Tuesday, 17 August 2010 10:03

Rolling Round Bales

Written by  Baxter Black, DVM
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Bareback bronze boys black with dirt and glistening with sweat on the back of a flatbed trailer on a hot, humid summer afternoon, used to be a common sight in rural America.

Putting up hay was steady employment for generations of teens, back when backs were strong, labor was honorable for kids and a dollar had value.

But things have changed.

Just like the cotton picker, the drive-through car wash and self-serve gas pumps, the round baler has put legions of young men out of work. Maybe that's not quite fair. The kids are now competing for fast food jobs because the farmer and his wife can "do it all" with machinery. I am not bemoaning this labor saving technology. I never did like stacking baled hay...I still don't. I'm just illustrating the fallout of progress.

To properly handle 1,200 lb. round bales and giant square bales requires the proper equipment. And because some farmers live on that ragged edge between "the old days" and "the new ways," they are forced to improvise. In an effort to cut costs, Arnie decided to buy one big square bale from his neighbor. It saved him money and would last several weeks. He only had a few sheep, a couple show steers and a horse to feed.

Arnie actually built a small open-sided shed to cover the bale. He welded the frame out of 3" pipe and attached several pieces of used tin for the roof. He built a little dirt berm around the base to keep water out. The four corner posts were cemented in the ground.

The obliging neighbor loaded a 1,700 lb. bale of alfalfa hay on the bed of Arnie's pickup and sent him home. Arnie backed up to his new one-bale hay shed, and using a roll of baler wire, two nylon ropes, a leather strap, an inner tube and 15 feet of log chain, he secured his load to the back left-hand corner pipe. Behind the wheel, he let the clutch out. The tires only spun. The truck never moved. So, he dropped into 4-wheel drive, popped the clutch and pulled the entire structure down on top of his pickup!

Blaine, on the other hand, managed to get two round bales of meadow hay on the back of his one-ton flatbed. He hauled his load home and backed down the slight incline to his barn door. Then he walked around behind, lifted the tailboard and was immediately run over by the bale, which rolled out, knocked him down and flattened him into the gravel.

He said it actually hurt less when the second one came.

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