Cleaning out the hay wagons was one of the earliest chores I remember helping my older sister with. This happened after the large, four-wheeled trailers had had their wooden sides attached and had been rented out for something called a “hayride.”
Later I’d come to understand the allure of these evening rides to a country picnic and bonfire and an even later and much more quiet ride snuggled in the hay on the ride home. At the time I only knew to be careful with the pitch fork, which was longer than I was tall, while climbing over what to me were the towering sides of the trailers.
My sister made sure I would give the forkful of dry straw a good shake before tossing it over the side of the wagon. The goal was to toss the straw with enough gumption so it landed in the property’s barrow pit instead of right next to the trailer.
Dad, and later we kids, would always push the wagon next to a borrow pit before cleaning it out. Later, when conditions were right, Dad would burn the straw, cleaned the pit while ridding ourselves of the leftovers of satisfied customers.
And just why had my sister made sure I gave the pitchfork full of straw a good shake before tossing it over the side of the trailer? Now that you’ve asked, I’ll tell you the anticipated joy we kids felt when someone had rented the trailer for a “hayride.”
It seems there were folks on those hayrides who did not pay attention to what was in their pockets. As I said, I would eventually learn about those distractions. But when we were armed with pitchforks we kids discovered there was always some change falling out of that straw—sometimes even a whole dollar’s worth!
Our folks never had to coax us into cleaning up after someone else’s hayride.