Back during my teenage years when I was hot rodding down the streets of Tulsa, Okla., I would have never dreamed that one day I would be cruising down the gravel roads of Iowa hauling hay.
In August 2016, Debbie and I became the owners of three mini horses – Gazer, Sophie and Harmony.
We bought a horse shed and with the help of family, added a fenced-in area for the horses to graze.
Debbie is in charge of feeding the horses and my job is hauling hay for them. I can get 10-bales in the back of my old newspaper van. It once was used to haul newspapers and now is used to haul hay.
Even though I grew up in the city, my mom and dad both grew up in the country. They knew the value of hard work, taking care of their family and taking care of the animals.
In 1974, my parents bought a 20-acre farm south of Tulsa. It was part of an 80-acre dairy farm that had been split into three farms - two 20-acre sections and one 40-acre section. The farm was located along Highway 67 about 20 miles south of downtown Tulsa.
They had looked for a farmstead for several years when they found this place. All that was left from the original farm was the concrete foundation and a section of the back porch of the old farm house. The old milk barn was just over the fence on the neighbor’s 40-acres.
I was in middle school the year they bought the farm and I remember spending a late fall Saturday afternoon knocking down horse weeds with my dad. It scared me a bit as the night before I had watched a spooky movie at a church youth Halloween party. I was afraid I was going to find a dead body.
My folks bought a mobile home in 1981 from a family member in southeast Missouri. My mom had it towed to Tulsa and we blocked it up ourselves. Uncle J.W., my mom’s youngest brother, setup mobile homes for years and I learned a little about the business working for him in my early 20s.
They moved from Tulsa to the farm that same year. I was already out of high school and decided to remain in my boyhood home. They lived in the mobile home for a dozen or more years until building a log cabin on the property in 1994. It was my mother’s dream home.
They raised a big garden every year and my dad had a small herd of 20 head of cattle that he raised. When someone asked him how many cattle he had, he always said, “Under 100.” Dad always bought a new bull every two years because he was concerned it would turn mean on him.
At Christmas, he would ask the neighbor fellow to haul his calves to the Tulsa Stockyards and sell them. He used the money from the sale to buy Christmas gifts. He also collected pop cans at work and every December sold them at a Tulsa recycle place. He used the money to take us all out for a Christmas dinner at Bob’s Fish and Fowl in Broken Arrow, an all-you-can eat joint. It was a great place to dine and my dad always reminded me to skip the salad bar and bread and get to the fish and chicken.
“You fill up on salad and bread and you don’t have any room for the meat,” he’d tell me.
Anyway, my first experience hauling hay was in the summer of 1992. My dad bought some square bales from a neighbor down the road. I decided to help put the hay in the barn, something I had never done before.
It was a typical hot Oklahoma summer day. The neighbor, his son and my dad showed up in pants and long sleeve shirts. I showed up in shorts and a T-shirt. It didn’t take me long to learn that shorts and a T-shirt was not appropriate clothing for hauling hay. By the end of the day, my legs looked like a Brillo scouring pad, but I stuck it out and survived the ordeal.
My dad knew the key to pacing himself without overworking. He didn’t want to take a break. His goal was getting the hay in the barn. I’m about to choke for a Pepsi and he’s just working, slow and easy. I finally talked everyone into taking a rest and downing a cold soda. In about 10-minute it was back to work. I didn’t remember how many square bales we moved, but I’m sure it was more than 100.
It was a memorable day and another chapter in a good life!
Have a great week and take care of yourself, my friends. And always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.