We’ve got “hay reserves” in back of the barn that consist of a couple-three bales of hay tipped up on their ends and leaned neatly against the side of the building.
Last week I was walking my horse behind the barn. He decided to grab a mouthful of alfalfa off the bale. You could hardly expect him to pass it by, any more than you could expect a cop car not to stop for a guy on the corner holding out a fresh cup of Starbucks.
Unfortunately, my horse decided to grab his mouthful from the BOTTOM of the bale. This is like doing the old yanking the tablecloth out from under the dishes trick and not yanking fast enough. The alfalfa bale toppled.
It fell sideways into the bale of oat hay. Alfalfa is heavy. Oat hay is light. It was like the Budweiser Clydesdales falling into the Taco Bell Chihuahua. The oat bale crashed to the ground and the flakes splattered like a bag of ice cubes heaved off the back of a speeding truck onto the highway. Hay slid everywhere.
Picking up the alfalfa flakes was easy. Alfalfa flakes are pressed together harder than particleboard. You’d have better luck disemboweling yourself than getting alfalfa off the flake. Really, you could fire alfalfa flakes out of a cannon, take out a small town, and the flakes would still be perfectly formed when they landed on the other side. They’re nature’s perfect bricks. If the ancient Egyptians had used alfalfa brick instead of bedrock, the Sphinx would still have its nose.
It was easy to put them back into a neat stack – kinda fun, even. It brought back memories of playing with Lego and Lincoln Logs. I suppose I could have built a duck blind or my own version of Burning Man or something useful, but the daylight and my jocularity were fading rapidly.
Oat hay does not stack well once it has come un-flaked. It has no cohesive properties. Trying to stack oat hay is like trying to stack a pile of those colored plastic drinking straws. Try it some time. Take a big handful of soda straws and try to press them all together into a pile and make them stay put. That’s pretty much what it was like trying to pile the oat hay back up. I’d scoop up an armful, get half of it into the stack and half of it would slide back to the ground. What’s the name of that guy in the Greek myth? You know, the one who was condemned to forever push a boulder up a hill, only to have the rock slip and roll back down every time he neared the summit? It was like that.
After a lot of re-scooping and re-piling interspersed with creating new ways to combine cuss words, I had the oat hay arranged into something that looked almost exactly but not quite entirely unlike a stack. Although it yinged this way and yanged that way, it was arguably upright. But as I bent down to scoop the last bit of hay from the ground, the stack reached some sort of critical mass and collapsed in all directions. Oat hay slid willy nilly, the way skaters would scatter if you tossed a few well-timed bowling balls out at the Ice Capades. It was carnage. The Hindenburg would have been easier to clean up.
I never did get the hay back into a neat pile. Out of daylight and patience, there was nothing left to do but pull a tarp over the mess and flee the scene of the crime. Tomorrow, people would discover the destruction. They’d blame our Mexican groom Antonio. He’d never be able to summon up enough English to defend himself. I’d be safe. I’d just have to wear long sleeves for a week to hide all the scratches I’d gotten wrestling with the prickly hay.
And next time I took my horse walking behind the barn, I’d be sure to keep the hay bales out of his reach.