Making Hay While the Sun Shines


Literally. That’s what I have been doing for the past two days.

The heat is record-breaking. The hay should cure quickly. I doubt any bales will mold from too much moisture or ignite from spontaneous combustion, a problem that comes from too much moisture in tightly compacted grass.

On the tractor, I enjoy watching a crow as it flies back and forth over the newly cut rows. It is in search of an easy meal. I note the bedding spot of fawns, hidden in the tall grass.  And I marvel at how thick the grass is this year compared to last year.

All idyllic sights and thoughts.

That is, until the muffler falls off the tractor. The muffler exhausts through the cover over the engine on the topside of the tractor. When the engine runs, the exhaust pipe with muffler gets HOT. It can be hot enough to ignite dry grass.

The freshly cut grass is moist. I am wondering whether the fallen muffler presents a fire hazard.

I have no work gloves with me, since my chore of mowing wasn’t supposed to include mechanical malfunctions. I look in the small storage box under the tractor seat and find two greasy rags.

As a girl, I hate grease, especially on me. But I can’t leave the pipe and muffler where it has fallen in the field, so I use the greasy rags to pick it up and carry it to a shaded dirt patch at the edge of the field. On a dirt patch, there is nothing to ignite.

That task done, I get back to work. Round and round I go. The sound is now deafening without a muffler. My ears are ringing. Salt droplets are running down my face and into my eyes. Dust kicked up from the cutting is irritating my eyes. My neck, which I tried to protect with upturned collar, sunscreen and a brimmed hat, feels like it is burning in the sun. I’m parched.

I have three swaths to go.

I should finish before traffic picks up on our road from workers who are homebound at the end of their day. Since the tractor and equipment take up both lanes of the road, I want to have the road to myself when I move between home and the field.

Sputter. Cough.  Silence. The tractor dies. It won’t restart.

I cut the ignition off, climb down and walk home. There is a heat advisory. I am dressed in a hat, long-sleeved shirt, long pants and boots — in case I have to get off the tractor in the long grass. I want to fend off ticks, bees and snakes, as well as the brutal sun. I never anticipate hiking in this garb.

Isn’t this a perfect illustration of the writer’s life? We make preparations and start out on a project, thinking it will go one way. Then surprises pop up, affecting the plan. One never knows which direction the detours will take.

One can cry about it or adjust.

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2 responses »

    • The end of the story is the crop was lost for horse hay because the baler was not repaired before a deluge soaked the hay in the field. Better luck next time.

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