GOOD CLEAN FUN
by Rodney Nelson
I remember making hay with Dad,
We’d put it up in stacks—
Dad used to use a stackframe,
and filled it to the max.
Then sometimes, but not often,
he’d say “Rodney, you’ve the knack.
Grab a fork—I’ll lift you up,
and you top off the stack.”
Reluctantly, I’d take the fork.
He’d lift me up on top—
I’d stack that hay to 30 feet,
before he’d finally stop.
Then he’d drive up really close,
I could see him down beneath
As I stepped out on the pushoff
on the end of the stacker teeth.
He’d back up a little ways,
I hoped he’d try no tricks
But giving me rides on that farmhand,
was how he got his kicks!
Wasn’t long and I’d get mad.
I’d had these rides before—
He’d slide the pushoff almost in,
Then he’d run it out once more!
“Come on, Dad, let me down,
this really isn’t fair”
Then he’d point the teeth toward the ground
and leave me dangling in the air!
I could hear him laughing down below,
in hopeless choking mirth.
and I’d wonder if I’d ever again
put my feet upon the earth!
It was no use to argue,
Dad wouldn’t quite ’till he was done,
But I always, always wondered,
How could this be so fun?!
Well, our yard light burned out last year,
and since I’d run that farmhand all my life,
I knew we could fix it in a minute
if I could convince the wife!
Wasn’t easy to convince her,
she said a housewife was her role,
Though mad she was, she climbed aboard,
Took a ride to the top of the pole.
I said, “Sweetheart, I’m so proud of you”
when she fixed the light—
“And you’re especially lovely when you’re angry,
You really are a sight.”
“Let me down, you worthless cur,”
She was having a full-fledged fit—
I couldn’t pass up a chance like this,
So I drove around a bit!
GOOD, CLEAN FUN—I said to myself
as she called me a hopeless sap,
My grin got even wider
as I made another lap!
“Honey, just enjoy yourself
and isn’t it a fright—
It’s the first time that I’ve carried you,
since our wedding night!”
I finally shut the tractor off
Let her sit up there a while,
Promised her I’d let her down,
if she would only smile!
Oh it was fun—but there’s a problem,
I can see it now, I can …
It’s gonna’ take some might sweet talkin’
when that light burns out again!
© 1989, Rodney Nelson
Maybe we’ll make this “hay week.”
North Dakota rancher, poet, columnist, and Senior Pro Rodeo champion Rodney Nelson recites this audience favorite in a video from the 2008 Western Folklife Center National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
Rodney’s daughter-in-law Sara Nelson shared photos of Rodney’s grandson Haakon in a past Picture the West at CowboyPoetry.com.
The photos were taken in August, 2014. Haakon was out in the hay field watching his father make some square bales and the baler popped out this little bale that was just his size. He was two at the time.
(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post, but please request permission for any additional uses.)