Wyoming Cowgirl - On the Ranch

Story by Cris Paravicini

The Littlest Hay Hand

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The Littlest Hay Hand
By Cris Paravicini

The young boy slid out of his Dad's pickup, hiked his britches into position, patted his good luck Hesston belt buckle and cautiously made his way to the machine shop where the rancher was getting his haying equipment ready to go.

I'm looking for a haying job, sir, announced the boy, as he reached to shake the man's hand.  Just so you'll know up front, I've never done this kind of work before, but you'd be surprised at all the things I do know.

You're probably thinkin' that I'm kind of a small guy, but I'm going to surprise you, because last week I became much older when I finally turned eleven.

I even passed up middle school football for the fall, 'cause I've sure been wantin' to try hayin' ever since I was only seven.

My mom keeps on saying,  "Son, you've gotta wait a while. There's plenty of time to learn to work; there's lots of time for that."
Then Dad just winked at me, and it sure made Mom mad when he told me,
"Son, hurry up and grab your cowboy hat."

So, here I am, hoping you have a job left for a boy like me.
If you'll just teach me how, I can do it, I know!  Please, sir, give me a chance, and I'll work real hard, and I don't eat much, just you wait and see.

Well, the rancher could tell by the look in the lad's eye.
And that certain way he wore his bent-outta-shape cowboy hat said
loud and clear to him that this boy probably had lots of try.

So the man asked, "Is there any chance at all, son, that you might already
know how to drive?"

Afraid not, sir, Mom says I'm still too young, but I do have an old
Tonka truck still sittin' in my sand pile with real gears, and I've been
sittin' beside my dad and steering the pickup since I was only five."

The rancher scratched his chin and replied. "You know, I think that surely
oughta work.  You're just the man I've been looking for.  Why, you've got
"hay hand" written all over your face, so we'll discuss up front the way
this all works. I think that's only fair.

Pardner, once you start, you can never quit; the job's long and it's
hard and can be mighty rough.  You'll get tired and hot and real mad at the
boss.  So, if you still want the job, go on home and ask your mom one more
time, then gather up your bedroll and come on back in a couple of days, and
I'll teach you how to run that little, gray Ford tractor over there."

The boy did just like he was told and tried real hard just like he'd
said.  He raked many tons of hay that summer and got tired and hot and more
than a little mad at the boss, who watched over him like a field hawk.  Why
that lad was so determined to do a good job, that several times when he'd
missed some hay, he would cut across the hay patch, redesigning all the
windrows while the baling crew just scratched their heads and watched
amazed. Then he'd raked up that little bit of hay he'd missed.   He was
gentle to the wildlife, moving several baby birds and many frogs safely to
a ditch band and stopping to let mice scurry free of  "Ol' Gray's" tires.
And this littlest hay hand found so many feathers for his hat as they
floated softly on the breeze, by the end of haying he looked like he could
fly.  The fact is, though, long before that last day, the young man really
became a hay hand through and through.

After supper on his final day, the young man drew his wages from the
rancher, thanks were exchanged, and the man said, "Go on ahead now, son,
and hit the hay.  You've earned your rest.  It's late and your mom will be
picking you up after pancakes in the morning."  Well, it just so happened
that the rancher had broken a part on his bale stacker that day, so he went
about making the necessary repairs.   The candle was burning pretty low as
he struggled to make the holes line up for the last bolt.  He heard quick
footsteps approaching and then a voice that made him grin.  "Sir, I knew
you had more work to do, and I know you told me to go on to bed, but with
you still out here workin', well I sure couldn't sleep.  So I was just a
wondering...can I maybe hold that flashlight for you?"

The Pearson Angus Ranch is located approximately 2 miles northwest of Daniel, and 11 miles west of Pinedale, Wyoming. Cris can be reached by e-mail at: cowgirl@wyoming.com.

Copyrights: Photos and page text content copyrighted, Cris Paravicini, 2000. No part may be reproduced without permission of the author/photographer. Page graphics copyrighted, Pinedale Online, 2000.

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