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A fishing trip during ‘haying’ season

By: ROGER WILLIAMS

We received disturbing news early on a summer morning. Some hay we had baled and stored was at risk of spoiling.

It had been put in the barn just last week after a series of rain showers delayed the baling process. A neighbor sent word that he had found two bales steaming and smoking in his storage area today.

We had share cropped some of this questionable hay and several bales of it was now stored in granny’s barn. Upon further investigation he discovered the bales were showing signs of internal combustion. The hay must have been baled before the grass was completely dry and a form of fermentation was causing the hay to decompose rapidly. This could possibly generate enough heat to cause it to catch fire.

We found that the hay we had stored in granny’s barn was also affected by the hay spoiling in some of the bales we checked. Several bales were carried from the barn and busted open and scattered on the ground to allow it to further dry. It could then be placed in a haystack to preserve it for feed this winter.

We had several stacks of hay protected from the livestock by fences around the farm. We usually had enough loose hay to pick up a wagonload or two from areas of the farm not suitable for baling. These stacks were built from the ground up by layering hay around a hay pole. This hay was cut, dried, loaded on a hay wagon by pitchfork and off loaded at the haystack.

Once the hay was layered around the center pole we added another layer and another till all the hay was stacked. The top of the stack was smoothed and rounded so that rain would run off. We were frequently cautioned not to climb on the stacks so as not to disturb the integrity of the pile of hay.

I remember when you put your arm in a questionable bale it felt hot on the inside. The hay had to dry completely in the sun again to save it for feed. We all pitched in and got the hay safely spread out to dry in the hot summer sun.

My cousins and I convinced my uncle to take us fishing after our chores were completed. He agreed, if we got all the hay spread out and ready to be stacked, we would go fishing since we had caught all this bait.

Our fishing trip took us to the New River at a special place we called “the neck.” It was only a mile or so down the road from the farm in Delton. We captured nightcrawlers the previous night, with a quick hand and a weak light from our flashlights. Minnows were netted from the farm creeks and stored in the stream waters in minnow buckets. We caught crayfish from the shallows, again with quick hands and a can to keep them wet and cool till time for us to go.

We got a late start to our trip to the neck. Thankfully, the crappie were biting and it did not take us long to catch a mess of these tasty slabs for a family meal.

Hunting seasons begin to open this month. Check the regulations and get your gear together. It will be here before you know it.

 

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