Hay is for Girls

Click, click, click, BAM! I gently push the clutch down and then the brake to bring the rickety old hay truck to a stop to assess the damage. With the creak of the door I step out into the blistering sun where I’m face to face with four sweat soaked 18-year-old boys. They reach around me for the water jug as I walk back to the rusty old hay loader we depend so much on. With the flick of a lever, the loader is back to semi working condition. One step back to the truck and the boys start whining and moaning about the 100-degree July weather they are working in.

“If you think I’m getting back up there in this heat your crazy,” whined Larry. The rest of them enthusiastically agreed as I shook my head in disappointment. Looking over their heads, I could see the rows of hay still left to be picked up, as well as my dad continuing to make them. There was no doubt in my mind that my dad was not going to be pleased with the hay truck sitting in one place for a long period of time. I had known Larry since I was a baby, but the rest of the boys were new and didn’t know I was in charge.

“Look! You and I both know that we can’t just quit in the middle of the field so unless you are dying, we keep going. You all look like you are living to me, so let’s go before it gets any hotter.” As a 16-year-old girl, I didn’t seem as much of a threat to the three new boys who immediately dismissed my existence. Larry took another drink and hopped back on the trailer ready to go. The other three pushed each other while joking around swapping filth when they nudged one another. With the heat barring down and no breeze in sight, I couldn’t help but become irritated after being ignored by my workers.

“Hey, let’s go we have stuff to do.” All three of them looked at me in unison with a glare.

Pucket, the taller of the three smirked and said, “and why should we listen to you? You’re just the girl who drives the truck and gets us water.” I was shocked at this comment. I could feel my face change from shocked to angry in a matter of seconds. These boys thought I was just here to make their job slightly easier. Little did they know that I had been throwing hay since I was 10 years old and was their boss.

Before I could finish my thought process Jeremey, one of the other boys said, “why are you even out here, it’s not like you could work like us anyway.”

At this point I was steaming with anger and disbelief of their disrespect. “Okay, go get in the truck I’ll stack the rest of the load,” I said as I walked to the trailer. Before they could even think about what I had said I was on the trailer with Larry who was now chuckling at the boys on the ground. They all looked up at me with blank expressions trying to piece together what was happening. I loaded the trailer four layers higher with Larry in half the time it had taken them to load the two layers prior. They stopped the truck as I put the last bale in its place and got down before they opened the door. My dad pulled up to us laughing and shaking his head as the boys got out of the truck.

“I’m supposed to be paying you guys, but my daughter has done all your work,” my dad says to the boys with a smirk on his face. The three boys looked at me in disbelief unable to form words, which I later found out was because they didn’t realize I was their boss’s daughter making me their supervisor. They could not believe that a girl was in charge of them in such a labor-intensive job.

Being a female in the agricultural industry can be a challenging facet especially if the males around you do not respect you. Growing up as a female and generally younger than those I work with in the agricultural industry has taught me to prove myself over and over to gain respect. This experience is just one example of having to earn respect just because of my age and mostly my gender. I think its very important for females in the agricultural industry to demand to be respected even if that means having to prove yourself to anyone who doubts you.

In sisterhood,

Tracy Oelschlaeger

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