David Quesnal

a native Vermonter; his writing is inspired by his love for Vermont and nature

When I bought the old Greenberg farm on Barnumville Road in 1978, the big barn still had the ridge railing attached, along with the carriage. I’m not sure how the forks were dropped down from the carriage system to the wagon of hay, but that was when the hollering started. After the forks had secured a bunch of hay, someone from the wagon would holler, maybe to a relay person, to get the horses under way. This required a vigorous slap on the rump along with more hollering. Like magic, the forks with their load of hay would slowly rise up to the peak and then disappear into the haymow. Shortly after the load disappeared, the hollering would commence again. Someone would be up in the haymow, and when he wanted to discharge the load of hay, it would be his turn to holler. The horses would be stopped and then the hay would be released from those huge forks. The forks would reappear at the gable end and the process repeated.

I remember this same operation being done with a tractor, but it was nowhere near as much fun as hollering and smacking a horse on his butt. If you have ever been involved with draft horses, you quickly learn that they don’t like to draft. It takes a lot of hollering and swearing and slapping to persuade them. In this case, my grandfather was vigorously encouraging the horses to pull the hay elevator that would lift the hay up and onto the wagon. As I have mentioned before, my grandfather was never too eager to perform chores. He did them because for us to survive he had to. It was late in the day, just before I was called in for supper, when my grandfather cut loose with a string of obscenities that any construction worker would have had a difficult time repeating. But, boy, I sure could. When I came into the house, I repeated my grandfather’s version of the Knut Rockne speech.

Two faces appeared close to mine at my eye level. “What did you say?

Proudly, I said it again. Boy, did they cut loose on Ted when he finished his chores and unexpectedly walked into this hornets’ nest looking for his supper! Poor Ted.


from GrandPAW's Memoirs: Growing Up On a Dirt Road by David Quesnal (Shires Press)