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Posted 7/29/09 (Wed)


Well, we’re getting down to the end of the haying season. Shirley and Will should about wrap it up the next couple days. And it has been relatively uneventful.
Oh, there has been a few mishaps. And I think if we had a way to investigate, like they do in airline crashes, we would determine that most of our problems are caused by “pilot error.”
Have you ever noticed that there is a direct link between salary and repairs? I mean it. If you hire a good man, or woman, and pay them pretty good, it seems like things get greased, throttled back, raised over, gone around, aired up, and so forth.
I’m always too cheap to hire good help. Shirley and Will work long days. I work occasionally. But we haven’t hired anybody in years. We rely on donated labor by friends and relatives. People who mean well.
For instance, there is Herb. Herb is from New York. Upstate New York. He makes sure you know this. And he comes out to North Dakota each year to help us out during haying. And to shoot PDs. PDs are prairie dogs. I guess that’s what you call them in Upstate New York.
So, every year, Herb loads his weapons of mass destruction in the back of his jeep and heads for the ranch. He brings a truckload of guns ranging from pellet guns to howitzers. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has rocket-propelled grenades in there. He has shooting tables, tripods, and enough rifles to defeat the French in a shootout.
And he likes to help. So, I put him on the mower-conditioner. Brand new. Paid for with a credit card. I want it to last, at least till we make the first payment. So I asked if he can drive the Ford tractor. He assures me, “If it has wheels, I can run it!”
I explain the transmission, the pto, and the hydraulics. He has it down. I explain there is only one thing you have to worry about. DON’T TURN TOO SHORT! I mention this time and time again. DON’T TURN TOO SHORT! If you turn too short, the gooseneck hitch on the swing tongue hits the tractor tire and can cause tremendous harm.
I make one round with Herb. He has it down. So I get out and stand there and watch him go down the field, make one turn, and run the gooseneck over the tire. Causing tremendous damage! His explanation is always the same, “the frickin’ mirrors aren’t set.”
A couple of days later, we have things pretty well straightened out. And Herb is shooting PDs. I leave the swing tongue in a field near the dog town and come home for dinner. Herb, always wanting to help, takes over the cutting. Unbeknownst to me. He makes a couple of rounds and a wheel falls off. Not his fault. The lug bolts worked loose. Can happen. He doesn’t notice that he is dragging the swing tongue down the field sideways cause it has only one wheel. Well, he notices when he comes around again and finds he has a dead furrow to drive in.
He explains it wasn’t his fault. “The frickin’ mirrors aren’t set.”
I gently explain that as long as he is in the tractor anyway, “just kind of glance back once in awhile.”
That reminds me of the guy that used to work for Jim. He was hauling hay home and would occasionally lose a few bales. And his mirrors didn’t work either, and he would come home with half a load of hay.
One time he pulled in the yard with no trailer. I mean no trailer. Jim walks over and asked where the trailer was.
“Darrel” looks back and says, “I don’s know. It was behine me da las time dat I looked!”
But, myself, if I had to work for what I was worth, I’d starve to death.