On the 21st of July, the OMOTM met at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg, and it was a typical Tuesday for this summer, drizzle…and then out and out rain.
At the corner of the table where this scribe sat was a farmer section. The standard OF banter were normal conversations to get things started but then the talk turned to haying, and the OF’s kept on this subject for some time. The reason was the weather, and these fellows all said they were glad they were not haying this year. It is almost like haying between the rain drops, the OF’s said.
There were varied ideas on how to hay, but all came down to getting good hay in the barn. We spoke about the old ways of haying with the sickle bar mower, or haybine, rake, and bailer, wagons, hay hooks, hay elevator, and all kinds of haying equipment just to cut grass so the cows can eat and produce milk. The OF’s discussed not only the cutting of the hay and how to keep it from spoiling, but how to feed it.
There is a lot more to haying than just cutting the hay, lots of city folk think it is like cutting your lawn. Wrong. First of all, the farmer has to be a good weather forecaster so he knows when to cut the hay and how much to cut so it is able to be dried and baled and then placed under cover before it is rained on. This is critical. Guess wrong and it will either mold or else it will burn the barn down. Today with round bales the burning down of the barn is not too much of a problem because most of these bales are left in the field and gathered when needed, but done wrong it will still mold.
The conversations this morning covered all these bases and then some. The OF’s started talking about the particular additives they added to the hay to get the cows to eat so even if they had bad hay the cows would have the roughage. Hay, plus grain, is what makes the cows produce and a happy cow is a full cow. They OF’s would add molasses, and salt, and whatever the cows liked; then the cows would eat stalks, and even burdocks if it had their favorite tasty treat on it. However, nothing beats good hay – hay that is not full of weeds, and is still green when the bales are opened – whether it is the square or round bale, stored in the barn or brought in from the field.
The OF’s said that in a summer like this one farmers have to get the hay in, and have to take a chance. A lot of hay is getting wet, and left in the field to be used as mulch; some is able to be caught just right, but if some is done too early it may be subject to mold.
So much for the farming lesson, such as it is, and it is subject to more discussion and change. We realize it isn’t just farming that is affected by the weather. It is also construction. Road construction is held up and ground prep for buildings can’t be done if the dirt is going to turn to mud. The travel business as well is hurt, and as one OF put it lousy weather makes everyone grumpy, bored, and irritable. Conversely the same thing is true when it is too darn hot, and too darn dry. So all the OF’s can do is complain. Complaining does make it better. When things are bad complain. After a good complaining session it doesn’t looks so bad, because in the middle of a good complaint some condition worse than the one being complained about crops up.
The OF’s best feature is complaint. The OF’s complain about the weather, aches and pains, taxes, politicians, how long it takes to get anything done and the list goes on. Some OF’s even complain about not being attractive to the young ladies. This is a lament of one of the OF’s older members, not the oldest, but one of the oldest. The rest of the OF’s that don’t complain know they are just as handsome as always.
Now we get a true senior moment. A carload of new members didn’t really know where Duanesburg was, so they arrived at the restaurant by way of Altamont. This was worth a chuckle but some of the OF’s remembered seasoned Hilltowners getting really twisted around on the way to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, and they should have know better. Then there was the completely different carload taking the wrong turn on the way to the Middleburg Diner, and not showing up when they normally arrive. The OF’s friends at the restaurant were really concerned after calling one of the OF’s homes to see if they had left and when they did leave. Everybody was wondering where they were. Eventually they showed up, and these were seasoned Hilltowners too. The new fellows now know the way to Duanesburg so this time they have an excuse but next time! Aha.
All those OF’s that eventually made it to the Duanesburg Diner and filled the backroom up were: Carl Walls, Carl Slater, Henry Witt, Paul Paulsen, Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, Ted Pelkey, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Don Moser (welcome back after complete shoulder replacement), Duane Wagenbaugh, Jim Watson, Jay Taylor, Bob Benac, John Brooks, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, Gerry Chartier, Willard Osterhout, Art Frament, Bill Thorpe, and me.