Friday, June 30, 2017


When I arrived home on Monday evening, June 19, from The Trip That Almost Didn't Happen, neighbor Paul had just started cutting the tall grass in our llama field. Johnny was helping with Paul's equipment (which usually breaks down) as he was going to take over the next day to cut our hay fields himself, with Paul's mower.

The weather report was for no rain for at least ten days so we were not yet hysterical about getting the hay in. Johnny cut our fields on Tuesday, plus the tall grass in the orchard, behind the machine shed and even along the driveway by the pond. Turn Johnny loose with a hay mower and everything gets cut down.

I worked in the neglected garden.

On Wednesday, I hiked at Road's End and to Cliff Creek Falls for Black Oystercatcher monitoring... and to escape the heat. It was lovely on top of The Thumb at Road's End, but the wind was starting to gust when I came down... just as a group of young people were climbing up.

At a tree within sight of the top was a sign saying "I DO" with an arrow pointing to the top of The Thumb and an empty box below with hammer and nails. It had not been there on my way up. More signs were farther down the trail, "Keep Going", and one I finally took a photo of: "Almost There".

Then one of the young men from the top came up behind me, barefoot, slipping in the mud, with the empty box. I said, "Oh, I only took a photo of one of your signs!" thinking he was taking them down, although if I had looked in his box, I would have noticed it was still empty.

"I just hope they stay up until the ceremony," he replied.

"Is someone getting married up there?" I asked.

"Yes, I am," he answered. I offered my congratulations and followed him down the trail. When I arrived at the trailhead, I saw another sign that had not been there on my way up. "Wedding" with an arrow.

In all my years of hiking The Thumb, that is the first wedding I've almost been a part of.

At my next site, Cliff Creek Falls, the Oystercatchers were on vacation somewhere else, while seals lolled about on their rocks.

On the way out, I met the herd of elk I usually see in that spot.

 Meanwhile, back home in the hot sun, Johnny spent the day working on his "free" rake. Another neighbor had loaned Johnny the rake that "worked last time it was used"... which may have been half a century ago from the looks of it. But another neighbor broke an essential piece when bringing it to our place. Other parts were broken or missing and the whole thing was a rusted mess. It was going to cost a bundle to fix... so the neighbor gave it to Johnny.

$600 and many, many hours of Johnny's labor later, it was usable, much to everyone's surprise... including Johnny's. I wish I'd taken a "before" photo... just imagine any piece of rusted junky farm machinery. Johnny cleaned it up and repainted it bright white and red, the original International Harvester colors.

On Thursday, in more record-breaking heat, Johnny raked hay with the newly resurrected rake.

 I worked in the garden and unpacked from my trip. It stays cool inside our house. I do not do heat. Friday was even worse. Johnny did more repairs and adjustments on the rake and raked some more.

Saturday hit 105, I think. Johnny helped a friend build an outhouse, then he came home and helped neighbor Paul bale hay. Paul's baler needs lots of help. Johnny was very hot and tired that night.

 I hauled a horse from one friend's place to another that afternoon, getting stuck in traffic with folks who were all trying to escape the heat by driving (at 2 mph) to the cool coast. The horse and I survived.

On Sunday it was some cooler so I mowed the lawn while Johnny went back to help with his friend's outhouse construction project. In the afternoon, we hauled hay, mostly because I am always paranoid about moving bales into barns before they get wet or sun-bleached or dried out or whatever. Johnny was not worried about getting it into the barn because the weather person still said no rain for another ten days. It was hot work and we left one load on the truck without unloading it Sunday night because we were worn out. There were several more loads to be picked up out of the fields but we still had, reportedly, ten more days, at least, of no rain.

At 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning, I woke to the sound of loud, rolling thunder... close thunder. We leaped out of bed and tore outside to move hay bales into the barn.  Constant thunder and lightning kept us motivated. Johnny had seen one drop of rain on his windshield and I had felt one on my face. We worked furiously. I took the EZ Go into the orchard to load that hay as I didn't think the hay wagon would make it safely across the dam.

But before picking up the last hay bale, Johnny had to jump it. That's his tradition. When he can no longer jump a bale, he says, he'll no longer put up hay. He actually  jumped this one about eight times because I could never catch him in the air.

Although we had been sure the dark and thundering clouds overhead were going to open up and drench our hay any moment, they never did. We finished loading and unloading the last of our 2017 hay, the biggest crop, Johnny thinks, that we have ever had, at 3 p.m. Without rain.

Just as we were finishing, neighbor Irv came down to ask what was happening with our hay... did it get wet?... he had a downpour at his place... one half mile up the hill from us. We missed getting our hay soaked by, well, half a mile.

And so haysteria is over for us... but now I'm stressing over no rain to fill the rain barrels and the pond from which I water the garden. Weather people say there's no rain in sight for the next ten days at least...


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