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Sunday, June 23, 2024


 by Judy Ann Davis

There was something magical for me when I was growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania, and the month of June rolled around. School was no longer in session. Only for rare winters, when we had an un-unusual amount of snow, did a school year extend into June.

For farmers, the first long stretch of rain-free days heralded the beginning of haying season. A sickle bar side mower was hitched to our Farmall C tractor, and my father headed to the hayfields. I used to like to watch him slice down the rows of tall grass in perfect side-by-side rows. The sweet smell of clover, timothy, and other grasses drying in the blazing sun permeated the air.  
On rare occasions, you might hear the squawk of a killdear as it flew up from among the still-standing stalks. Dad was always careful to stop, find the nest, and mow around it, leaving some tall grass to protect and camouflage it. 
 If by chance, the weather turned fickle and the hay became wet, we knew on the first clear day, we’d have to man our pitchforks. With the fork in hand and often with some help from your shoe, you could lift and flip the hay over on itself to dry. Round and round the field you’d go.
While everyone disliked this job, I found it relaxing because I liked to daydream—or if Dad and I worked side-by-side—to talk. And it was always a heart-stopping surprise when a sleek black racer slid out from under the hay row, just inches from the toe of your shoe.

Before we purchased a square hay baler, we used a hay loader hitched behind a 1932 Chevy flatbed truck with a crank start, once used for milk delivery. I was only nine or ten years old when I first started driving it, straddling the rows of loose hay while the loader gobbled it up. I remember half-standing up and holding on to the steering wheel to push the peddles on the clutch and brake when Dad, scattering the hay on the truck’s bed, signaled for me to stop. I was always in awe of his ability to whistle a loud shrill sound with just two fingers in his mouth.                          

Then, it was off to the barn where a large hay fork on a track lifted bunches up from the truck, onto an overhead track, and into the loft where it was scattered about. I also often mowed away loose hay when I was a little older, spreading it to level the loft.

When people ask me if I missed the farm when I moved away, I have to admit I didn’t miss the hard work, hot days, and hayseeds. But there was something special about growing up in the country.

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s words come to mind, and I like to paraphrase one of his quotes:
                     “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, 
                      and you’re a thousand miles from the corn (or hay) field.


  1. I didn't miss farming--I'm still glad we don't farm--but I'm glad to have always lived in the country.

  2. Judy Ann, you write such great blogs. You make life on a farm sound wholesome and an ideal place to grow up, which it probably was. Although I'm a city girl, my mom used to talk about how hard farm life could be. My husband and I did have an orchard for many years. Fortunately, he worked at his engineering career in the city while we cared for and harvested several varieties of peaches and, for several years, a three acre gardden. It was only 20 acres, part of which was used for our home. It was hard work, but nothing like being a full time farmer with more land. I miss having the home-canned vegetables, though.


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