Haying Season

It’s haying season around here.  Driving home from the doctor last week I had the windows down and could smell the fresh cut alfalfa.  It is by far one of my favorite smells.

I remember several years ago I was sent to Florida for a training in July.  I enjoyed being gone but by far, I enjoyed my drive home even better.  I had the window rolled down and could smell the fresh cut alfalfa.  I’d always known I wasn’t one who enjoyed travel but smelling the alfalfa cinched it for me.  I’d rather stay home and smell it than travel anywhere.  It’s the farm girl in me I think.

This is my favorite picture of Kramer….cutting alfalfa.  He had a love hate relationship with alfalfa.  He too loved the smell…but after that initial smell he knew it meant work.         
For those of you who are new here, Kramer is my husband and he passed away last year due to lung cancer.   He was a dedicated farmer…a workaholic who I often wondered if he was more committed to the land than to me.  I laughing say the “other woman” was the farm.  It was true….but I’m happy to say, it was an affair I learned to tolerate.

Most every year Kramer spent the 4th of July mowing hay, weather permitting, and in the following days, they harvested it…again weather permitting.  It was our routine for the 29 years Kramer worked on the farm.  I knew better than to plan for anything during that time.

As I look at the picture I can still hear the conversations we would have….I’d remind him to put on sunscreen as he always forgot and burned his bald head.  I got to the point I would buy a couple cans of sunscreen and put one at the office at the farm and one in his vehicle.  He could never remember it.  He was more concerned about the farm than himself.

He’d come home with a headache and I’d say, “Did you drink enough water?”….He drank lots but still it often wasn’t enough to prevent a headache.

He’d tell me how many loads of haylage they got from the crop and then tell me how it compared to the previous crop always analyzing it from the previous crop and comparing it to the rainfall and temperatures we had.

He was always anxious before a harvest…it was a common time someone could get hurt.  There was always the anticipation of wanting to hurry before the rain…wanting to have things set up right to make it all go more smoothly.  Over the years I got used to that and it was just part of being a farmers wife.

Back then…I didn’t always like it.  I got frustrated that we couldn’t plan things because of the rain…because of a harvest…because of the vacations of the other people at work.  I got frustrated because as I said, I did often feel like the farm was “the other woman”.  Now with him gone, I terribly miss even the bad and not so fun things about farming and would happily take back all the things I didn’t like if only I could have him back.

A couple weeks ago Craig, my son-in-law who now works at the same farm Kramer worked at, came to my house straight from work for supper.  He had been hauling manure all day and boy oh boy did he ever smell like it.  I know it sounds crazy but it brought the biggest smile to my face.  So many days of my life as a farmer’s wife included that smell.  At the time, I’d tell Kramer, “Go take a shower, I’d wait supper”.  I didn’t say that to Craig….It was perfectly fine with me to smell that smell.  It brought back the normal everyday with Kramer to me.  That’s what I miss the most with him gone…the normal every day, take it for granted, way of life I lived with Kramer as the farmer’s wife.

It’s been over a year now since he passed…5 haying seasons have come and gone.  People were right.  Grief does get easier with time…but that’s also very sad.  Kramer stays in 2019.  I get further and further away from him.   Every day the calendar rolls to the next date, I forget more about him.  I forget little quirks that used to annoy me that I’d love to experience now.  I forget what it was like to get his big bear hugs.  I forget what it was like sleeping with someone else in my bed.  I forget how to cook like he liked things and default to eating a sandwich….but haying season reminds me.  I’ve never loved the smell of alfalfa more than I do now.  It’s our time.  That smell of alfalfa is a link that keeps his memories close to me and I long for that…time will eventually take a lot of memories away from me.  I know that.  I’ve lost both of my parents and have experienced that…but time will never take away that smell of fresh cut alfalfa….and I will always be grateful for that.

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25 thoughts on “Haying Season

  1. Sally

    Jo, did you cut the sleeves off some of Kramer’s shirts for the hot weather or is that something he did himself? ((Gotta love it…)

  2. Donna T

    Jo write down his quirks and funny things he said; not only for you but also for the kids and grands! My mom was a naturally funny person! As kids we would get in trouble for making fun of her but she was funny without even trying! I wish I had written down all the things she said or did!

  3. Robby

    They say memories connected to smells or music are some of the strongest we have. Perhaps alfalfa harvest will always be a time of happy memories for you. I grew up in an agricultural area and will always unroll a car window for the smell of a fresh mown field.

  4. Ellie

    Thank you for this lovely post this morning. I wish you were close enough I could give you a big hug! No social distance.

  5. dona

    I had moved three and a half hours west from the east coast where my kids still live.
    returning home to visit after being away for months, heavy traffic on the Hampton roads bridge tunnel on
    a summer evening, oh, the smell of salt water. I think I was the only person sitting on that bridge that could smell it. I was home!!

  6. Mary E

    The smell of cut alfalfa will always be a sweet reminder for you and that’s a good thing. Our hay was cut and baled last weekend – nice!

  7. Kim J LeMere

    Just reading about the smell of fresh cut alfalfa and I can smell it and it brings back the years where we baled hay and put it in the mow. It was hard work but as my parents used to say, hard work never hurt anyone. Your words about Kramer are a wonderful tribute to the man he was and the life you shared.

  8. Janice King

    Hi Jo, the one thing that ties me to my Dad is I ( of course love) is the smell of his work shop. For me that smell is Dad. Over the years Dad was always giving me things. They were things from his work shop. One was a work box with a hinged top, it’s makes a nice coffee table. I store family memories in it. Every time the lid is opened, the smell is one memory I love.

  9. mary

    Thanks for expressing your thoughts so well. They are mine as well since I,too, lost my farmer husband many years ago. Once a farm wife, always a farm wife. Remember the good times and the smells!

  10. Norma

    Another thing I share with you! That smell of fresh cut hay is home to me. I used to spend a week in the summer at my aunt’s home in the “city”. Driving back home, we would get into the country and I could barely stand it. That smell of fresh hay hit me.I was so homesick for home. It especially reminded me of my Daddy. Then it was my husband and me getting that hay in the mow. These days it’s mostly big rounds but those memories are still there.
    Hang on to those great memories. Hugs to you today.

  11. Donna

    Traveling as we have been, we’ve passed several farms, ranches, and fields full of corn and alfalfa. I thought of you living in the middle of all of that. I also wondered if the corn came back up after that big storm. :-)
    Smelling the fresh cut hay always reminded me of my grammie’s home. She lived in the middle of farmland too. I’m happy that smells like that bring back some wonderful memories.
    Love and prayers

  12. Jill Klop

    This made me cry. So much emotion. Thank you for sharing these reminders to appreciate every day.

  13. Andi

    Hi Jo,
    We miss haying season here as well. There is just something about it that is hard to explain. The hot, sunny days, all the smells, a cold beer sitting on the end of the hay wagon after loading square bales in the barn, big family dinners after the day was done. That was my job – to feed the crew at the end of the day. memories are what we hang on to. Glad Craig can still bring home some of those things to you.

  14. Carla

    Your memories seem very strong from my perspective. My favorite smell is the smell of Lake Michigan. Always lifts my spirits.

  15. Valerie

    Thank you for sharing this. Have you ever thought about writing a book about your experience as a farm wife and later, as a farm widow? Your insights are so compelling, and the information you share is so valuable for people navigating these difficult waters.

  16. Aletha

    Jo—you sure express your feelings and emotions so well. I love the way that you describe everything. I think you have a real gift!! My heart ached for you as I read this post… My thoughts and prayers are with you.♥️

  17. Linda in NE

    As a former farm girl I agree with you about the smell of fresh-cut alfalfa, but I’m sure glad I don’t have to spend hours stacking hay or helping pick up heavy bales any more.

    I sure do hope the grief of losing someone gets better over time. Our daughter-in-law has lost a husband, their kids lost their daddy, we have lost a son, his sister lost her brother and his nieces & nephew lost a favorite uncle. It’s been almost seven months and still feels so fresh. I appreciate you being so open about losing Kramer & your family’s grief. It reassures me that while it will never be completely gone, it will get easier.

  18. MaureenHP

    For years, my husband’s career moved us from the farmlands of Illinois to other states. Driving back to Illinois in the summer, I knew I was home when I could “smell the dirt.”
    Jo, I was so touched by your post. I am so glad that you have such precious memories. God bless you.

  19. brenda

    another great thought provoking blog. i recall my great grandparents haying season because my father took us to “help” them. what a great event when finally old enough to sit on one of the horses that was pulling the ropes that pulled a large fork filled with hay to go into the upstairs window of the barn and hearing the shout to pull the other end of the rope that released the hay from that huge dangerous looking hook. Then the race to beat the rain later when it was just my father having to take care of the more modern method of dealing with baled hay. sadly no more horses either. Yes, your memories stirred some wonderful ones for this farmers daughter. my parents did the opposite and he lost the farmers wife to cancer.

  20. Jeanie S, Central Illinois

    This post was so heartfelt. Yes, Jo, I agree with the previous comments. You have a special talent for expressing your feelings well. Thanks and Hugs.

  21. Felicia Hamlin

    You are so accomplished, Jo, at expressing your thought and this entry was so lyrical. It made me think what will bring me a memory of my husband if he were gone? Maybe the fresh cut gras, yup, I think that would be it. Thank you for baring your soul to your readers, I don’t think I could do that. What is sweet Rosie up to? Take care.

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