Your Kids Will Remember

8 Feb


By: Tom Heck

Your Kids Will Remember

This past summer I went out early one morning to crimp the hay in my upper hay field next to my cow pasture. It was a beautiful morning with the sun rising in the east and a gorgeous blue sky. I always like to pray and fellowship with my Lord at this time. The birds were active, chirping and singing out praises to their Creator. The barn swallows were swooping down close to my hay field to catch bugs and insects, then climbing back up in altitude before making another dive. They are very entertaining to watch – better than TV most of the time!

I will go out and cut hay one day; and then early on the morning of the second day, I will go out and crimp it. What is “crimping,” you ask? The hay when I cut it on the first day is green, full of moisture and heavy. I usually cut it so that I leave about four inches of stubble. The fresh-cut hay lies on top of the stubble, which is good, so that the air can move through it and help to dry it, along with the sunshine. After cutting it on the first day, as it starts to dry, that force called “gravity” starts to pull it down into the stubble. By the second day, it’s really down in the stubble so that the air hardly moves through it any more to dry it. This is where the hay crimper comes in. This machine, which I hook behind my tractor, has two rolls in it about six feet long. As I drive down the swath of hay, the crimper picks the hay up out of the stubble, gently crushing the stems of hay between the rolls, which helps it dry even more, and then gently lays it back on top of the stubble to finish drying. It makes a world of difference.

Then the next day I can go out, rake it up, and bale it for our cattle. We get extremely high quality hay for our cattle this way. If we don’t crimp our hay, it won’t dry near as well. We would end up with moldy hay, which the cattle don’t like, and which is somewhat toxic to them. On rare occasions I have seen farmers put up really tough hay that in time started on fire and ended up burning their barns down. Needless to say, I’m a firm believer in crimping hay.

On this particular morning, I had the whole field crimped, except the one last swath of hay, when it happened. I heard a bang and looked back to see that the drive shaft on the crimper had busted. It not only busted, but it got ripped up really bad. I picked up some parts and headed for home. I was thankful that I basically had the whole field crimped, but very disappointed over my machine. When I got home I told my family I thought it was probably the end of the line for the crimper. My hay crimper is really old – about 50 years old. They quit making them about 45 years ago. I do have a hay tedder, which is much newer, and it basically does the same job, but it just doesn’t do as good of a job. Sometimes the old stuff is the best.

My son, Joshua, was greatly disappointed that it might be “curtains” for our old hay crimper. He kept on me over the next couple of weeks asking me if there wasn’t some way we could fix it up. I told him I didn’t know – we would have to see. So we made it a matter of prayer. Well, we finished haying, and I started to check into getting it fixed. As I said before, the drive line had gotten busted up really bad and needed a number of parts to fix it. I went to the implement dealership and they were able to pull the machine up on their computer. The computer told us there were no longer any parts available for it and that the company had listed the machine as “obsolete.” It wasn’t looking good for our crimper, but my kids kept saying, “Isn’t there some way we can fix it, Dad?”

Well, we found a couple old crimpers that had been retired, but they were different brands and the parts just would not interchange. My kids still didn’t want to give up on it, so after quite a number of phone calls, we came up with a possible solution. We special-ordered some parts in through a machinery parts house and then had to take them to a blacksmith shop and get them machined just right. Also I was able to get one old part off of a junked-out crimper that my brother, Paul, had. Then it came time to put it together.

It didn’t go too good, with old shields, bolts, bearings, and different parts from many different sources. But after many days and hours of work on it with my kids, we got it all together and working excellently, as good as new. Our kids, along with their parents, were greatly elated over it.

Afterwards when I was talking to my friend, Jeff, telling him the whole story, he made a comment which really surprised me. He said, “The biggest thing is, your kids will remember how you worked with them and had all the fun of fixing that machine up every time they see that machine in the years to come.” I replied, “I never thought about that, but I guess you’re probably right.” And right he is! My kids, along with myself, will remember it for years to come and take great satisfaction in it. We also will remember that God answers our prayers.

There’s real satisfaction in a difficult, challenging job well done. So, parents, do challenging things with your kids. It will be good for all of you. You will all learn from it and your kids will remember it for years to come. We are very glad we got our old hay crimper fixed, and so are our cattle. They like high-quality delicious hay to eat.