The hay mow for a farm boy brings back an abundance of memories. Now before you all jump to any false conclusions remember I was a good child, raised by Christian parents. I may have changed a wee tad over the years but we are talking about farm memories here not current events.
Today’s round balers have eliminated a tremendous amount of labor on many farms. There are actually farm children today who the concept of a hay mow is as far removed as the thought of black & white television. Although being stationed in a hay mow at the end of a hay elevator on a hot July day is not where one longs to be, stacking square bales on edge, tight enough to suit our Dad. It was a necessary evil to get to your ultimate goal. For Dad the goal of course was plenty of good quality hay stored for the milk cow’s winter sustenance. But for me it was, once the hay mows on both sides of the thresh floor were full hay forts could be constructed. Rope swings that were suspended thirty feet in the air for a large part of the year were now reachable. If you want to live dangerously tie a jerk line to your swing. “Jerk” in this case does not refer to the participants. (I believe “stupid” would be a better word.) A jerk line was simply a rope tied to your rope swing with plenty of slack. As you swung off a beam it at a point in your travel would become tight. Your swing would stop dead and the swinger would react the same way an angry dog reacts when it hits the end of it’s chain. The jerk line trick was usually designed for those city visitors or cousins who wanted to play in the hay mow. For some reason after whiplash and rope burns most only tried it once.
The construction of hay forts was something I loved to do. In fact even into my young adult years I would still build them for first, young children who would visit the farm every summer and then my own children when they arrived on the scene. I probably would still build them if it wasn’t for the aforementioned round balers. A series of tunnels and rooms were constructed of hay bales. I am sure they would have impressed any architect or structural engineer. Not only were these forts tremendous hide and seek refuges, they were great bastions for green crab apple wars. An ancient crab apple tree on the farm always produced thousands of rock hard crab apples. What great weapons they proved to be as from time to time war broke out between two teams of rapscallions one in the north hay mow one in the south. If you have never been hit between the eyes by a green missile thrown by an older cousin, as you peeked out a hole in a hay fort, well
you must have had a boring childhood.
By Auctioneer Vernon Bailey