One of the wonderful things about winter chores was going into the hay barn every night and throwing down the hay for the evening. This meant braving the bitter cold as you had to go outside to get to the upstairs of the barn.
And brief respite from the normal work load.
We learned the hard way one summer that our barn, while sturdy, also had an exceptionally large haybarn. One that, if you tried to stack the hay carefully, would be too much weight for the barn below. Good lesson learned, and no major damage, just some beauty marks on some of the beams holding the floor of the haybarn above the lower floor where the cows and the heart of our dairy operation were located.
It was tough work.
It meant climbing over the piles of hay, learning the routes over, and sometimes under, bales of hay. Climbing down the carefully stacked piles that surrounded the holes along the walls where we through the bales down, sticking your toe in along the edge of the plywood and sliding it back to open it up to the barn below, climbing back up and throwing the hay down.
About twenty to thirty bales a night, enough for the nights feeding and the next morning. And it varied depending upon how much hay the cows left in the manger.
It was also a good way to get away for even a little while.
Part of me felt myself doing my Swiss ancestors proud. Scaling mounds of bales. Using the ropes from the old hay sling, or that dangled from the elevator mounted to the peak and scaling up seemingly insurmountable heights.
Or sometimes it was just looking out the big barn door on a clear, cool winters night, peaceful, quiet, before descending to the hustling world below.