work crew (Don and I rounded out the teams), looking rugged.
While the first team started hauling hay, Don and Younger Daughter smoothed out the gravel floor before stacking.
After each haul of hay, of course, we had to stack it.
Gradually the stacks of bales grew. At this point the boys were still rather cocky and cheerful. The day was fresh, the air was cool, and they were earning money.
And believe me, they earned every penny. It was brutally hard work.
Sometimes we saw weird things, like this carcass of a fawn.
But mostly it was just hard work. Yet gradually the stacks of bales grew.
We stopped for a sophisticated lunch of macaroni and cheese...
...and because everyone was working so hard, we made a quick batch of ice cream too.
Then it was back to work. At least the scenery was nice.
Here's Don's crew, across the field from us.
Can you see the barn on the right, with that growing stack of bales under the roof?
More stacking. To reach the upper levels, we made a chain gang, heaving bales from one level to the next.
And gradually the stack of bales grew.
More scenery, more endless rows of bales.
By this point the kids were getting mighty tired.
It took no time at all for the chickens to discover the bales.
...more endless rows of bales.
By this point the kids were getting seriously wiped.
A lot more resting between loads, a lot less cocky exuberance.
When we started at 8 am this morning, we optimistically thought it would take about five hours to move the bales. In fact, it took six people eleven hours. By the end of the day, a quarter of the barn's volume (one-half the floor space) was taken up in bales... and we were almost too tired to admire it.
We paid off our hard-working tired young men and brought them home. All over the American heartland during this time of year, there are similar scenarios unfolding: young people working alongside their elders, bringing in this nation's harvest and training muscles toward honest labor; cultivating food as well as cultivating a work ethic.
We're all tired tonight, but it's the tiredness of a good day's work.
Off to bed.