Two of the most commonly confused farm materials are hay and straw. If you aren’t familiar with the two it may not seem like there is a big difference; however, to farmers, the two are as different as night and day. Hay is a green/brown color, and it is used mostly to feed animals. On the other hand, straw is used primarily as bedding for animals and it’s gold. The one thing hay and straw do have in common is that they are both extremely sharp and itchy. If skin rubs against hay and straw, the result is painful. There will be tiny cuts and bumps, which burn severely when you get in the shower and try to clean them.
Growing up I wasn’t affected by the numerous cuts and scrapes. All I cared about was getting to play on the bales that were put away in the barn. We had high stacks in the loft of our barns. My friends and I thought it was cool to climb around on the bales. We would create all sorts of crazy games to play up in the loft. For example, it was a great course for hide and seek. We also had a blast moving the bales around and making pretend houses.
When we got a little older, we also became braver. One time my friend and I wondered into the loft and found the straw was stacked very high as usual, but then instead of stair stepping down, it was a straight dropped off. So, we made a large pile of loose straw at the bottom to give us a soft landing. We climbed up to the top of stack of bales, and without thinking about how dangerous it was, we jumped off. Neither of us got hurt, so we went through the maneuver about 20 more times. Looking back I think about all the things that could have gone wrong, and I realize we were both very lucky to make it out alive.
Another fun activity we discovered was making hay tunnels. We would map out where we wanted the tunnels to go and how many we wanted. We would then have to drag the bales and stack them just right. Luckily we were fairly small so the tunnels didn’t have to be very big. Also, since we were pretty young we weren’t very strong. By the time we got all the tunnels made we were usually too worn out to actually use them. So, we’d wait until the next day to examine our work.
Playing in the hay made some of my best childhood memories. It didn’t matter how many times we went up there, we always seemed to find something new to do. Now looking back I’m not sure how I dealt with the itching and burning I suffered after I played in it, but at the time it was well worth it.