In case it has escaped anyone’s notice, it’s summer time. When I was a kid, that meant hours of driving a tractor in full sun, for hours at a time. As you can imagine, it was not the highlight of my summer. There is one particular instance where I misjudged the strength of the sun and the duration of that day’s baling and wound up with a blistered sunburn that plagued me for weeks as it healed. I don’t ever intend on repeating that. Not. Fun.
PSA: Wear your sunscreen, kids.
That was over twenty years ago. As my siblings and I moved out of the house, my dad had to find a new way to handle hay. He was down a set of hands and while technically you can square bale with just one person, it takes twice as long and requires twice the effort. As a result of being hired-handless, he has moved towards using more of the large round bales and away from the bulk of the square bales that required so much time and handling.
But every year, there is still a need for a few wagon loads of square bales. He makes due, and typically asks HockeyDad to help out.
As it happens this year, Boy #1 wasn’t in camp and was able to join his dad and his grandpa. And help he did. I got a video later in the day of my boy driving the same tractor I used to drive with the same big old red and white umbrella over his head. And while the guy on the wagon was a few years older, he still moves the same way he did when I was a kid.
Ok, the pace was slower and he was a little more hunched over, but it was still my dad on the back of that wagon. Teaching the next generation the ways of haying.
The red Massey Ferguson tractor towed the hay bine. Behind it was the wooden wagon that has been painted red since I don’t even know when. Everything is the exact same it was over twenty years ago. The tractor, hay bine and wagon are showing their age almost as much as the man that walked back and forth stacking bales. And that tractor? It has been around longer than I have been. I have baby pictures of my dad and I “driving” it to prove the point. It is as much a member of the family as any one of us.
You think I joke? Last time we had family pictures taken, the tractor was in them.
Watching that video, I can smell the hay. I can hear the chug, chug, chug of the tractor as it pulls machinery and man around and around the field. I can feel the sun beating down on my shoulders.
For all the memories and similarities, there are a few notable differences to this video. The red and white umbrella that I saw set up over the driver (aka Boy #1) only ever made an appearance in my hey day (pun intended) when the sun was particularly brutal or I was particularly belligerent about spending the afternoon on a tractor. But put the grandbaby on the tractor? Umbrella comes out.
Also notably absent, the hollering that would come from the wagon should the chug chug chug of the tractor lull a driver into losing focus and missing the hay row. Apparently Grandpa has far more patience than Dad did.
And at the end of the day? My father paid his grandbaby. Boy #1 promptly used his earnings to purchase Lego. But you best believe my teenage self never saw a dime. Sigh, grandpas, what are you going to do with them?
Somehow time has marched on and the chores of my childhood have become an adventure for my children. I happen to know my grandfather is up there grinning from ear to ear. Nothing would make his day better than to watch the next generation take on the task of baling hay.
I would be lying if I said I missed it. Every time I get even the most minor sunburn I’m reminded of those hours on the tractor. But it was nice to see my boy out there on that tractor.
See you at the rink.