Well, the Old Men of the Mountain made it through another week and were able to make it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown on Tuesday, May 19th. The OMOTM reported coming through fog on their way off the hill.
This scribe does not know how many, if any, of the OFs stopped to vote on a school’s budget on their way to the Chuck Wagon. Generally, unless there is some radical proposal, the school budget and school board member’s election is light, so the OFs would not be bothered by lines no matter what time the OFs stopped anyway.
Some of the OFs were talking about farming equipment when they were young, and what the equipment is like today. The operations are basically the same, mow the hay (i.e., cut the hay), bale the hay, chop the hay, mow the hay away in the barn, (i.e., hay mow a place in the barn). Mow, and mow, two completely different operations on the farm, yet spelled the same. That’s the English language for you. Farmers plant the corn, plant the grains, milk the cows and how that work is done stays pretty much the same, but the way it is done now is where the WOW shows up.
The OFs started talking about the same story that happened to three of them. In olden days (“In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, but now, heaven knows, Anything Goes.” Thanks to Cole Porter). Anyway, in olden days with a Case baler it took 3 people to bale the hay. One person was on the tractor, and two people were on the baler. On the baler one person poked the wires through the bale, and the one on the other side twisted them together. Two OFs reported the same type of story. One OF had a neighbor farmer who had a daughter who would come and help with the field work at times, and the farmer’s sons would also go along and help them. One day the farmer’s daughter was on the baler twisting the wires, the son’s father was driving the tractor, and one son was pushing the wires through the bales. Just a routine summer’s work day on the farm in olden days, only on this particular day the farmer’s daughter suddenly took off running and screaming across the field.
The OF said his dad stopped the tractor and ran after the girl to see what had happened. The OF said he ran around to the other side to see what had happened there, fully expecting to see a hand cut off or something like that. What he saw was about 6 inches of a large live snake sticking out from the bale, frantically, flaying back and forth with its forked tongue darting in an out and the rest of the snake in the bale. This reptile was in a ton of hurt and not a happy camper.
The OF said if he was on the side of the baler twisting the wires and he saw that snake coming at him with each lunge of the plunger he would have been gone too.
The other OF said they had the same exact experience of baling up a snake with parts of that reptile protruding from the bale, again flaying back and forth. This OF did not mention if it was a wire baler, or a string baler but that part is irrelevant ─ it was the exact same occurrence. What other critters have had the unfortunate experience to become baled up inside hay bales, or for that matter caught up in the corn chopper and blown into a silo, we don’t know for sure. However, one OF mentioned, “Well, it is a good source of protein for the cows”. The OFs looked at this one OG and wondered what kind of farm he had where cows ate meat. The protein for cows comes from grain.
Another OF said that while they were baling (this again was a normal afternoon of putting in hay) his dad was on the tractor and all of a sudden he noticed a doe charging in front of the baler. The OF said his dad stopped immediately and shut the baler down. When the father went to see what was going on, he found that there was a little newborn fawn on the apron of the baler just ready to go into the plunger. The OF said the father picked the fawn up and went to put it in the grass and there in the grass was another fawn.
The OF said they stopped baling in that area, and the next day when they went to the field to finish up and there was the deer with the two fawns; it appeared like she was saying thank you to his father for saving her baby. Farming is hard, dangerous, work but at times can be very interesting.
The OFs were on a brief nature kick, and although the OFs have mentioned a couple of these items before, at this breakfast they were discussing them again as if they were new. The apple trees, along with other flowering trees and shrubs are loaded with blossoms, and the OFs noticed the lilacs have more flowers than leaves, but there are no bees. One OF said a bee here and there is nothing like it used to be when the apple trees at his place would have so many bees in it that the tree sounded like a factory humming.
Some of the OFs have noticed the absence of woodchucks. One OF who does brush hogging says he hasn’t run into a woodchuck hole in about the same period of time. “There are a few woodchucks around,” another OF said, “But not many”. On the other hand, the OFs noticed how many wild strawberry blossoms are around. This is a year for wild strawberries like in the past. The OFs reminisced how when they were younger being sent out by their parents to go and pick them. The OFs said the berries have disappeared for some time but now they seem to be back, however, now the OFs don’t have parents around to send them out to break their backs picking them.
Those OFs that made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, and who are not about to go out and pick wild strawberries, were: Henry Witt, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Roger Shafer, John Rossmann, Andy Tinning, Harold Guest, Chuck Aleseio, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Bill Krause, Duncan Bellinger, Henry Whipple, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Gil Zabel, and me.