A few years ago, my wife and I seriously considered moving our cattle operation to Wyoming. We had both fallen in love with the beauty of that state and had found the people to be as great as the area, but I didn’t want to be that guy. You know…the guy that moves in and doesn’t know how to farm like the locals, and becomes the main topic of conversation at the coffee shop. Well…
Phil purchased a farm here about three years ago. He relocated from another country halfway around the world, owns a small manufacturing plant in a nearby town, is married to a medical doctor, and by all accounts is very successful. But, more than anything else, Phil wants to be a farmer.
He recently bought my old square baler and on the day I delivered it, I told him that I would come over and teach him how to use it the first time, when he had hay ready to bale. He was appreciative of the offer, but he assured me that the engineer that worked for his company could figure things out without bothering me.
“Unless your engineer has operated a square baler, before,” I told him, “you better call me before you start baling.”
My phone rang at 7 p.m., one evening last week. It was Phil, and he and his engineer were ready to start baling. When I drove up a few minutes later, I saw the tractor and baler parked in the middle of the field, with cattle and horses milling around the machine and throughout the field. I informed him that he should probably keep the animals out of the hayfield until it was baled and in the barn. As a matter of fact, I had to shoo away two horses that were licking on the knotters as I tried to clear them of debris.
I felt the hay in the windrow and instantly knew that the hay was not nearly dry enough to bale at that point, and thusly informed Phil that he needed to wait another day (or maybe two) before it could be safely baled. “But it’s supposed to rain tomorrow,” Phil protested.
“I know, but it will rot in the barn if you try to bale it while it’s this damp,” I responded.
At this point, I should explain that Phil’s limited understanding of English is exceeded only by my inability to speak proper English. Therefore, we communicated a lot by gestures, pantomimes and pointing. I think he finally understood, but he was adamant that we bale at least a couple of bales for him and his engineer to observe, so I proceeded to thread the needles as they watched.
Phil was to drive the tractor, but I had no idea of which way to tell him to go. The hay was raked, but not in a circular fashion around the field, nor linear either. It was just…well…er… raked.
I had him shut down the operation after the first bale came out. It weighed well over a 100 pounds and neither of us could lift it alone. “Too wet.”
Later that week, after the hay was dry enough, Phil and his engineer finished the job and he texted me pictures of the bales in the barn, obviously proud of his accomplishment.
I congratulated him on his work, pleased that the old baler had performed for him. I then sat back and said to myself, “I’m so happy I didn’t move to Wyoming.”


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