‘Don’t be a baby’

– Wednesday Addams

When our arboreal allies let senescence and gravity do their respective jobs – by chucking their leaves to the ground – we know it’s time to go retrieve a load of clean double string straw bales. This year at the last minute I found out our usual guy decided not to put up bales. Luckily Craig’s list burped up an alternative and after two logistical phone calls we rode in the old truck up north on a partly cloudy crisp autumn day. Neither of us dared mention the last time we took  ‘ol freaky out for a ride.

That was fun.

After traveling and hour and fifteen minutes we made a final left and swung wide into the driveway. The bales were stacked 25’ tall and tarped and two men stood talking, one resting his arm on a backhoe.  The front end loader was attached to a large grappler. There was an earlier discussion;  we may have to hand-load the bales onto the truck but when we arrived we saw the tarp pulled back. The owner was a heavy set friendly man and the older gentleman was there for 15 decorative bales for the upcoming holidays. After introductions he said “well, I’ll need one of you to ride the grappler up, walk on those bales and cut the last string so we can get that tarp pulled back far enough for me to get in there to load you.” Will is not fond of heights. Not even remotely.

For those of us born before the great American castration turned the previously wild strain of generational immigrants into the fully coddled service expectant Americanus domesticus this offer is freedom to my ears. It took me back. Wow. A chance to assess all by my lonesome the inherent risk in taking up such an offer – to be fully responsible for whether I make the ride successfully or fall and break my head wide open. This is too good to be true.

My immediate response was ‘oh hell yesss I’ll do it’. Luckily the owner was still loading the older gentleman’s pickup so I had the chance to watch very attentively which parts moved and the one part that didn’t. Ever ride a horse bareback? Three point contact is all I have to say. Nobody needs me twenty feet up there yanking out a hydraulic hose in panic. I gauged my balance and reminded myself not to rely on foot support because if he slipped a gear or hit a bump the grappler would move under my feet. The ‘arm’ of the front loader becomes moot when the grappler gets that high so the 4 x 4 iron bar, my arse, and my own wee balance is it.

Did Will get a picture with me up there? Think about it. He’s a guy.

What a rush. I stepped off the square toothed (hooks down) platform (if you could call it that) onto the bales and cut the line with Will’s pocket knife. The shitty part is stepping back on the grappler while looking down, turning around and sitting on the bar with nothing to hold onto over waist height.

Later on while we were stacking straw into our silo we reflected on how that scenario never would have happened on the ‘west side’. There would have been caution signs, hard hats, release forms and ‘safety’ regulations up the ass. No wonder there’s a movement for eastern Washington to secede from its western nannied-up cousin. That place was a vertiginous ride if ever there was one. Luckily I no longer live there. I’m no longer dizzy.

As for the safety obsessed herd out there…

‘none of us is as dumb as all of us’

– demotivational posters   https://despair.com/collections/demotivators