December 11, 2020
When I went to fish the spillway several weeks ago, I saw a Thanksgiving display at one on the ranches along the route. They had taken a large round bale of hay and decorated it with fence pickets attached to the back of the bale. They toped this off with another larger picket on the front of the bale with a face painted on it. After painting the slates in various colors, the multi-colored slates made a passible turkey. The look was completed with a sign saying, “Happy Thanksgiving.” I thought the display was well done and was amused by their adaptation of the hay bale into a piece of art.
When I was in High School, I spent several seasons working on my grandfather’s farm during the hay season. This was a win/win as he needed cheap labor and I needed money. Bucking bales has adapted over time. Hay used to be thrown on a large pile and compressed as well as possible by standing on it. A later adaptation was the oblong bale. The baler would run through the field and scoop up the dried hay, compress it into on oblong shape, tie it with twine, and spit it out onto the ground. My cousins and I went along behind and threw (bucked) the bales onto a hay trailer to be taken to the barn. Again, we would toss the bales onto a hay elevator that took them to the hay loft. The bales were then stacked. Depending on the yield and dryness of the hay, these bales weighed from #100 – #120 each. Bucking bales always made for a long day.
Hay bales have gone through another adaptation. Manual labor is harder to find and never was efficient. The balers used now create the large round bale I saw in front of the ranch driveway. These weigh in around #1,100 and can not be lifted by a crew of grandkids. Instead, the hay is swathed, turned to dry, baled, and moved to storage, all by machine. Since the bales are so large, they are often just moved to the side of the field to be stored until they are moved to feed the cattle. The feeders represent another adaptation. The bale is usually placed in a circular grid of pipe that allows free access to the hay. The cattle then feed as they will.
Thoughts: When we went past the entrance that held the Thanksgiving Turkey on the way to the spillway yesterday, I noticed another adaptation. The bale decorated as a turkey was still there, but they had added a Santa hat. The sign was also changed to “Merry Christmas.” I thought this was a good adaptation as they again repurposed the bale. I have been impressed by the innovative adaptations that have happened during 2020. The American Dialect Society’s Word of the Year is the oldest English-language version, and the only one that is announced after the end of the calendar year. This is determined by a vote of independent linguists. While it had yet to be decided, my vote for 2020 for the greatest adaptation and most used word would be “Virtual.” Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.