Dad selected a level spot for the baler and secured it in place. Helpers made final wind rows with the sulky, which was seldom used except on hay-baling days; it usually sat on a rocky place, and grass grew up in it and around it. On this day the "long Tom" rake also appeared. I think Dad and other farmers might have owned it together. It had long, smooth wooden teeth for gathering hay and bringing it up close to the baler. The mules pulled from a different hitch - not side by side but a few yards apart. Loose hay bunched up between the mules. The driver backed mules and empty rake away, and the loose hay stayed on the ground, near the baler. Dad got his special pitchfork for tossing loose hay into the baler hopper; my brother Jim cranked the noisy balerís gasoline engine; and suddenly we were baling hay!
Jim then stood on the opposite side of the baler, facing me. I had watched this hay-baling process, and I knew I was to extend the loop ends of two long baling wires through slots in a wooden block and then insert the other ends of the long wires through the slots of a second wooden block. Jim, on the other side, would twist the wires together securely so that when the entire bale was ejected, it expanded to make a neat, tight bale weighing about 90 pounds. When Dad yelled, "Block," Jim put in a spacer block to separate the next two bales. The next cloud of dust and dirt arrived before I finished stuffing those long wires through the slots in the blocks. It helped me to ignore the hay that was down my neck and the grit between my teeth and to remember that I was earning 75 cents that day.
I enjoy acquainting city readers with some of the details of farm living that have made American farmers the great food producers that they are today.
My brother Jim and his wife, Ella Mae, busy farm owners, have lived into their 90s here in Boone County, except when he was Major James D. Meyers, field artillery, in Europe. My husband, W.F "Chub" Gerard, was three years in service, and I lived on our Boone County farm until his passing in 1998.