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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (03/06/08)

TITLE: Hauling in the green
By mark walters
03/08/08


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Thought I was going to pass out before we got to the barn. It was over 100 degrees out. I was on the ground, walking at a fast pace behind the trailer, trying to keep up. Bales of redtop cane (actually mostly Johnston grass) had mysteriously appeared that morning, strewn about the 50 acre field next to my house. They were arranged so casually as to suggest mere chance was more involved in their placement than design. The foreman called it a coiled spring, but it looked more like a drunken giant had failed at his attempt to fell a row of giant green dominoes.
In my late 30’s already, and seriously underweight; I wasn’t anxiously anticipating the enjoyment of heaving the hundred pound sticker laden cubes up to the catcher waiting to grab them. Ranch work didn’t tend to make most folks overweight. Working stock, building fence and hauling hay every day in the spring, fall and summer, has a rather slimming effect on the profile.
I had only whittled away the outermost two circles of this coil of cattle fodder, when the driver stopped his rig. “I don’t think I have a gear on this truck that will let me drive slowly enough for you to keep up. Why don’t you hop up and be a catcher?”
“That’s a great idea,” I agreed; although that wasn’t what I as thinking at the time. However, living and working at the same location made me think twice about telling the boss what to do with this job. Way, way out in the country, there was no due process of law and the eviction process was usually fairly quick, consisting of burning the tenant’s property on the front lawn while chanting “I evict thee”, three times. Never having been fond of living in my truck, I decided to acquiesce to his wonderful suggestion.
Actually the trailer bed was a lot easier to work, than trying to keep up on foot with my one good leg. The other catcher didn’t smile at all when he was told to relieve me on the ground. He was mumbling something about being 50 years old and still throwing hay bales. At the moment I did not concur with his estimation. He didn’t even look 50, maybe 49 tops.
Now at last the driver claimed he would be able to hear the sound of the truck over my wheezing. That was a gross exaggeration of course. My “wheezing” was actually a dirge I was singing to lighten my fears of immediate cardiac arrest: “Oh, (wheeze) my darlin’, (gasp) Clementine.”
After an hour or so of this thrilling endeavor we repaired to the hay loft to rid ourselves of the catch of the day. If you have ever stacked hay in a barn on a hot summer afternoon, count yourself fortunate, nay, blessed of God. Now you can easily endure the Chinese water torture, the rack or an IRS audit without even breaking a sweat.
A hay loft in a summer afternoon has an airless, steamy quality about it. What with the lack of air circulation, the dust from the hay and dirt being rapidly churned as hay bales fly through the loft door as fast as the elevator is able to drop them into the nice 100+ degree metal barn and the voices from below urging your haste.
I know these civil folk were surely not using curse words to describe my pace. They were an amusing lot; barely able to conceal their mirth by the dark threats uttered through clenched teeth. But they didn’t rush upstairs to replace me in the loft. No one wanted to work the loft. If hell had an upstairs apartment it was located here. At last I had found true job security, no more bread lines for me.
We were grateful for the coffee break after an hour or so of stacking the wonderful green bales in the nice cool barn. Instead of drinking a hot cup of coffee in the 105 degree heat like the boss, we plunged ourselves into the river. We knew he’d be grateful for not having to waste valuable hay hauling time hassling with funeral parlors.


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This article has been read 428 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 03/14/08
Your voice in this piece is authentic, rustic, casual--a good read.

However, this is probably way too literal an interpretation of the proverb (take another look at the prompt).

Keep writing, keep honing your craft--you're in the right place!
Lyn Churchyard03/15/08
I loved the humor sprinkled throughout this piece. Well done. One little hint, make sure you put spaces between your paragraphs, it makes it easier to read.
Yvonne Blake 03/17/08
Interesting! I was facinated by the first paragraph. I'm not sure if the grass was knocked down by nature, or were you describing how it looked after being baled?
An extra line between paragraph would make it easier to read.
I could feel the heat and the prickly hay. (not my idea of fun either)
Thank you for writing this.