• It’s All About Hay, Or Is It?

    Posted on February 16th, 2009 Arlene 4 comments

    Arlene on "horse"I was out of town for a few days. In my absence, I had made preparation for moving sixty bales of alfalfa and grass hay from the covered stack outside into the barn. With the escalating prices of hay from $15-$22 per bale, I had been motivated during the summer months to buy 240 bales at a much more reasonable price. I was a novice at buying, delivering, stacking, and covering hay. But, to make up for my lack of experience, I had done extensive research and met with ranchers who generously shared their knowledge and expertise on storing hay. 

    Whenever I gazed at that huge covered stack of hay, I was delighted with my accomplishment and felt secure in having enough hay to feed my horses over the cold wet winter months and through the remainder of the year too.

    “The hay is ruined. There was a tear in the tarp topside and water seeped down and all the bales appear to be moldy.”

    Those were the words I heard on the other end of the telephone call from my mom.  I was dumfounded and heartsick. How could this have happened?  I could not use the moldy hay, as it could sicken my horses, and they could even die from eating it. The hay was now worthless to me.

    And then the “if only’s” began — if only I would have overlapped the tarps, or gotten a stronger tarp, or built an overhang, or never gotten into horses. . . .

    I was surprised at my deep sense of grief, not just about the loss of money, but the tremendous amount of time, energy and research I had spent.  All wasted, I thought.

    Lord why did you let this happen? There has to be something good that can come of this (Romans 8:28)? How do these dots connect in my life? After some tears, reflection, and insight I realized…

    The hay experience had been a catalyst for an education in another arena of my life. My stack was tiny compared to the farmers and ranches who had lost thousands of bales of hay due to inclement weather.  I had a new understanding and compassion of their tremendous loss.

    Also, in my search for a hay grower, I had reconnected with my friend, a superintendent of schools, who introduced me to Tom, a hay grower in her area who graciously fit me in his list of long-term clients.

    And Jerry, the hay deliveryman, knew everything about hay, all kinds of hay. He willingly met with me to see photos on my computer so I would know where and how to stack the hay. He gave me an education that couldn’t be beat by the Internet or books. 

    I was even out of the country the day the hay arrived, but my support team, Jose, Carol, Manuel, Cindy, and my mom, met Jerry in his huge semi and so the delivery, stacking and tarping went flawlessly.

    Before the weather changed and the wind and rain swept our area, Jose, my faithful helper, had walked on the 18-foot stack checking the security of the covering.  After one terrible windstorm, he retied the ropes holding the tarp even more securely.  and yet, with all these precautions, a very small tear, no bigger than a dinner plate, in the middle of that 100-foot tarp allowed water to seep through and ruin almost all 240 bales of hay.

    Application to life on the trail — sometimes we are moving along in life taking precautions, assuming relationships are intact, pursuing our goals. Then an unexpected event happens.  It sometimes comes from the words of our doctor at a routine checkup, or a telephone call from the kid’s school, or our vet, or our boss, or our spouse.  Sometimes the words are almost insurmountable; other times just a speedbump.  Nevertheless, recovery is up to us.

    In this New Year, I want to be more alert to my surroundings. I want to listen more and talk less; I want to be totally in the moment I am living.  Of course, there will always be the unexpected, but this year, I want to practice perseverance in learning from my mistakes.  I want to learn the lesson and then move forward with grace and integrity.  

    Until next time….. see you on the trail….


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