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Baled Out

Summer '13

Rotten hay is still good for somethin’

About this time last year I was feelin’ pretty good about myself. We had just put up a couple of thousand bales of feed-quality clover and ryegrass hay, most of it in 3’x4’x8′ squares. We needed to stack this hay close to the road so the big trucks wouldn’t have to drive too far through the fields with a load. We weren’t sure just when this hay would sell, so we prepared to carry it through to fall if we had to.

We stacked this hay three bales wide, four bales tall, with around three hundred bales to a stack, so needless to say they were pretty impressive lookin’ stacks of hay to see sitting in the field. We put this hay on pallets to keep it off the ground and bought hay tarps to protect it from rain, so we had covered all our bases.

The first couple of fields we baled were off the road and out of the way, but I have to tell you, every time I drove by those stacks, my chest would swell and I got to thinkin’ it wasn’t right that I was the only one who was getting to enjoy lookin’ at my hay stacks. Others should get to enjoy them as well.

We were looking for a place to stack a bunch of this hay next to a road and we just happened to have one field on the road right across from Cross Trails Cowboy Church. I figured that, since this place was right next to the road, and, oh yeah, a road that gets traveled by a lot of people I know every week, it was a good place to haul some more of that hay and stack in those big impressive stacks. We made three big stacks in that field and man did I get a bunch of compliments. I got to look at those stacks every week and hear everyone braggin’ on our hay crop and it sure felt good!

Well, my pardner on this deal had been given a sales pitch on these new, cheaper hay tarps that were the latest thing, so we decided to save a little money and went with them. They were light weight and they could “breathe” so the hay wouldn’t mold … so they said. I spent a couple months baskin’ in the glory of this good hay crop we had made and boy did we get the rain after we had put it up. What a blessing! We had our hay crop stacked on pallets, tarped down good where everybody could see, so just let it rain on.

We got another great blessing one day when a feller from Missouri came and bought every bale we had in one deal. We signed a contract to deliver a certain amount of bales and we felt like we really hit a lick.

One day a thunderstorm blew through and blew some tarps off, so when I went to put them back on the stacks, and my great joy turned to great sorrow to find out the latest and greatest hay tarps did not shed water and we had a real disaster on our hands. The top layer of all those stacks had significant water damage and we had already sold it as feed quality hay.

I could almost hear the Lord asking me if all the pats on my back from everyone at church and all the good puffed up feelings I had about those big impressive hay stacks, put where everyone could see them, was worth over twenty thousand dollars in losses.

I was mad and upset for a while, but I got the message and stopped feeling sorry for myself and I took it as a humbling from the Lord. I confessed my pride to Him and took my medicine and asked Him to help me to know what to do. We called the man that we sold the hay to and explained our situation and he graciously told us to just send him what was good and he would not hold us to have to deliver the number of bales we agreed on. This was a huge blessing, so now all we had to do was to figure out what to do with all this damaged hay.

I milked every contact I had from East Texas to the Panhandle trying to peddle this damaged hay and came up blank. I was at a loss as to what to do, but I put my trust in the Lord and if I had to eat it because of my pride then so be it. I just quit trying to move it and thought about other things.

Now every year we run gain cattle on our production ball clover fields as well as wheat and other grains. Last fall we got some good early rains and they brought all the clover and wheat up so I started ordering cattle. We got a few loads in and it quit raining, so I figured I better cut off the trucks until it rained again. Well, it didn’t rain again for three months! I had all these gain cattle, that were supposed to be running on lush green clover and wheat, with nothing to eat. I was gettin’ worried because I almost forgot, I had several hundred bales of feed quality hay! Who cares if a quarter of each bale is rotten, three quarters are the best hay a yearling ever et. It finally rained, we fed all our rotten hay, and the cattle gained better than they ever have.

The lessons I learned from this are these: If you get puffed up with pride, God will bring you back down. However, if you humble yourself and take what you got coming, God will lift you back up and bless you beyond what you deserve.