Wednesday, April 28, 2010


My first recollection of putting up hay was in 1945, when I was 6 years old. This date sticks in my mind because my mother was in the Winfield hospital. My Dad was going to take my sisters and I to see our baby brother. It had rained that morning and the ground was slick. My Dad was riding a horse at a gallop down the lane from our barn; the horse slipped, and fell on my Dad’s ankle, breaking it. I have no recollection what happened to get him help.
I do remember a few days later, he had a cast on and was using crutches. Early one morning, looking at our hay meadow, I saw a least three teams, pulling hay mowers and cutting the grass in our meadow. One of the teams was our closest neighbor, Clarence Westbrook, (Norma Knowles father, Jolene Sartin, (Westbrook) grandfather) one team was mules, which would have been Earl Coil, (Maxine Coil’s, class of 56, Dad) and the other was probably Ed Foltz. Seeing neighbors willing to pitch in and help other neighbors in time of need, left a lasting impression on this young mind. They volunteered their help, expecting nothing in return. They and I am sure other neighbor’s helped, mowing the meadow, raking, bucking and stacking the hay. All this was done with horse and manpower.
As I recall my first job in the haying process, was bucking the hay. After the grass was mowed, it was left to dry (cure) for a few days. It was then raked into wind rows, a long line of raked dry grass. It would then be bucked to the haystack. The buck was configured different than most other horse drawn implements. The buck was probably 10 to 12 feet wide. It had wooden runners, sometimes with metal attachments on the tips. The runners were a few inches apart. On each side of the row of runners was a tongue that was attached to the harness of a horse. A seat was on the back and in the middle of the buck. The person sitting on the seat held a harness rein from each horse. By pulling on the left or right rein, would guide the horses in the direction you wanted to go.
By directing the horses down a wind row, the hay would accumulate as the runners sled along on the ground. Sometimes the runners would hit a partially imbedded rock, causing the back of the buck to flip up, unseating the person on the seat.
When there was a full load of hay on the buck, the horses would be driven to the place where they were stacking the hay. By backing the horse up, the load of hay would be left by the stack. The hay would be pitched up on the stack by using pitchforks. Someone on the stack would place the hay around the top of the stack, building it higher and higher, thus the name “hay stack”.
We switched from stacking hay to baling hay. The first hay baler was long and heavy. (Time has faded my memory of the names of many of the baler components.) It had iron wheels and horsepower was used to move and operate it. The baler was centrally located in the hay meadow. The iron wheels where removed with the baler setting on the axels. The front of the baler had a long metal guide that was low enough for horse to step over. Inside the guide was a long metal rod that was attached to a plunger that pushed the hay through the baler. A team of horses was hooked to a metal rod with the horses walking in a circle. The metal rod in the guide was geared so that the rod would go back and forth, pushing the plunger in and pulling it out.
My job was bucking hay to the baler. A pitchfork was used to pitch the hay into a wide funnel shaped opening. A “horse head shaped part” was geared and attached to the rod that pushed and pulled the plunger in and out. When the “horse head” went up, a pitchfork of hay was placed in the opening. When the “horse head” came down it pushed the hay in front of the plunger, which compressed and pushed the hay through the back of the baler. The placing of a wooden block separated the bales. The wooden block was placed in a holder. A part of the “horse head” was a v-shaped metal piece that when the “horse head” came down, if a block was in the holder, the block would be pushed down, dividing the hay into bales.
The back of the baler had an upper and lower guide, the distance being the width of the bale. The length was the length of two to three bales. The compressed hay being pushed through the back was open on each side. The wooden block had two grooves on each side. A person sat on each side of the baler. Baling wire, with an eye on one end and cut to the length of a bale, came in a tube. The person (1) sitting on the left pulled the wire out of the tube, placing the end of the wire without the eye through the grooves in the wooden block. The person (2) on the other side placed and pushed the wire through the block grooves on the other end of the bale. Person (1) would place the wire end through the wire eye and wrap it around the wire “tying” the bale. The tied bales were pushed out the back of the baler and another person stacked the bales, which were placed on a horse drawn trailer and hauled to the barn. This haying process was as labor intensive as stacking but much more convenient for feeding.
The next haying method I recall was the transition from horsepower to tractor power. Many of the horse drawn implements were converted to be pulled by a tractor, The tongue was cut down to be shorter and attachments bolted to the tongue that would enable the implement to be hooked to the draw bar of the tractor. The hay mower and rake were adapted to be pulled by the tractor.
The major change was the tractor drawn hay baler would pick up the hay in the wind row. This eliminated the hay bucking process. The first tractor drawn baler I remember, still required two men sitting on seats on the rear of the baler, tying the bales. The bales coming out the back of the baler would be scattered around the meadow. Sometimes a wooden sled would be attached to the rear of the baler. A man would ride on the sled and stack the bales on the sled. The sled had an open space in the middle, running the length of the sled. When several bales were stacked on the sled, a crow bar would be stuck into the ground through the open sled space, causing the bales to be slid off the rear of the sled. The many small stacks of bales scattered around the meadow would be picked up with a trailer and hauled to the barn. I also recall a trailer being attached to the rear of the baler and the bales stacked on the trailer.
Near the end of my “haying days”, we acquired mowers; win row rakes and self-tying balers designed for tractors. In a time period of less than ten years the haying process drastically changed. From labor intensive to a one-man operation.
While growing up on a farm I never appreciated the farm life and my ambition was “not to be a farmer”. In retrospect I am very thankful that I was raised on a farm. During my farm youth, I had the honor of being in the presence and observing two great men. One was my Dad, Cecil Metcalf and my uncle Art Metcalf. (Father of Artie and Wayne). Together they rented farmland, purchased equipment, helped each other and had great respect for one another. I never heard a derogatory comment, a disagreement, or foul language. To my knowledge they never tried tobacco or alcohol. They were the most honest and moral men I have had the privilege to know. Great role models.

Monday, April 19, 2010


In 1975 I left my job in Berkeley, Ca., got my act together, and decided to travel around the world for a year. I bought an "around the world ticket" from Pan Am which allowed the use of any associated airline and unlimited detours as long as one was continuing in the same direction. In my case I left SFO going east and my eventual return would be from Asia and the Pacific. Keep in mind that this is 35 years ago and the world situation was different then. Since I had no job or salary, I was doing this with meager savings and rental income from some property in San Francisco. For this reason I tended to spend more time in 3rd world countries where the dollar was strong. I was writing letters to my family when I had the time and I still have some of them (saved by my Mother). I will copy one of them and post it now. If a few are interested, I'll try to post another one from time to time. This is 7 months into my trip as it it the first one I picked from the file.


For 31 days now I have enjoyed hospitality Philippine style. To say the people are hospitable is an understatement. They are downright aggressive about it sometimes. Most of the populace instinctively like Americans (legacy from WWII) and English is one of the official languages.
Only a very churlish and rude recluse could avoid friendships here. If there is one out standing problem here, it is finding some solitude when you need it. It seems an insult to the national pride if any visitor is left alone. In this sense they are like the Thais, but at least there is usually a language barrier in Thailand which can be handy at times. Here one is engaged in conversation at street corners, restaurants, mens rooms, and even in the movies. By the second sentence they want to know your home, marital status, jobs, etc. More often than not the questioning will turn to politics- "What do you think of our country?, our martial law?. Do you like our women?, and from there to very personal prying which in rural Kansas you could accept from family or very long time friends. I've learned to expect it and I have my answers prepared. Some of them evasive and some outright falsehoods, but not malicious I hope.
I've also learned that when asked where I am staying it is best to lie unless I want unwanted telephone calls, or worse yet, people knocking unexpectedly at the door. I've had casual acquaintances wait for hours in the hotel lobby to catch me as I come in.
Much of this lavish and ego flattering attention no doubts stems from the urgent desire of more than half of the people-especially the young ones-to get to the U.S.A. Generally speaking they are very poor-really-and there is very little hope of a decent job for them here. As a result they want friends or sponsors in the States to help them enter. Lots of them are worthy and would be the lowliest type of menial servant for a ticket to USA, room, board and a some pocket money. Most of them know someone who has "made it" as a houseboy, nanny, or maid usually on a one o two year contract basis after which they are supposed to return home.
The Spanish era here has left a legacy of Catholicism with the exception of of the large Muslim minority mostly in the South, Mindanao and the Sula archipelago. The brown skinned, smiling people with their Christian heritage remind me a lot of Mexico. Of course in climate and physiognomy it is more like Thailand but Thailand is Buddhist with a Muslim minority.
My time here has been in Manila primarily, but I have made two side trips. The first was a bus trip of 7 hours to Baguio City in the mountains to the north of Luzon. The temperature is about 10 degrees cooler there and that was a VERY welcome change. The road up to the city is hairaising with switchbacks and sheer drops. It is an area of active mining, mostly copper. Also in the area are the famous rice terraces on the mountainsides-considered to be the 8th Wonder of the World. I had a decent but spartan room for 10 pesos ($1.40). Unfortunately I also had indigestion.
The wonder is not that I had the upset, but that I haven't had it sooner and more often. I have eaten so many so many new things in questionable places for the last 7months that I consider myself lucky for having had very little trouble. The upset moderated to simple diarrhea after 18 hours and with tetracycline and kaopectate finally disappeared after 4 days. I will say that the bus trip back to Manila was one I'd like to forget.
Other daytrips out of Manila were to Antipolo, a shrine and hill resort one hour from Manila, and to Pompanos State. I went to Pampanga at the invitation of two youngsters who had befriended me. Naturally they are are on the list of hopeful houseboys. I was very interested to visit their homes, one of which was little more than a Nipa hut (on stilts). I was served a lunch of fried rice and especially for the occasion they opened a can of pork and beans. The respective families were quite thrilled to host a foreigner, but I was embarrassed to accept their hospitality as they live at absolute poverty level. To serve iced Coke is a big thing for them but they did it. I was invited to spend the night, but instead caught the bus back to the city.
Not far from the hotel in Manila is a shop selling custom made shoes. I bought a pair and the shop manager (a fifty something widower with four sons)has adopted me. I must stop and visit there everyday at least once. I also was invited and accepted an invite to his birthday party in Marikina (a suburb). He has a tiny house of two rooms where five family members and two boarders stay. There were at least 50 guests at on time or another in the tiny place and I was the honored one. Everyone made sure I was served first, had the best chair, etc etc. Again I was embarrassed but couldn't change it. As there is a nationwide curfew of 1 A.M. it became too late for me to return to the city so I spent the night there. Two sons were relegated to the floor so I could have their bed. The bed was a plywood platform and that's it-no mattress only a mosquito net. I got very little sleep because of the heat and my hip bones were sore for days afterward from the hard slab. Such softies we westerners are!! I was invited repeatedly to move in there and save my hotel money. I'd love saving the money, but with those accommodations I might not survive long. I would judge them typical for lower middle class families.
Speaking of accommodations: Hotel prices in Manila have skyrocketed. The guide book I carry lists 1972 prices and in most cases they have tripled. I have tried three different hotels in Manila and find that the Merchants Hotel is the least I can accept. The rate is 50 pesos ($7.00) a day. In 1972 it was $2.50. It is listed as best value and I guess it still is although not the bargain a a few years back.
Other cheaper places are unsuitable for either cleanliness or facilities or both. Outside Manila the same category would be about 20 pesos or less than one half.
In the city walk and browse and I make a trip every other day to the American Express office to check for mail. There are many movies and they are cheap-50 to 75 cents-so I often go, as much to escape the midday heat as anything else. Though most of old Manila is crowded and dirty, there is a magnificent park just between old and new Manila with fountains, malls, and restaurants. I go there most nights to sit and watch the people and/or hear good outdoor concerts, or maybe watch the skaters. It seems like half the city goes there and I don't blame them as it is a beautiful place and it does get cool evening breezes and of course sometimes the evening rainstorm. I is wise to duck into one of the restaurants for coffee if you see those coming.
Food is not expensive if one stays out of the tourist hotels and restaurants. Native dishes which run to noodles, rice, fish and pork can be had for 4 or 5 pesos
(70cents). Soft drinks are a dime and San Miguel beer is 20 cents. I've discovered a hotel nearby where a lunchtime buffet is served for $1.40. For this you may choose from 25 or 30 meat and fish courses and other goodies-most of them delicious. On days I go there the other meals can be snacks. One local delicacy is "belote", embryonated duck eggs boiled in salt water. Though they are supposed to cure all ills, I still don't like eating that duck fetus inside.
One landmark (plural) is the Jeepney. Basically it is an elongated Jeep converted to a minibus. Each one is gaily and imaginatively painted and is loaded with dozens of chrome knicknacks and many painted slogans. They carry about 12 persons in extreme discomfort, but the cost to ride is 3 cents. They run on a pre-set routes. They are always crowded and in rush hour you can't get on one. Each is individually owned and run as a business. They are in every city, not only Manila.
As the Philippines is a nation of islands, large and small, they have a comprehensive network of shipping by sea. Some liners are primarily for passengers and others for freight, but most carry both. My most recent trip was a sea voyage to Zamboanga City on the southern tip of Mindanao island. It is 800 miles south of Manila and the voyage took two days and two nights, but I spent the third night on the ship because of the late arrival in Zamboanga and the curfew. The fare was 112 pesos, therefore the voyage, food, and bed was less then three nights in a Manila hotel. My particular ship was a large liner carrying lots of freight and about 150 passengers. My ticket was designated "first class without cabin" (there were no cabins on the ship). Bed was a canvas cot, sheets, and a pillow on the upper deck. 2nd class slept on the upper deck but had less protein with their meal. 3rd class were on a lower deck AND got less meat. Thank Providence for plenty of catsup which made the meals edible. Although there was little to do on board, the time passed pleasantly. We were usually in sight of verdant islands and some of the many soldiers on board had brought card decks and chess sets. I played Rummy and chess with them. The locals are chess nuts and I was no match for them, but I gave them
"what for" with the card games..
Mindanao Island and the Sula archipelago to the south are home to many of the Muslims and is the site of a revolt against the central govt. I think the Muslims want autonomy. The quarrel didn't affect me and I found both the Muslims and the Christians to be most hospitable. The city itself is a busy Market and Shipping center for all the surrounding area. The Market place is a joy, right on the waterfront with bounty from the sea and local gardeners that beggers discription. Fish of every size, shape, and hue straight from the sea, or huge sweet, juicy mangoes for a nickle. A good sized fish or 4 smaller ones sell for 30 cents. The vendors are a kaleidoscope of tribal origins and dress. When a fisherman/vendor runs low on stock the Muslim boys dive right into the sea and swim to the boat to bring new stock. I went browsing at the market at least once a day.
Aside from poking around the town I went to a small offshore island or reef for swimming. The water was crystal clear and there were coral reefs and and fish aplenty. The beach was almost deserted except for some naked Muslim urchins. I also took a Jeepney to the outskirts of the little city and continued by foot into the hills on one of many footpaths. There were clean streams and dozens of washerwomen; lots of thatched huts, caribou, tropical flowers, and some of the largest and most brilliantly colored birds and insects I have ever seen. The natives were amazed to see a tourist trekking back in the hills, but uniformly friendly. At one point I traversed a swinging, trembling, suspension footbridge over a stream. The local kids were jumping and scampering on the bridge and howling with glee at my attempts to keep my balance.
Zamboanga more than any other place seems a tropical,southseas paradise. The prices are minuscule and as yet not discovered. I highly recommend it to anyone who need a change of pace. I did see some Americans who were at the local 1st class hotel with Unitours so you better hurry.
On my trip back to Manila I took the ship "Sweet Home", a fine vessel with a set schedule and a varying range of accommodations. It is mostly a passenger ship, but carries some cargo. I left on Friday night and got back to Manila on Monday afternoon. The vessel spent 16 hours in Cebu City so I explored there a bit. I had a proper cabin this time with a good bunk, four bunks to a cabin. It was air conditioned and we had meals in a real dining room. The fare was 140 pesos-still less than spending that time in Manila.


Monday, April 5, 2010

The Candy Store Again

I just got home from a trip and had a chance to look in at the CV blog. Here is the latest photo of our little candy store with some Photoshop enhancement. Enjoy.