We are smack dab, right in the middle of hay season and this past week has been one of the best weeks to hay in recent memory. The hay is just perfect in its maturity, the conditions are right, and I am baling up some of the best brome hay I have ever baled. Life is good. We are rolling through the hay, and the cows will be happy this winter. Well, if you know me well enough, you know that the other shoe is about to drop.
Sunday, I had planned to bale the hay I had mowed and raked and then quit and check cows the rest of the night. Generally, I do not like to work on Sunday, but hay and harvest seasons are the exceptions to the rule. I did not have much to bale and if I had waited it would be too dry on Monday.
I was nearly done and about to head home when I got a call from a neighbor. He had some bad luck. He had a few acres of hay that needed to be baled and wanted to know if I could help. I have to admit that it was nice to be on the other end for once. It seems like I am always asking for help and it was nice to be able to help someone else for a change. The hay was baling perfectly. Even with the added acres, I was still on track to have time to check my cows. Life was good.
I finished my hay, fueled up and drove up to the neighbor’s field. I started down through the field when it happened maybe a couple hundred yards in. I heard the bang, felt the jerk and looked back just in time to see the baler separate from the tractor. My reflexes are not very good, but it did not take me long to stop. I climbed out of the tractor while the dust was still clearing to assess the damage. It was probably not good.
The drawbar on my tractor had broken. I have had my share of breakdowns over the years, but this was a new one on me. I turned my attention to my baler and looked over the wreckage. I was expecting to find broke hoses, cords and maybe even a bent hitch. Just for a fleeting moment, I wished I had been selfish and not offered to help. I had a lot of hay to bale and now I was sunk.
In the meantime, my neighbor had seen things were not right and had come to my aid. We both looked the situation over while he apologized profusely. Somehow everything had just come unhooked and had not broken. The only damage beside the drawbar I could find was the plastic around the monitor cord. Changing the drawbar out was just a simple pin and would take only five minutes or so. The monitor cord would also not be hard to fix. It looked like I had come out of this as well as could be expected. That is when my neighbor noticed something.
“That doesn’t look right,” he said as he pointed at my right rear tire. Sure enough, I was missing several bolts that held it on to the rim and others were loose. My back tire was held on by two bolts. The tire had not had any vibrations, wobble, or anything to make me think there was anything wrong. However, the realization hit me, if those two bolts would have given out, things would have been a lot worse. At that point I told my neighbor that he sure did not have anything to apologize for, he might have saved my life.
If the drawbar had not broken at that very moment, I might not have noticed the bolts until it was too late. Depending on the situation, it might have been very bad. It’s funny how fast we can go through a range of emotions. I went from being glad to help someone who surely would have pitched in and helped me if I had needed it to upset about my bad luck, to instantly knowing how lucky I was and grateful that things had worked out like they did.
It is a message our messed-up world should hear now. By trying to help someone out, I probably saved my own life. That is an interesting thought. Maybe by helping another human being, we are not only benefiting that person but we, ourselves, are also gaining. It probably does not always work out that way, but I bet we would all be surprised if we saw just how much better the world is when we take care of one another. I know I got that message last Sunday.