The Ruination of Modern Society


If you’ve never seen square bales coming out of a baler, here’s a quick little video. It’s oddly addicting to watch the hay eaten in on one end then pooped out the other. This is how square bales are made:

That’s Sam’s voice in the video. Sam is the hay man’s brother. My hay man is Roger. He’s retired, so he’s “the hay man” available full-time for customers. Sam works as a mechanic by day and also drives a school bus. He runs the baler. Their family owns hundreds of acres across the Walton area in Roane County where they hay.

That’s Roger driving the tractor, and that’s me riding high with the best seat in town–on top of the hay.

That’s Adam on the left and Adam’s dad, Gary, on the right.

They came with me to get my last two truckloads of hay out of the field. It’s a little cheaper out of the field if you can coordinate help on the day they’re baling. (Not always easy.) It’s $2.50 out of the barn, $2.00 out of the field. Roger agreed to pull his trailer and let us bring the hay down and pack the trucks at the barn, which was mighty nice of him since it’s hard to pack hay on trucks to your best advantage on sloped fields. He doesn’t usually do that, but I bring him sausage biscuits.

It was beautiful out there. I love hay fields. I’m not a good loader person. I have a hard time heaving bales up onto trailers or trucks. I’m an unloader and I love that job. It’s basically a “kid’s” job, but I’m glad I can at least do that. I love climbing into the back of a truck and clambering up on bales and moving bales down to the drop zone where the men carry and stack. I’m almost sorry when it’s over because I want to do it more.

My truck being loaded from the trailer:

Second truck loaded:

I’ve got all my hay in now. (This final haul was a few days ago, but I wasn’t able to post due to my internet outage.) I’ve got around 675-680 bales in the barn–500 in the loft and the rest downstairs in two areas. Having a farm on my own, I spend a lot of time around men, mostly farming men. They’re always entertaining. I love farm men. The conversation in the hay field that day came around to round bales as the ruination of modern society. In the olden days, young people worked in the fields all summer loading and unloading hay bales. Today, round bales are popular and they’re handled by equipment, which is why so many kids today don’t know how to work. There you go, now you know. Roger and his brother only make square bales, and they have trouble finding kids to work in the field. I took home 104 bales that day, but Roger drove us around longer than that and Adam and his dad picked up more bales than I was taking home, which was fine with me to help Roger as repayment for my hay ride–and I pay hired men by the hour, so they don’t lose out whether they’re picking the hay up for me or just helping me be my hay man’s favorite customer.

No more hay rides till next year. (Well, except I will have hay rides here at Sassafras Farm, in my new old hay wagon, at the Party on the Farm on September 16. Are you coming? Get the info and sign up here.) Haying is over for me this year. But I can always go stand in the barn and sniff…..


  1. CATRAY44 says:

    Good thing you updated this blogg. I was about to leave. :airkiss:

    Jokes aside, this was a wonderful post. Life is good. What keeps making me smile is that you have so quickly become part of the “neighborhood”! I see that you are forming wonderful friendships and ties that will last through the years. Thank you, again, for all the time you put in here, to share with us.

  2. easygoinglady says:

    Memories of my childhood, when my grandad would bale hay on his farm. He had some hired guys from the neighboring farm that would come and help of course. When we were older, us kids would go help pick up hay in the field. I wasnt that great at it, but I helped. It was also great fun putting the hay up the hay elevator.

    At meal time, my grandma would cook up a big meal for them all and have it ready so they didnt have to wait. Hungry farm boys can eat ALOT!!

  3. brookdale says:

    Yes, “sniff…sniff…sniff…” I love the smell of fresh hay too.
    But then, “kerchoo! kerchoo!” And the allergies kick in.
    Great story, Suzanne, (as usual!)Love the pic of your boots and the view way up on top of the load.
    As for kids helping, I can remember when we used to help, before the days of bales, when Grandpa and the hired men would pitch the hay (with a PITCHfork) way up on top of the load in the old truck and haul it to the barn. Our job was to tromp it down on the truck, or up in the haymow after it was put inside with the big hayfork loader.
    Love haying season!

  4. ronald bennington says:

    Thank for sharing…..

  5. Remudamom says:

    Ha! My kids called it “pooping out hay bales” too. We’re part of the ruination, we only bale big bales now. Too many cattle to waste time with small bales, we’d never get them all hayed. I do keep small square bales for my ponies who have to be closely monitored to avoid founder. I buy them from a local kid. My boys helped a friend haul small bales this summer but it isn’t anywhere near as common as when my husband was a boy. But there is always plenty of work for our kids to do on the ranch., even without small bales. BTW, have you ever seen a “hay monster”?

  6. Leck Kill Farm says:

    I have lived surrounded by working farms my entire life and I still like to watch the hay balers and combines when I see them in the field.

    I never thought about the impact of round hay bales on teen labor. Mennonite girls provide most of the “putting in hay” duties for my hay farming friends. They get paid by the bale.

  7. fowlers says:

    Of all my farming: experiances::: bailing hay, lifting hay, doing anything w/ hay, except for smelling hay::was a “Man’s Job” thank the Good Lord!” My Grandmother gave birth to 8 boys: all but 1 (handicapped) got the jobs of being a “Hay Boy” & I swear I think he would given the chance!!!! My Grandmother; swore to whip any of the men and or boy’s as she called them, If I, (the first Granddaughter) was ever put to that kind of work! Oh how she loved me!!!!she would check my hands, when we returned, to make sure::she allway’s knew, due to how your hands looked on exactly what you had been doing all day! ?? she could peg it in a second! So all that being said,,,the picture of you up on top, looking down! Those are the day’s I remember: lot’s of rides and the smells! Wish they could put that in a bottle!!& call it “Peace” I loved taking those tractor rides on their farm. Glad your back by the way!!

  8. CindyP says:

    Growing up, hay was about the only kind of field I saw. Now I live in the middle fruit and vegetable crops and don’t see many hay fields at all. But hay is the smell of summer 🙂

    I haven’t hayed in MANY years, but there was a wagon attached behind the baler so the bale went right up on the wagon as soon as it was baled, never hitting the ground. There was 1 person on the wagon to stack it. One tractor and 2 people to do the entire job all at the same time.

  9. CarrieJ says:

    That’s a trip! How much does a bale of hay weigh?

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Carrie, about 50-70 pounds per bale.

      Denise, hay is pretty cheap in WV, from what I hear from people in other parts of the country. The hay is average mixed hay, not alfalfa. It’s good quality for feeding, according to my hired farmers. Good enough for horses, too–I do supplement all my animals in the winter with sweet feed, alfalfa cubes, and other stuff.

  10. mjpeters says:

    Love this post! It made me think of the lovely “Haymaking” chapter in T.S. White’s “The Once and Future King.”

  11. denisestone says:


    What type of hay is this that it is only $2.00/bale? Is this winter forage? Oat hay? Any idea?

    I pay about $15/bale here in California for hay and I am forced to buy it from the feed store.

  12. rhubarbrose says:

    Oh wow – that takes me back to the good old days of my youth. I think we had the exact same New Holland baler in fact and that would have been me driving the tractor with my dad and brothers loading. Now, in our area, the hay is baled into huge round bales with only a few small square ones to be found. The smell of hay is one of my most favourite things. The Daily Farm picture you took is stunning!

  13. ElizaRed says:

    …. am of pre-hay baler times …..and pre-tractor, too. Hay was hauled from the field to the barn via horses pulling a sled (home made by Dad and Grandpa)and we (the daughters…there were no brothers) got to be in the hay loft with the heat and the wasps moving the hay to the back and stacking it with the pitchfork. Also, we would make haystacks in the hayfield with the horse pulling the hay “shock” and then stacking the hay around the pole. (A visiting city uncle once asked how we got the pole in the middle of the haystack.) A chain was wrapped around the base of the shock (a pile of hay made from the windrow) then the horse pulled it to the pole….guided by one of the girls, of course.) Only the youngest of us five sisters got to have the experience of making square bales. This was in Roane County, WV.

  14. Dennis says:

    I started hauling hay at 13 years old.That’s how i bought my truck at almost 16.Hay prices are crazy here in Arkansas but we are starting to get rain and it’s much greener at my place.I need to get hay today myself.

  15. SanAntonioSue says:

    Love it!! My daddy baled hay for many years before and after he retired from the tractor repair business. I think every teenager should have to spend a summer working in a hay field. The “I’m tired and/or my (current) job is sooo hard (whiney voice)” tends to occur a lot less often (just ask my boys) once they spend a hot, humid July/August working from sun-up to sun- down doin’ some cutting, raking and baling on a non-air conditioned tractor. 😉

  16. Estella says:

    I helped put hay in the mow when it was pulled to the barn on a sled by horses. When my Dad finally got a baler , it made square bales held together with wire. i learned to “tie” the wires when I was a pre-teen. It was really hot, dusty work.

  17. Sue, a Florida Farm Girl says:

    Tthis Farm Girl is familiar with hay baling. Thankfully, however, the two brothers at home did the baling and loading. I did help sometimes with the unloading. And we are talking about peanut hay here. Much heavier than grass hay and much more scratchy. We used the chute to move it from the trailer up to the loft and then it was stacked up there. Even to this day, I love the smell of freshly mown hay. There’s something about it that goes right to the bottom of my soul and immediately transports me back to the farm and what I think of as simpler times.

  18. manlovea says:

    Hi Suzanne! I agree that round hay bales are the ruination of modern society…that and they are a waste of space, as my dad would say! I cringe everytime I see round hay bales laying in a field getting destroyed by the weather. Then I cringe again when I see them lined up with white plastic covering by a farm. Uffda…what an eyesore! I didn’t have to go to the field when I was young, but I spent many a day unloading hay with my dad onto the elevator. I hated it then, but miss it now. 😥 I think my favorite thing was the lunch my mom made for the “men” that I got to eat too…in between hay loads. Sandwiches, sheet cake or other bars and orange koolaide – my dad’s favorite and the only time we go it! Ah…memory lane… 😀

    I need to comment about that horrible e-mail you received the other day…that girl is whacked! She obviously has never lived the life of a farmer. You don’t have any idea what is going to happen from one day to the next! And to be honest…I hold you so high above the Pioneer Woman it isn’t even funny. I liked Rae at first, but I think she is too big for her britches and that has taken away from the sincerity in her blog. You, on the other hand, are as sincere as they make them! While I wish you TREMENDOUS success, I know you will always keep it real…because you are the farmer!

    And why would she have to write you an e-mail to let you know she’s no longer going to read your blog…?!?! No brains, no headaches, right?!

    ~Amy in WI

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