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
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
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