All Hay, No Cattle

cows eating hay

Pass It On is a new, bi-weekly peek inside the heart and mind of Francis Pass…


Click the play button to listen to Francis Pass tell this story.

Loren Eddleman was the superintendent of Dongola high school. And he owned a cattle farm along 51 just north of Dongola. I worked there with a crew putting up hay in the late spring and early summer. We would stack bale after bale all day, every day.

There was this one peculiar year when Mr. Eddleman sold all his cattle. He wasn’t the only one. I guess the price of beef was very good that year because a lot of the other farmers in the area sold their cattle, too.

But while Mr. Eddleman didn’t have any cattle, he had a bumper crop of hay.

I was with Mr. Eddleman one day when we stopped at the Dongola Fruit Belt service station.

One of the owners was a fella by the name of Bert Watkins. Ol’ Bert loved to tease folks, so as I was getting my RC Cola from the soda machine, he was givin’ Mr. Eddleman an earful.

Bert said, “What’cha gonna do with all that hay?”

Mr. Eddleman just smiled and replied, “I’ll figure something out.”

I’m not sure how many head of cattle he had, but Mr. Eddleman always put up a lot of hay. During harvest time, we’d fill up three of his barns.

But this year, they were bustin’ at the seams. Every nook, crack and cranny was filled with hay... with no cattle to eat it.

One Saturday morning, I got a phone call from Mr.Eddleman asking me to get the crew together to load all that hay onto a truck.

I was a young man. Saturdays meant going to town and having some fun. But I also never passed up an opportunity to work.

Mr. Eddleman paid us by the bale. And he always threw in a little extra cash.

I rustled up our crew and headed out to the farm.

There sat the most magnificent semi-truck I’d ever seen. Shiny green with a pristine flatbed trailer. This wasn’t like the old dirty semis we’d seen lumbering around Dongola. It was spic-and-span and fit for a king.

Two fellas the climbed out of that semi wearing green uniforms. They were neat and clean with thin leather gloves and lab-type eye goggles. Their boots shined like a diamond. Everything about them was immaculate.

We’d throw the hay bales at one end of the trailer, while one of the green suits carried the bales to the stacker at the other end.

This was nothing new for these guys. They were pros.

I’d never seen anything like it.

We loaded up that trailer and they took off. We learned later that they were heading to a racehorse farm in Lexington, Kentucky.

Mr. Eddleman sold every single bale of hay that year.

When I asked him about it, he told me that he made more money selling his hay than he would’ve made had he kept his cattle.

Like I said, it was a peculiar year.

We’ve had a couple of those ourselves recently, haven’t we?

Be well. Stay well. Thanks for readin’...

Francis Pass

P.S. – Did you know the legendary racehorse Secretariat reached a top speed of 49 miles per hour? I bet he ate a lot a hay.