As promised in the previous post, this is about the softer side of ranch life and farming. In the video below I got to ride in a tractor pulling a hay rake, and watch a baler make huge round bales, all while watching cowboys sweat. Coolest. Thing. Ever.
(Follow this link if you missed the first part with the video of a bull calf being castrated. It should be noted here that my Texan friends all chided me for the lengthy disclaimer about the bull calf castration video, while my Californian friends are mortified at just the thought. I truly never imagined how diverse this country is.)
In California I only ever saw rectangular (“square”) hay bales. When I arrived in Texas all I saw were round bales. Huge, cylindrical bales standing 6 feet tall and weighing roughly 1200 pounds.
Below is the round baler, one that has a tendency to jam up. It was good for me…
But I digress. (And am close to becoming guilty of the very thing I have come to despise of late. More on that in the next post.)
One of the gentlemen above has about 125 head (the number of individual cattle) and is a full-time rancher. The other works full time in the steel industry and helps on his friend’s ranch in his spare time. He considers himself a steel worker rather than a cowboy. (But he wears nothing but jeans and cowboy boots and grew up in the country working cattle. I think he’s a cowboy who works in the steel industry.)
The virtue of round bales, as was explained to me, is that they store better due to their shape. While water tends to pool and run through the center of square bales, water runs off round bales keeping the centers fresh. (Round bales are stored on the curved edge, rather than the flat sides.) Stacked end to end, they tolerate the weather quite well when compared to square bales.
During a short visit to the local county fair, I was surprised to see hay is judged for quality and protein levels. I just thought it was all long grass.
In the following you’ll see a short clip of my ride inside a tractor pulling a hay rake, then see how the round bales are made. The thing hatches the bales like huge dinosaur eggs!
Each part of Texas is like a different country. (Actually, I’ve been to a couple foreign countries. Spain seemed much less like a foreign country to this once-long-time-Californian than Texas does. Honestly.) And the accents get thicker as you move east across the state. In East Texas the accents are thick as molasses. Have I mentioned how I feel about the accents? Good stuff.
This brings me to the thing to which I alluded above. There are two major, and surprising to me, differences between the U.S. west coast and here in the south: people are often openly racist, and men are often extremely chauvinistic. I’m not saying that racism and chauvinism don’t occur on the west coast, they do, but it’s not nearly as prevalent as here.
It should be noted that the majority of my recent experiences occurred in the rural areas, but are not limited to only “country folk”. I’ve met several men from large cities like Dallas and have been treated just as much like a second-class citizen. And I should add that the gentlemen pictured above are not those to whom I’m referring, but there does seem to be an overall propensity for preferring beauty above all else.
Rather than make this post much longer, I’ll continue my rant in the next post.