3/14/2014 (1984)

Happy Birthday Jeff Skjelver: Rugby, ND
    Skjelver, Jeff 1984
Making Hay
Reply from Dick Johnson (’66):  Dunseith, ND
Gary and Friends,

The stories of making hay sure bring back the memories.  When my
grandpa used a buck rake and ‘overshot stacker’,  I was too young to
help.  When he got the Farmhand loader in about ’54 and mounted it on
his B John Deere,  the overshot was parked for good. Eventually I was
old enough to be the guy in the stack leveling and packing the hay with
a pitchfork.  The old B was a narrow front tractor and MANY times when
he was bringing the load up,  it would start to tip over and he would
have to drop the load to avoid tipping the tractor on it’s side.  It
didn’t always work either and then we had to pull the tractor back over
onto both rear wheels by hooking on with another tractor.  It still
seemed much easier than the overshot stacker. This was how the hay was
put up until Grandpa died in ’65.  That’s when my dad got the idea we
should have a square baler.  To me, that was the most hated machine that
ever was used on this place!  Most people call the small bales ‘idiot
cubes’ and I totally agree.  First you have to slowly bale them, then
hand pick and load them,  then hand unload in a stack, then hand feed
them to cattle.  The bales weigh about 70-80 pound each so it’s just a
mean job.  We also had a ‘bale skid’ behind the baler and had one guy
(guess who?) stooking the bales in piles of 11 and sliding the pile off
by using a bar that I would stick in the ground.  I remember every hot
miserable day out baling thinking that as soon as I was old enough to
leave this place,  I would NEVER look back. Well,  I never left!  When
Dad got the job starting music programs for the Turtle Mt. School
Division schools in Manitoba,  he asked if I would want to do the
farming for a year or so on my own while he concentrated his time on his
new position?  I hadn’t had a teaching job offer yet so I agreed.  We
had seeded quite a few more acres to alfalfa hay the year before and the
thought of well over 15,000 square bales nearly made me sick. I already
was having back problems from a bulged disc and I could only imagine
what was coming. I dug out Grandpa’s old hay sweep for the Farmhand
loader ,  which we had mounted on a better tractor, and I put new teeth
in it and had it mounted on the loader one day when Dad came driving
in.  I saw this weird look on his face as he drove past.  He came
walking down to the shop and asked,  “What in the heck are you doing?”
I simply said, “I’m NOT baling and hauling any more DAMN square bales!”
He had to let that soak in for a few minutes but didn’t say another
word.  I put up 40 hay stacks by myself that summer and actually kind of
enjoyed it.  I didn’t have a man in the stacks so they were not always
perfect ‘bread loaf’ haystacks but as my neighbor Jack Peterson jokingly
said,  “I never saw a cow look a stack over before starting to eat it,
so who cares what they look like?”  Within a couple years we got a
Haybuster Stacker and then got the first of several big round balers
which have basically become the mainstay of modern hay production.
Before I rented out some of the farmland, we were up to 2200-2300 big
round bales each year.  By weight comparison,  there are about 18 small
square bales in ONE big round bale.  If you do the math on that one,  it
would put a good man in an early grave trying to handle that many square
bales.  I don’t lift anything now as the bales weigh too much to even
think about, around 1200-1400 lbs, so the hardest part is to pull a
hydraulic control lever on a loader in an air conditioned tractor cab.
That, my friends, is my idea of progress!  Once when a bunch of us were
discussing which was the best way to put up hay,  my good friend Bill
Peterson said,  “Pitch it up and then you’ll KNOW it’s up.”  No truer
words were ever spoken. I’m attaching a picture of Grandpa Hans Johnson
taken in ’54 with his ‘new’ Farmhand loader on the old 1937 B John
Deere.  Modern equipment in 1954. Thanks Gary!


Johnson, Dick 1984
Blog (48) posted on March 18, 2008
From Dick Johnson (68):
Gary and Friends

For many years Joe Morinville ran a grocery store on Main
street in Dunseith. For part of that time, my grandmother
Myrtle Olson work there as a clerk. I used to help her on
Saturdays carrying out bags of groceries for customers. One
Saturday one of our local guys who drank too much {about
everyday} came in to buy some groceries. He was loaded to the
gills and was staggering and mumbling as he went about his
shopping. After we put his goods into a paper sack, he grabbed
it and headed for the door. When he reached for the door handle
he passed out and fell over backwards onto the floor, spilling
his bag all over. I was about ten years old and didn’t know
what this was all about! Grandma mumbled something and said “we
can’t leave him here, he’s blocking the door.” She told me to
grab his feet and she grabbed his arms and we tried to drag him
out the back door. He was too heavy and we only drug him a
short distance. About that time a delivery man came in the back
door and said ” is he dead?” Grandma said “no he’s drunk!” The
guy asked where we were trying to drag him. She said “outside
in the back” to which he said “hold the door!” He was a big guy
and he dragged the guy  out and set him up against the back
wall of the store. I picked up his groceries and set the bag in
his lap and went back inside. I went out to the back several
times to see if he was still there and one time when I looked
out he was gone! ONLY IN OLD DUNSEITH !!

Again, thanks Gary!!


From Neola Kofoid Garbe (Gary Stokes’ Cousin):
Dunseith News Class of 68 1984 Class of 68 1984-1