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More Than A Haybale

 
Travis Johnson
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As I grip my wife’s hand, fingers interlaced, and walk to the top of the hill with a picnic basket clutched in the other; deep in my heart I know as a farmer, and father, I have so much to do, yet as a husband, this is the most important activity of the day.

Before us lies a sprawling field with commanding two hundred and seventy degree views of some of Maine's most prominent western ridges. In the mid-ground, hardy rock walls with their sun bleached stones intersect in harsh contrast against a dark carpet of green, ankle high grass with a distant ridge lit in vibrant hues of yellow’s, oranges and reds that glow in the emerging morning sunlight. As a layer of fog rises up from the valley below us, the moisture of the morning dew is apparent from a light breeze carrying the crisp scent of damp corn slowly maturing in a field just beyond the rock wall. With only a slight breeze, the morning’s breath gently rattles the tassels of the corn as we just talk; of children, of our home, of our future; the type of conversation that is nothing, yet is everything in a marriage.

There are hundreds of hay bales to choose from, yet the choice is easy as we spread our quilt over the wet grass at the apex of the hill which affords us the best view, placing our backs against the baled up pasture that acts as both a back rest and a wind break. As deer gracefully graze at the edge of the meadow far in the distance, we begin to dine on carefully wrapped breakfast sandwich’s laden with thick pieces of bacon; fresh eggs and a layer of cheese all stemming from our farm as they are pulled from the picnic basket. Close behind are pieces of toast, smothered with butter and sweetly flavored with cinnamon. A mason jar of fresh cider is splashed into two tumblers as we greet the morning, and in turn the morning greets us.

The draw is too much, and I watch in silence as my wife delays the indulgence of her breakfast, and pries her shoes from her feet, mumbling something about wet shoes on the soft blanket, though I know there is a yearning inside her that begs to walk barefoot across the field as one last hold out of autumn before the green blanket of soft grass with nary a bramble in it, is replaced by harsh, cold snow.

It is a hard reality; the hay bale we so nonchalantly lean against is our sustenance. As farmers, everything we have is equated to the miracle of sheep being able to convert the green round rolls of grass, into delicious red meat. The picnic basket, the food within, and even the shoes she has now taken off, have all been purchased from this conversion. In addition, thousands of dollars have been invested in the tractors and equipment to produce these simple geometric bundles of grass, as well as hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel that provided the energy to do so. Even more equipment, more fuel and more labor is needed to transport these hay bales from this field to the sheep’s mangers so the miracle of conversion of green grass to red meat can continue to take place.

And yet, all this escapes us as we simply enjoy the morning; basking in a simple pleasure of farming life, merely enjoying our wind break, taking pictures of the beautiful bales gracing the morning meadow in all its splendor on top of a simple Maine hill, and posing on various hay bales for pictures and posterity.

The simple round hay bale; for us, sustenance and survival literally rolled into one.

Travis and Katie Johnson
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Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Outstanding.
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
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Farming is not always picnic in the back forty with wife and children in tow; it is also full of stress and worry too, and I say that so people are not disillusioned. However there are times when it is essential to just grab your wife's hand, go for a walk on the farm, and make likewise plans together in the true interest of marriage. I am not sure how many times to do this qualifies as "a lot of times" we do this, or "just a few", but Katie and I try to do this as much as we can, a struggle with 4 young daughters for sure. But it is so essential; for the farm, for each other, for our marriage...

Don't get me wrong, we get outside with our daughters too...a lot actually and in every season...but this thread is about couples.

How do you enjoy your farm together?

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