Friday, May 08, 2009

Working harder than I've ever worked before . . .

The tractor-trailer arrived at about 6:30 AM at our Sonoran Desert ranch—loaded with 22+ tons of Kansas hay. Each bale weighed an average of 75 pounds, over 600 bales in all. The goal was to start early, before the heat set in. We began.

At a rate of 35 to 50 bales at a time, we loaded a pickup truck, backed the truck into the stable area, unloaded and restacked. One bale at a time the work proceeded.

By about 9 AM the pace slowed markedly as the heat set in. We pressed on. I’d climb up on the giant flatbed filled with hay, toss bales down to the crew in the back of the pickup. They’d pack and stack. We’d back the truck 350 feet to the covered hay area (a roof on poles blocks the sun and the rare rains). Our pile grew to be about ten or twelve layers high. The photo ops were epic, Jerry Jackson in his cowboy boots perched on top of the towering stack—behind him a Sonoran blue sky and the Phoenix mountains, covered in cacti and rock.

We began to stumble and fall in the holes between the bales as we worked to lift the buggers in to their pile.

We drank copious amounts of fluids—I had at least five to seven liters of water and didn’t take a single bathroom break. And on we went.

By 10:30 or so, the heat and the work were really taking a toll. I took on the work with a determined intensity, and though it didn’t look like it, I enjoyed it.

By the end our pace was comically slow. The temperature hit a hundred—six hours of non-stop hard labor pushed us to our limits.

I am the Monica Seles of physical labor, grunting and swearing as I lifted yet another bale.

The youngest member of the team, a 24 year old, hit the wall a good hour before the end.

It was down to me and two fifty-somethings who were work horses.

Straining, sweating, and panting we plowed on to the end.

I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever worked this hard.

No matter how much I drank I sweated and breathed out huge quantities of fluids. I am still dehydrated almost 24 hours later. I was spent, but my spirit was strengthened from the efforts.

The hay is unloaded—enough to last until about September, when it will be even hotter in Phoenix. This was the biggest load ever received at this particular ranch. I am betting the September load won't be as big.