My Favorite Summer Memory

When I was 15 my father thought it would be a great idea if I worked on a cattle ranch hauling hay… to teach me the lesson of why I should go to college. Well, I did go to college but not because hauling hay was hard work. (which it was) So, in 1958 I spent 4 glorious weeks on a cattle ranch in Modoc County near the town of Adin. Our family spent a few weeks each summer at our friends ranch… and I got an extended stay. The rancher’s wife took me to town in Alturas, and I got fitted with boots, jeans and a cowboy hat! It was Farmer’s Boot Camp for sure… they treated me as an adult and expected me to work. I learned how to do, and did, everything re: haying. I straightened and raked furrows, repaired broken bales, moved bales into rows, rode on the baler and helped fix it (seemed to break down a lot to me), worked the loader, drove a tractor and ‘bucked bales’ to load the barn.

Well, the ‘city boy’ was pretty pathetic at ‘bucking bales’ because they are damn heavy! I was the source for much amusement for the crew that summer. But, they were good guys and helped me out. I could move 1 bale while they were moving 5. I also got to feed the chickens and the pigs. I thought it was great fun and they all loved getting out of the chores.

We started at 6 a.m. and had dinner (lunch to me) at noon for 1 hour. What really cracked me up was that the rancher and all the farm hands watched soap operas while we ate lunch. All these big tough guys watching ‘All My Children’ was pretty funny. Back to work till about 7 when we had supper. Everything you ever heard about farm meals is true… lots of good home cooking.

In addition to work, of course there was play. And like most 15 year olds I was pretty much of a goof-off when I could get away with it. The rancher had a 16-year-old son who was a pal and a wild one. We hunted rabbits at night sitting on the hood of a Mercury with shotguns going through the fields to catch them in the headlights. Chased girls with snakes… never could figure out how that would get you laid (as if I would have known what to do then anyway). Rode a horse driving cattle about 3 miles to a new field and got to help with branding calves… then tried to ride them. Got to milk cows too.

My lasting remembrance of that summer came when I chipped my front tooth on a beer bottle. Of course I said it was a Coke bottle to my folks. I had a patch on my tooth for 25 years before getting a new tooth. I think the thing about that summer that really made it special was that for the first time in my life I was on my own and for 1 month I was kind of an adult.


I thought to start the New Year off, and for my first yeah write entry, I would post the first blog I wrote.  The Plinky Prompt got me going.  I wrote a few more ‘Plinkys’ as I found my way in the blogging world.


22 responses

  1. 😀 + :mrgreen: = 😀 Love the theme also, ted, I considered using it

  2. Love this Ted!! Funny about the soap operas. Very engaging!!

  3. I have very similar memories. My grandparents were farmers and summers always included haying and threshing. When I was very young and a city kid it was something I looked forward to. As I got older, I still looked forward to it, but the reasons changed. A test of strength was no longer so attractive….it was the boys…and the better they looked, the weaker I got and the more I needed their help! Ah youth.

    1. Maybe you should be blogging too!!! I would kink of like to find a blog format to allow ‘contributor blogs’ on like topics… that was good!

  4. I thought you were older when you got to stay in Modoc.I remember Mom and Dad being worried you’d set the barn on fire sneaking a smoke! Edna’s biscuits were to die for, and you got them everyday, you lucky.

    1. HaHaHa… really? We never did smoke that I can recall. Now that I think of it… I think I was 16.
      The summer I was 15 was when I was grounded for stealing George’s Chrysler Imperial and crashing it.

  5. Pssst…you get laid when you chase girls with the Mercury! :p

    1. Sound advice…

  6. WordsFallFromMyEyes | Reply

    I never imagined hay could be so heavy. You’ve got me thinking now – how much does a bale weigh??

    I love looking at people’s first blog posts!

    1. I don’t know, but for a skinny city kid, it was heavy as hell.

  7. Thanks for sharing this link with me, Ted! That sounds like a great time. Hard work indeed. When I got out of college there was a time I was unsure of what I wanted to do. I almost move up to my step-dad’s ranch in the bay area to help care for the horses while I tried to figure it all out. I guess in some ways that would have been sort of the same thing. I would have been the city girl completely unaccustomed to that kind of hard work. But I thought I was ready for it. Doubt that I really was though. Guess we will never know now. Loved reading your story and picturing it all in my head.

  8. […] To read a story about this ranch… Ted Book ~ My Favorite Summer Memory […]

  9. Reblogged this on TedBook and commented:

    To start off the 2014… my first blog post on WordPress… and an entry in a new writing group for me…’ yeah write’!

  10. Great memory to write about, Ted! But I wonder how long ago it was that you wrote this, because it doesn’t read in the style of how you now write. Your pieces that I’ve read over the past year have been much more descriptive and refined. Your style now easily captures a noir essence. Still, this farm piece has an honest innocence to it that is infectious. I liked the image of your 15 year-old self hauling one bale to the other guys’ five, and the whole chasing girls with snakes bit. Made me smile.

  11. Cowboys and All My Children? The first thing in my mind was Brokeback Mountain.
    I do love that some things never change. Boys in every decade think that chasing girls with snakes & bugs will some how get the girl. That image really made me smile! Happy New Year Ted!

  12. Hah. Back in the Navy, I always seemed to find the Shore Patrol folks watching soaps on their downtime, too!

  13. Welcome Yeah Write. It’s good to have more testosterone joining the group. If you’d like, I can explain what to do if a girl is attracted to your snake.

  14. Cool memories, Ted. Even though it sounds like a ton of hard work, I kind of want to sign up for Farmer’s Boot Camp.
    Maybe I should just start with buying a pair of cool boots.

  15. Many of us older ones can boast experiences with hay as young men. Now many of the farmers deal with the round bales and the hay experience is so different. Not to mention the lack of available labor since the current generation is not willing to get their hands dirty.

  16. Nothing like hard work to mold a great mind! Great story Ted!

  17. I enjoyed your post so much, Ted! Brings back so many memories of my own ranching past, including how every summer I got hooked on All My Children and had to wait for the next summer to catch up. What a great experience!

    1. It was really something, Charli. I still remember the farmhouse with perfect clarity, even though I am ancient and have forgotten most things. They were hunters, as were country people, hunters to put food on the table. There was a bearskin hanging on the wall, with the ferocious head intact, Antlers all over and other animal skins, there was a mountain lion even. I can still feel the root cellar where they stored vegetables and milk. so cold, I loved to go in there. One time we were having Elk for supper, there was fat on the meat and I said “I love fat”, they all looked at me. Do you know what happens when you eat elk fat?

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