Substacking the hay bales

Who is that masked man? Photo by Hal Walter.

My man Hal Walter is getting into the groove with his Substack newsletter.

If you haven’t subscribed yet, have a peek at the archives, and give it some thought.

His latest is about wearing the mask, something he was doing long before The Bug® came calling. When he’s not writing, editing, or wrangling his teenage son, Hal runs a jackass ranch, which means moving large quantities of hay around and about. Seems it helps to have something covering your face-holes to keep them from clogging up tighter than a bull’s butt in fly time.

In fact, everything I know about masks I have learned from hay. I’ve gotta figure over the years I’ve moved more than a quarter-million tons of the stuff by hand, and have eaten my share of dust, mold, pollen, fungi, actual grass and alfalfa, and no doubt been exposed to salmonella, tularemia and hantavirus in the process. At some point I started wearing a bandana, and then along came the face/neck gaiters. I’ve not moved any serious amount of hay without one since.

I mostly move serious amounts of words, which is easier on the snotlocker, and the lower back, too. Although I’ve thought on occasion while penning something particularly outrageous that wearing a catcher’s mask might be smart.

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20 Responses to “Substacking the hay bales”

  1. Pat O’Brien Says:

    As Hal says, it’s common sense when handling hay or hoisting tobacco on sticks up into the barn, which I did once, to pull up that bandanna over your nose. When the CDC tells you to sneeze into your sleeve, is wearing a mask, bandanna, or some other cloth over your nose a genius idea.? Even I figured that out when I saw my smarter half sewing some up for us.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Fo’ true. I started wearing a dust mask for mowing the lawn, after we moved here and had a lawn that took more than 30 seconds to mow.

      I have to do something about that expanse of greenery. The Rio is turning into a dribble and I’m watering a lawn?

      • Pat O’Brien Says:

        Well, don’t get an estimate for artificial turf. The sticker shock will require a 911 call to get your heart started back up.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I’m thinking a mess of big rocks, medium-size rocks, and small rocks, plus maybe some sand. Don’t gotta water no rocks.

      • Herb from Michigan Says:

        ?? Don’t stones and rocks hold the heat and with temps breaking records lately isn’t there another landscape option? Short of erecting a giant solar panel to cover your property and shade it at the same time. Hmmm….

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          The grass, and the watering thereof, definitely help keep cool the southeast side of the house. Also the pines by the arroyo wall and a big-ass maple by the picture window. A blend of stone and native vegetation might be preferable to a simple rock garden, though with the right rock garden I could hone my mad skillz on the mountain bike without leaving home.

          • Shawn Says:

            During the day all of my yard rocks are white side up. This way a lot of the heat is reflected. In the late afternoon when the sun is beginning to set I put on my overalls and work gloves and rush out to turn them all over so the black side is up for the night and the heat that they absorbed is emitted to the delta-s of space. I then get up in the morning and when the sun is at an angle that it is peaking over the ridgeline of the Jackson Pollock designed home next door, I turn the rocks back over so that the white side is up.

            Gee, does anybody smell the manure that is floating around? and the potentially inferred racism…, black, white oh my! Not to mention Jackson Pollock. I think he was a stoner.

            But reality aside, I took off on a 0-dark thirty ride last evening (early this morning). The boss was tucked safely away in bed, the snow was 4″ to 5″ deep and untrammeled, and all the other folks were warm in their homes snoozing away. Great fun was had along the river path. My Lumina 1000 was illuminating the spray of dry snow from my tires as it was ejected forward after it had circled around on my rims and was being split my my canti-brake pads. On my return route my pathway was a single tire line with an alternating divot every hundred inches or so. It was cool.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    I was up at my first wife’s uncle’s big dairy farm in the NW Adirondacks quite a few times Back in the Day. I recall on one instance it was haying season and we baled all day and then loaded silage into the wee hours. I came in coughing, wheezing, asthmatic, and a total mess from breathing dust. Think I coulda filled up a bucket with phlegm that night. Many years later I found out that Uncle Bill could no longer work: Chronic Farmer’s Lung.

    More recently, I left work after a few meetings where I was wearing a K-95. Took it off halfway to the car and immediately smelled the nearby fire. Nice filtration, that mask.

    So I get it.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      My sole experience with agricultural work involved detasseling corn in Iowa Falls, Iowa, back in 1972. Didn’t make it through a full shift; got fired for smoking a joint at lunch. And glad I was of it, too. That shit was hard.

      • B Lester Says:

        Yup. Detasseling is a standard 16 yo occupation round hereabouts. Don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone doing it two summers in a row.

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          I was 18, and hitchhiking back to Colorado from Springfield, Missouri (I was taking the scenic route, visiting a college roomie along the way).

          I had three jobs in quick succession before moving on, back to Colorado: detasseling corn; helping to clean and move a line of printing presses so another unit could be installed; and house painting in an Iowa summer. Detasseling corn won the “this sucks” competition for 1972.

  3. Dave Watts Says:

    I’ve been wearing a mask now for, what will be in a few weeks, one full year, 8 hours a day times 5 days a week plus a few extra hours doing errands and such. Beacuse… work. And I don’t want to add that up for a total, since it seems we’ll be doing the same for at least another full year — or so I’m told.

    A some point, I might not remember when I wasn’t masked. I wonder what that will be like? Finally got an appointment for the needle in another week, and again in 3 more weeks. The catch is it will be a 3 hour round trip each appointment since there seems to not be enough doses within a couple of counties to do it locally for maybe a month or more. Whatever. I haven’t driven anywhere far away for the past year. Might even be fun.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’ve been lucky. Didn’t have to get used to working from home (been doing it for 30 years). Only have to mask up when I leave home, which is mostly never (grocery shopping every 10 days or so).

      We’re short of vaccine here in New Mexico, but we’ll get there eventually, I guess. Herself the Elder has already had both of her shots and came through with flying colors.

      I would dearly love to get the hell out of Dodge, eat a meal in some other state. I have absolutely no idea when that could happen. But I need a road trip the way Lindsey Graham needs a punch to the nutsack.

      • Pat O’Brien Says:

        Wouldn’t hurt ole Lindsey at all. Sack be empty. Yes your honor, it’s true, this man has no balls.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I let out a war whoop the other day when Fanta Se County went from red to yellow. Not that I am about to run down to The Shed and sit with a bunch of people I don’t know from Adam. Just that we are getting a little better at dealing with The Bug.

        And boy, a margarita and enchilada plate at The Shed sure does sound good.

    • JD Says:

      Looking on the bright side, I now can actually recognize people in masks …. by name … and by their willingness to contribute to “the greater good”. Human “facial recognition software”!!
      I’m also thinking that maybe pro sports coaches will always wear them now so as not to have to pull their game plans up in front of their faces so their signals can’t be stolen. Think of the marketing/logo opportunities!!! $$$$$ 🙂

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