I’m not big on tattoos. Don’t get me wrong, some of them are real works of art. Some commemorate major life events, like the one I’ve been thinking about having done for a while. Still others are just body graffiti, gotten “just because.” But folks, I’m here to tell you, I think I may need to have one done, in BIG LETTERS, on my FOREHEAD, because it’s a simple lesson that I simply haven’t managed to learn in my 40 odd years circling the Sun. Maybe seeing it in the mirror every morning will help drive it home. It’s going to say, in nice swirly letters, “The Best Laid Plans Of Mice And Men Often Go Awry.” Or maybe just “Man Proposes, God Disposes.” My forehead isn’t THAT big.
It all started reasonably enough. We thought we’d start haying just a little early this year. Darling Hubby carefully examined the weather forecasts and settled on what was supposed to be a completely dry week, with temperatures hovering at or above 100. He took the week off and started checking the machinery. I stocked the fridge with Body Armor and Gatorade. All was working well, or so we thought.
Hubs got the cutting done on schedule. Unbeknownst to us, we were really going to beat the odds that week. The night after cutting, the 5% chance of rain turned into a lovely thunderstorm. Rats, we thought. No biggie, turning it should help it dry right out. Or it would have if it hadn’t rained again. Finally, towards the end of the week, our hay was indeed dry, and Hubs headed out with our semi-antique baler.
Of course, as many of you with more experience are aware, machinery has a way of malfunctioning when it gets to the field. Sure enough, the knotter was broken, as Hubs discovered in the dark. He managed to MacGyver a part, and the baler was up and running again the next morning. I rounded the kids up, loaded up a cooler, grabbed work gloves, and away we went to stack bales.
Darling Daughter is a new driver. She was simply itching to drive the hay truck (or maybe she was just itchy from the hay itself). Of course, she and her brother have been helping with the hay truck and tractor in the field for a few years now. She begged to drive it back to the house (just across the creek) and load the hay under the barn with her little brother. Marveling at her work ethic, we agreed. Hubs took the time to rehydrate and show me some of what he’d done on the baler. Suddenly, an odd look came over his face. “Is she any good at backing?” he asked slowly.
I rolled the question around in my head. “Well,” I replied, “we haven’t heard any crashes or splashes yet, right?” Hubby shook his head no. “That must mean she’s OK at it. Otherwise she’d have knocked the barn down or backed into the creek.” Hubs didn’t look convinced. “We should probably go check though.” The words had barely cleared my lips when we were both speed walking towards home, ears peeled for any sound of trouble.
Just as we cleared the driveway, the flatbed swung into view with two grinning kids in the front seat. Not only had they unloaded the truck, but Darling Daughter had remembered how to offset stack, and they’d made a respectable start. I hopped up onto the back of the truck and grinned my fool head off all the way back to the field.
They kept working efficiently through my emergency twine run that afternoon. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. Here they were, cooperating and even joking with each other when a few short years ago, I wondered how on Earth I was going to keep them from killing each other. I took a deep breath and exhaled happily until I saw the untied hay coming from the baler…and was that smoke? Crud. Hubby said the bill hook and cutoff knife went into the needle, effectively ending the baling. We decided we were finished for the day and went to get dinner. Of course, that little tiny chance of rain the next day was nothing to worry about.
During swim practice the next day, the clouds had gathered again. Out at our place, we only got a sprinkle, but the threat of more loomed on the radar screen. There were still plenty of bales out in the field. Over their protests, we headed out again. One load, then two, three, and four. Any more and we’d be stacking damp bales, and I really didn’t want to risk burning the barn down. Thankfully, the second wave of rain never reached us that day, and Hubs could come help us load the final bales after he finished work.
Our best-laid plans absolutely went awry, but we got so very much more out of that week. We got to work together and play together, and learn that even broken balers aren’t the end of the world. Sometimes it’s best when things don’t come out like you planned.