September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Just as capable as boys

By Missy Mussman- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

With summer in full swing, numerous farmers are out in their fields cutting, baling or chopping their alfalfa.
Although my family no longer small square bales their hay or straw, I will never forget those summers unloading racks and racks of straw and hay with my sisters, Kristy and Kelsey.
Besides lifting pails full of grain, carrying heavy pails of water to calves and bringing 50-pound bags of lime to the barn, I credit the special task of haying towards keeping me strong and in decent shape during the summer months, especially unloading hay; since those bales tended to be a little heavier than straw bales. Being able to physically do that made me feel just as capable as any boy.
Of course, unloading hay was never a cool job. It was hard to wear clothes to stay cool. I usually had jeans on despite the hot and humid weather to protect my legs from getting scratched up. Only my sister Kristy was brave enough every once in a while to wear shorts.
Normally, Kristy, Kelsey and I would work together with one of us going to the top of the pile to push the bales down from the top of the rack, which most of the time was Kelsey. Kristy or I would bring them to which ever one of us was putting the bales on the conveyor.
I have to admit, our assembly line worked so well sometimes that Dad, who was stacking the bales in the hayloft, would have to tell us to slow down.
"Wait until the bale is in the middle of the conveyor before you put another one on," he said.
But our routine changed one summer day when Dad and Grandpa needed some extra help getting the hay baled and in the hayloft before the rain came, so he called two of our neighbor boys over to help Kristy and I unload the hayracks.
Without fail, the day was one of the most hot and humid days of the summer, making it miserable to work. It felt like Dad and Grandpa would always plan it that way, but we knew it had to get done.
Kristy and I worked out a new routine with our new helpers. We alternated every other rack with the boys to bring and place the bales on the conveyor.
We worked like a well-oiled machine during the first few racks of hay. The guys were doing a great job keeping us moving. But, by the fourth or fifth rack, we noticed our assembly line wasn't moving as fast as it was before.
Regardless, Kristy and I kept plugging along. We had the mindset of, the faster we get this done, the faster we could go in the air conditioned house and have something cold to drink.
After unloading 10 loads of hay, we were all hot and tired and ready for a break. Dad thanked the neighbor boys for coming to help before they took off for home while Kristy and I made a beeline for the house.
As we were pouring ourselves a cold glass of lemonade, Dad and Grandpa came in chuckling as we heard the neighbor boys' car leave the driveway.
I immediately looked at them and asked what was so funny while pouring a glass of lemonade and getting them a small bite to eat.
Dad looked at us and said, "It was funny watching you guys unload the hayracks today."
Kristy and I looked at each other slightly confused as to what they found so funny.
Dad said, "Those boys were having a hard time keeping up with you girls. You were going circles around them."
Knowing how competitive those boys were since they were active in sports, I couldn't help but laugh at that, too. I'm sure for them, it wasn't easy to admit they weren't able to keep up with two girls doing physical labor.
Since then, I have always been grateful for growing up on the farm and having a dad to show us that even though we were girls, we were just as capable and, in this case, even more capable than boys.
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