Yesterday I had the good fortune to welcome a giant truckload of hay into our nearly empty hay loft. If you were wondering why you didn't hear from me, it was because after I wrote the check to pay for said hay I was cast in a corner in a catatonic state, complete with epic string of drool dangling from my quivering lip. I know it isn't my hay guy's fault that hay is so bloody expensive nowadays (I love that word, but why don't we say thenadays?), but he brought me fifty bales more than I asked for, therefore boosting the cost by quite a few nickels. And as usual, after basically emptying my bank account to pay for a stupid amount of dried grass I got the classic tale of the woebegone hay man. I wish I had audio on here, because this guy has such a distinct voice, but I don't so just imagine what the vocal chords of a 50+ year old man who has inhaled enough hay chaff over the years to choke the entire cast of Gossip Girls (if only!!) look like and...cue hay man:
"Well, you know it was kind of a tough year for hay last year."
*Sorry to interrupt, but according to all hay guys anywhere in the universe there has NEVER been a good year for hay. EVER. PERIOD. This is the standard intro they use directly after you've sold some valuable family heirlooms to pay for dried grass that half the horses in your barn will trample and shit on. Okay, back to the hay guy:
"We had a lot of rain back there in May, which made it hard to get a good first cutting. Then it got so dry, the second cutting didn't want to grow, but then it rained again for a good spell and that made it hard to get the second cutting cut. I got this truckload from a farmer up near the Canadian border and he said that he had to sell half his loads to the cow people this year, because the horse people didn't want to buy it. But don't worry, this is a good batch of second cutting. It might be a little stalky, but that's what happens when it rains before you get to cut second cutting. I'll stand behind this load. Now I'd best get going because I have six more deliveries to make before sundown and then I have to go home and feed my horses, cows and pigs, which will take me till around 11:30, then I have to get up at 3:30 to go pick up another load of hay in Ohio. Take care, now."
And just like that, he shimmies up into the seat of his semi-truck, artfully backs the mile long trailer out of my driveway, which is akin to threading a needle with a piece of baling twine, and heads off down the road with a toot of the air horn. A wave of loose hay flies off the truck bed in his wake, like congratulatory confetti, but I don't feel like being congratulated. Instead, I feel a little weak in the knees and I check my watch to see if it's too early in the day for a cocktail.
Last night after a stiff drink helped me somewhat recover from writing that hefty check, I went down to the barn. Bless their big ole hearts, the horses were all munching away on the new hay with gusto, barely pausing to glance up at me as I walked down the aisle. Well, that's was a good sign at least. I climbed the ladder on the wall into the hayloft, which isn't terribly easy dead sober and quite a feat after a little drinkie and took a deep inhale as I walked between the towers of newly stacked hay. A few hours earlier the hayloft had been swept nearly clean, just a few cobwebs dangling from the rafters and couple of old bales covered with dust in the corner. I paused to reflect how funny it is that for a barn owner filling the hayloft offers some strange comfort, even though the cost to do so is staggering. It's ironic, really. And then I realized what an ass I was to be up in the hayloft at night in January, standing amongst ginormous stacks of dried grass that I'd recently written a four figure check for and having the profound pontification's of a slightly tipsy and crazy person. Sighing, I fumbled my way down the death trap ladder, checked on the ungrateful beasts that eat us out of house and home and expect continual servitude from yours truly and made myself repeat out loud, "You are so lucky to do what you love for a living". At that moment, my dog Becks darted across the aisle and snagged the biggest, grossest, fattest rat I've ever seen in my life. Good boy, I told him in a weak voice. Then I got the pitchfork, averting my eyes I scooped up the dead beast and walked it to the manure pile, whispering, "you are so f'ing lucky, so, so very lucky..."