A couple of years before my dad passed away, he was helping me make hay by doing all the raking for me that summer. I was teaching a summer school class at 7:00 a.m. every morning, but was able to be home shortly after noon in order to do the baling and hauling. On one particular day, I made it home at my usual time and noticed that dad had raked the field all one way. With a small, three-point, side-delivery rake, it was dad’s usual method to rake the entire field in one direction while allowing it to dry a little more before he finished by raking it the opposite way.
By 1:00 p.m., I had eaten a bite, hooked up the equipment and was ready to begin the chore of baling. But, as I looked down the road to the hayfield, I could see that dad had still not finished raking. I drove the tractor and baler down the road and into his driveway. As I entered my parent’s house, I could see dad relaxing on his recliner and smoking his pipe. “Are you okay?” I asked him.
“Sure,” he answered, rather surprised, “Why?”
“Was the hay too damp to finish raking?”
Dad looked at me with a puzzled look and said, “I finished. I’ve been waiting on you for over an hour.”
“No, dad,” I tried to say without any condescension. “You’ve just raked it one way.”
The look on his face wrenched my heart.
“I don’t have enough sense to farm anymore,” he replied in a sighing breath. “I’m through.”
And he was. Dad never helped anymore with the stuff that had been his life for all of his 81 years.
I remembered this story last week as I readied my cattle squeeze chute for yet another spring of processing cows and calves. I’ve owned this particular chute for about 15 years. It’s one of those heavy-duty models that one can put wheels on to make it easy to transport. Each year, I put the wheels on it and take them off at least six times and sometimes more often. So, at a minimum, I’ve made it mobile ninety-some times. The brochure said it was a one-man job and it usually is, but I think they were talking about a much younger and more physically fit man than me. I dreaded the task of leveraging one tire at a time to raise the chute off the ground and ready for transport. This year, however, as I put the first wheel on one side, it seemed much easier to raise than ever before. Had I become stronger over the winter? I concluded it was more likely related to the extra weight I’m carrying. The second wheel went on just as easy, but when I backed up to the chute to hitch it onto my truck, the tongue would only raise about a foot off the ground before the tail-end would hit the ground. Looking back, I then realized I had put the wheels on… upside down. No wonder it was so easy since I only had to raise the 1,500 lb. chute about six inches instead of the normal 18 inches. It took me another hour to take the wheels off and put them on correctly. The proper way was just as strenuous as I had remembered.
My wife knew something was wrong when I got home that evening. “Maybe I don’t have sense enough to farm anymore,” I stated and related the squeeze chute saga. 
Attentively, my wife listened. She could tell that I had really been affected by the day’s event and she also knew how it had hurt me to see my dad admit to his failing.
“What you’ve got to remember, Jerry,” my wife began, “is that when your dad forgot to finish raking the hay, he was 81 and had never done anything like that in his life up until that time. You’re only 58 and I see you do something as silly as this almost every week.”
Jerry Crownover is a farmer and former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University. He is a native of Baxter County, Arkansas, and an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry about his books, or to arrange speaking engagements, you may contact him by calling 1-866-532-1960 or visiting ozarksfn.com and clicking on ‘Contact Us.’


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