Ride Easy: Dangerous Dan

I went to work for the Dogie when my cousin Lad hired me to rake hay on the Luppold Ranch, leased by the Dogie. Lad was putting up the hay there and the fellow who was raking hay quit. I moved into the house with Lad and Dan.

My Dad contracted raking and baling hay throughout the county and I’d been doing much of the raking since I was five. I’d graduated from high school in May and was working for Pops at his International Harvester dealership and gas station. I didn’t like raking hay when I was doing it, but when I was in the gas station, I was wishing I was in the hay field. I was pretty happy when Lad hired me.

Lad was in charge and did the baling, Dan was mowing. The easy haying, in the upper fields that were irrigated and smooth, was done. It was a dry year and we were trying to get as much hay off the swamp land as we could. The land was rough and the roots and grass sat on a deep mud flat. The cows grazed it in the winter and it was full of knobs. It had been hayed during another dry year and when the hay was  in windrows rains came which raised the water table. The windrows became filled with silt over the years, making it even rougher to drive over.

Lad spent about as much time fixing things as he did baling, so I baled frequently.

The heavy baler, which we pulled with a caterpillar, broke through the thin crust over the swamp and was stuck often.

My job was the easiest. The rake and small Ford tractor didn’t weigh much, and the mower had gone over the land and found all the worst swampy places so I didn’t get stuck often.

Dan was one of those fellows who went like crazy, but didn’t think about what could happen. He often drove headlong into obviously wet spots. He’d come walking across the field and Lad or I would know he was stuck and had the cat unhooked from the baler by the time he got close. We’d go pull him out, admonish him about watching for such places, and go back to the baler. Dan seldom saw balls of wire  or posts that had sunk nearly out of sight and would end up spending long amounts of time untangling wire from the cutter bar or fixing guards and sections broken from hitting posts and other obstacles he ran the cutter bar into.

He once drove in next to the work pickup I had just driven back to the hayfield with a sickle I’d fixed for him. He got next to the pickup, spun the steering wheel of his tractor, hit the turning brake and drove the end of the cutter bar, which he’d neglected to put in the upright position, through the passenger side of the pickup. Fortunately, I’d seen what he was doing and hadn’t gotten out of the pickup.

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About Pep Dekekr

Pep loves Estes Park, he lives here with his family and hopes to bring people to Estes Park and Estes Park to the people. Along with his wife Paige, they own EstesPark.com.

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