Running with Hay Hooks
By Cindy Hale
Thursday, April 22, 2010
As horse people we have some very creative ways of injuring ourselves. Right now I’m struggling to type because my left hand and wrist are immobilized by a temporary splint made of hot pink Vetrap. A few more wraps around and I’d look like a mummy ready for a spring fling fashion parade. And it all began with a hay hook.
You see, my father makes twice-monthly sorties out to a hay broker in the hinterlands. He returns with a truckload of luscious, thin stemmed, blue-green alfalfa. It smells sweetly, like perfume almost, and each bale is heavy with solid flakes that peel off like slices of hearth baked bread. Even better? The cost per bale is half of what I’d pay in town for such gourmet horse chow. For someone like me, who considers hay bales to be the universal currency of Horseville, that’s a deal I cannot pass up. So this afternoon, between waves of a spring thunderstorm, I drove to my parents’ place and reimbursed them for a couple of bales to take home to Wally.
The dilemma? How to heft the bales, which weigh more than me, into the bed of my pickup.
My mom and I devised a plan to manhandle each bale onto the wheelbarrow and then pitch it, end over end, up to the edge of the tailgate. Then I was to jump into the bed of my truck, grab hold of the baling twine and drag it up and in. As I groaned and grunted, my mother (being a Mom) fretted about me using my bad right arm so much.
“Go get one of the hay hooks for the next bale,” she said.
Being the obedient daughter, I sprinted back to the hay shed, trying to dodge the next batch of rain. I took a hay hook from the wall and ran back to the truck. At some point I glanced down at my hand, protruding from the sleeve of my sweatshirt, and thought, “My, don’t I look a little like a pirate? Like Captain Hook? Stick a stuffed parrot on my shoulder and this could be a really cool Halloween costume!”
About then my mom shouted, “Cindy! Don’t be running with a hay hook like that!”
Dutifully, I slowed to a walk.
Then I clambered up into the bed of my truck and stabbed the hook into the bale. My mom began to cheer me on with instructions like, “Okay, now pull the bale toward you!”
I pulled as hard as I could, leaning so far back that I was almost against the rear window of my truck’s cab. And then…. The hook slipped out of the bale. Much like the loser in a game of Tug of War, I tumbled backwards. My head struck the window, dazing me, and I fell directly on my left arm. You know, the good one. The one that doesn’t already cause me daily pain.
But because I’d instinctively used my hand to break my fall, my wrist immediately began to hurt terribly. At first I feared I’d broken it, but then (thanks to my famous x-ray vision) I diagnosed it as a major sprain.
And thus my mother, the retired Emergency Room nurse, brushed the alfalfa dust off her clothing and created a splint using a roll of Vetrap. She hasn’t lost the knack for whipping together an impromptu field dressing, and I soon sported a professionally crafted supportive bandage. In neon pink. Ironically, it’s from the same roll of Vetrap we used to bandage our barn kitty’s leg last week after she’d tangled with the local tomcat. I’m not sure if that’s a reflection on our family’s standard of medical care or the fact that we just happen to use a lot of Vetrap. In our eyes, Vetrap is the new duct tape.
Unfortunately I’ll have to explain to my husband Ron just why I was attempting to wrangle bales of hay into my truck when I’m not exactly 100% sound. I’m sure it’ll go over about as well as explaining why a couple of the fingernails on my other hand are black and blue and apt to peel off shortly. It’s because when I slipped the halter on Wally the other morning he obnoxiously grabbed for the lead rope and grabbed my fingers instead. That’s my fault for stumbling out to the paddock half asleep in my pajamas. Now I’m paying for my lack of attention with some gnarly looking fingertips.
Gee, I wonder if I could cover them up with Vetrap?
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