Bryce Angell is a cowboy poet. Angell was raised on a farm/ranch in the St. Anthony, Idaho area with approximately 75 head of horses. Horses remain an important part of Angell’s life.
Angell shares his poetry with Cache Valley Daily every Friday.
I’ve listened to my father tell of how they put up hay. They stacked it loose, then
tromped it down. That was the only way.
He said, “We had a hayin’ crew of ten to twelve good men. Those country boys
weren’t scared of work. That’s all they knew back then.”
The crew would claim the bunkhouse, where the bunks were stacked to three. If
you didn’t snore your chance of sleep was zero guaranteed.
The men would get an early start, but first came ham and eggs. “They ate a lot,”
my father said. “They all had hollow legs.”
Each morning grandma cooked. She’d fry three dozen eggs or so. She said, “A
hearty breakfast keeps a body on the go.”
The work was nothing new to them, and now it’s never seen. They worked so
well together like a finely tuned machine.
Someone was always kidding ‘cuz they loved to joke around. But they knew how
far to push it. Might get pounded in the ground.
At twelve o’clock the workers stopped to rest and get renewed. The horses ate
their bags of oats. The men wolfed down their food.
They’d take an hour, then back to work right up to supper time, then line up at
the water trough to wash off dirt and grime.
There were no skimpy appetites. Those men sure loved to eat. At night the cook
out-did himself, with chunks of beefy meat.
They’d head back to the bunkhouse. Some played checkers up till dark. But most
of them were sound asleep before night made its mark.
It wasn’t just about the hay. ‘Twas camaraderie. But those hayin’ days have
changed, I’d say, from pure necessity.
And now I look out in the fields and watch a farmer hay. So much is automated.
They say we’ve come a long, long way.
He’ll climb down off his tractor, take a gaze out on the crop. And thinks about
those men who’d work so hard they’d nearly drop.
He’ll even start to wonder, thinking ‘bout those days of old when men would
rather work than play. He says, “I guess God broke the mold.”
But I’ll bet he’ll tell a story, when his hayin’ days are through, of how he put the
hay up with his dang near one-man crew.