Daddy’s First Hay Baler By: Bill Chupp (Sept/Oct 2017)

American Farming Publication Bill Chupp

In 1948, daddy bought a Will’s Jeep Universal with a PTO and belt pulley. He would pull the stationary Ann Arbor hay press to the field, stake it down and hook it to the back of the Jeep with a long flat belt twisted in the middle and anchor it down fast.
I remember the year and the day I rode along when he pulled that steel wheeled hay press northwest of Pryor to the Bate’s meadow to bale the blue stem prairie hay. Daddy sold a lot of hay to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
We had just started north on the west side of Pryor about where the Westside Baptist Church is today. The steel wheels made a terrible racket on the lose gravel. All at once, the Jeep lurched sideways and came to a screeching halt. A wheel had fallen off of the hay press.
Daddy took the old house jack out and raised the machine up level, greased the hub and slid it back on. He had plenty of baling wire to help hold it on.
Baling hay in those days took quite a crew for all the duties. There were the mowers, rakers, pitchers, feeders, blockers, back wire tiers and stackers. A lot of times, when there was a short crew, one man did two or three things.
I also remember when they had a large stack of hay baled, a truck driver pulled in with a long semi trailer. The men loaded the truck and securely tied the hay down. Then the driver came over in the shade by the water keg to settle up for the hay. Daddy figured it up, told the man, the man pulled a large canvas bag out of his truck cab and counted out the money in SILVER DOLLARS!
I thought daddy was a very wealthy man. At least, I knew he was a strong man to be able to hold that bag of silver dollars up in one hand.
I always enjoyed hearing daddy tell of buying his first hay press. The first year (1937) that Grandpa Chupp left and deserted the family, Grandpa Troyer bought the old hay press at the bankruptcy sale. Daddy decided that he and Uncle Noah Troyer could operate the baling by themselves and make some extra money. Uncle Noah was tall and could feed the hay from the ground and block it. Daddy could wire, back-wire, tie and stack!
Even though they had a good year, daddy decided he needed to buy his own rig. Uncle Henry Troyer wanted Grandpa’s hay press, so daddy let him buy it.
The winter of 1938, daddy began to check around for his own equipment. He found a newer version hay press with a faster baling capacity for $600. He already had the hay meadows rented and contracted to sell most of the hay.
The loan officer at the First National Bank had filled out the promissory note papers. As he was finishing it up, he made the comment, “I guess you will be buying some more cattle with this money.” “No,” daddy answered, “I’m going to buy me a stationary hay press. The loan officer was taken aback. “Well,” he said, “I can’t let you have the money for that, too many people go broke baling hay.” And he tore up the note.
Daddy was dazed. What could he do if the bank wouldn’t let him have the money? He walked out onto the street and slowly walked down to the American Bank. As he ambled down the street, he tried to think of some way to convince the banker to trust him for the loan. Maybe he could put up his horse, cows and hogs for collateral.
When he explained his desires to Bill McCollough, the President of the bank, a note was drawn and taken on his signature.
That year the hay prices increased by one dollar per ton. The extra money he made not only paid off the note, but the next winter he bought two “B” John Deere tractors.
Daddy sheared sheep in the spring, baled hay in the summer and started a small dairy. Within six years he accumulated enough capitol to buy a five hundred-acre farm.
When he closed the deal, he had to go to the loan officer that had refused the baler note to get the mortgage release papers of the seller. When the loan officer gave him the documents, he made the comment, “Do you need to borrow money to buy this place?” “No,” daddy said, “I’ve already made arrangements for the money.” “Well,” the loan officer said, “I was never more wrong about anyone than I was of you. You sure surprised me.”

Thanks, daddy, for showing me how to work. With the modern equipment, the work isn’t as hard, but at times a gust of wind blows hay dust on me and I remember those days of watching you work in the dust storm created by that old stationary hay press. I’m glad you had the fortitude to endure it. A belated Happy Father’s Day.