Labor Day on the Farm

Edgar's picture

Labor Day was created by Unions to recognize the American Worker. It did not include ranching and farming; if they did it would destroy the ability of a farmer to get a loan. If a farmer included the cost of his daily labor on a financial statement, no banker could find a way to show a profit. But things have changed. ‘Haying’ used to be a full time job for teens in the summer. Tossing bales onto a flat-bed, stacking them on the truck, hauling them back to the hay yard or the barn, throwing bales off and restacking them. It was always hot, sticky, scratchy, sweaty and hard. But if you were on the football team in high school you’d finish the last cutting with money in the bank and muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger! Oh, and the suntan was free.

Fast forward to today. Teenagers in farm communities now have to go to the gym all summer to get in shape. Because one farmer with a round baler, a self-propelled inline bale wrapper, and a tractor with a bale spear can do the work of full teenage hayin’ crew in half the time. One of the most labor- intensive chores on the ranch is building fence. I worked for a big outfit that had several large ranches with miles of fence. We had a fourman crew. They would set the corners and the brace posts with posthole diggers and tamping bars. The roll of barbwire would be strung out, carried by two men often walking for miles when the country was too rough to drive along the fence line. Then the wire was stretched and the steel posts were driven in the ground with 15-pound post pounder every 20 or so feet. Stays and clips were spun on to finish. Sometimes they could do a mile a day.



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