The hay shed was finished by June, and nearly the whole neighborhood showed up to help put up the first hay which ever went into it. Two of the Allisons brought over an extra hay loader apiece, and after a long private discussion about safety and responsibilities and not getting carried away in front of everyone, Dad allowed me to drive the hay loader. I nearly burst my buttons.
I drove Old Crip in first gear, idling astraddle the windrow, pulling the hay wagon which in turn pulled the hay loader along behind, languidly clanking and squeaking, feeding up the hay. Two men forked and tramped the hay from the loader onto a sledge which covered the back half of the wagon. When they had a stack that rose three feet or better above the loader, I stopped the tractor, un-hitched the wagon and pulled the sledge and hay to the front half of the wagon bed with the tractor and a cable. Then I hitched up the wagon and we were under way again, the men loading the back half.
The load of hay was drawn alongside of the end of the hay shed and parked under its hood. Dad stood by the wagon and pulled hand over hand on a trip rope which ran up into the shed under the hood to a heavy two tined fork suspended by a carriage which scurried toward the hood along an iron track under the ridgepole. The carriage reached the end of the track under the hood and tripped, dropping the fork to the wagon. It fell fluidly, feeding itself a long loop of heavy hay rope.
Dad mounted the wagon and drove the fork into the center of the front half of the load. After tramping it home, he pulled up a couple of levers, setting trip fingers in the hay, near the points of the tines. He took up the trip rope and slid off the side of the load with a bound, hollering: “All right!”
On the far side of the shed, a hand started his tractor and began backing, taking slack out of the hay rope which ran to the foot of the building, up to the eave, then along the track under the ridge pole to the carriage under the hood and down in a loop to the pulley atop the fork. As he backed, a large dollop of hay broke free of the wagon load, rising to the hood. The neighbors clapped and cheered as the fork engaged the carriage, jerking the hay inside. Dad waited a moment for the hay to travel to the far end of the shed before yanking the trip rope, dropping the hay to the mow floor.
When the hay was up and the neighbors gone, Dad went up into the mow to pull the rope inside. He crawled along in the tight space atop the hay, just below the track and ridge pole. From below we heard a muffled: “Ow…! Ow…! God…! Ow…damned… son of a bitch!” He appeared in the doorway shortly, squeezing shut one eye with streaks of blood running from the crown of his bald head.
What on earth happened up there, Harry?” said our hand. “Of course you don’t look much like ye want to talk about it.”
“Well,” said Dad with a rumpled glance about with his good eye, “I was a-crawling along, and damned if a son of a bitchin’ straw didn’t poke me in the eye. Well I reared up with a jerk, and damned if a son of a bitchin’ nail a-stickin through the roof didn’t stick me in the top of my head. Then I jerked back and poked my eye again on that same cursed straw, which made me run my God damned head into that same God damned, son of a bitchin’ nail again!”