It turns out that a 14-foot wide load of hay will not fit through a 12-foot wide door.
I had only a few more bales of hay to haul when a good friend, Joe, came out from Memphis to visit for a week. Joe and my husband, Steve, had been friends for more than 30 years so Joe wanted to help at the ranch.
When the thermometer plummeted to the single digits, I handed snow boots and hand warmers to Joe, we hooked up the flatbed trailer and he followed me to the neighbor’s hay field.
My plan was to load 12 bales on the flatbed, but when the tractor noted the heft of a single bale, I decided to error on the side of caution and load only two rows of four.
The trailer tires squished under the load as I guided the ¾-ton Dodge over gravel roads on the way to town. I needed to weigh this load so I would know how much to pay the neighbor. The local grain elevator manager, Scott, has always generously allowed people to use the scales even if they don’t raise grain. I pointed the truck in his direction.
Joe and I pulled in to the elevator lot just as a loaded grain truck pulled out.
“We timed that right,” we smiled to one another. “No line.”
As I eased the Dodge and the trailer on to the scale, I crowded the passenger side of the scale house so I could avoid knocking over a ladder standing on the edge of the scale. About half way in, I felt resistance.
At that very moment, Scott appeared next to my window. He was not smiling.
Suddenly, men were swarming my trailer like mice after a bread crumb. I had no idea the grain elevator was the social center of Conrad.
Like any rancher, I pushed harder on the accelerator. No budge.
“You’re not going to make it,” Scott said. “Why didn’t you use the scale north of town that doesn’t have a building around it?”
“Uhh, because I didn’t think of that,” I stammered.
The interior scale was so crowded that I crawled under my trailer to take a look at the other side of my load. The edge of a bale rubbed against the elevator fuse box.
“I’m not going to tear that box out. It will be fine,” I said.
“Go around and look at the back.” Scott managed to stay calm.
The last two bales on the passenger side overlapped a steel support beam of the elevator door by more than a foot.
I couldn’t pull forward. Backing out would tear out the fuse box.
One farmer grinned with a distinct twinkle in his eye. Two farmers disappeared. Scott managed to avoid scowling. Joe circled the truck and trailer in a vain attempt to lay low.
“You better call Chris across the street and get him to unload that hay with his skid steer,” Scott suggested.
That seemed like the best idea to me.
“What were you thinking, Lisa?” Chris laughed out loud as soon as he arrived.
Chris went to work like lightning on steroids. He pulled off the offending three back bales, I weighed the remaining five and circled back so he could reload my trailer.
The twinkling-eyed farmer continued to chuckle. Another farmer showed up with a load of grain to weigh, assessed the scene and tried to hide his smile. Apparently, I had just joined a fraternity of those who narrowly avoided toppling the grain elevator.
The back bales hung over the end of the trailer a bit, but Joe and I strapped them on and headed for home. I noticed that any truck behind us either stayed far back or passed us quickly.
I spun the tires on the snowy hill to the hay lot, pulled through the gate and Joe loosened the strap. The back bales bounced to the ground.
I unloaded the trailer in time to zip back to the scale before dark.
Most of my bales weigh about 1400 pounds. These topped the scales at 1700 pounds.
They are heavy, but they certainly lightened the mood at the social center of Conrad.
And I joined a club I never knew existed. I think Scott wants to keep fraternity membership low, but it just keeps growing.