By Kristy Jones
If you live in the west and own horses, there are 3 people you always remain a “good standing” with, #1- Your ferrier (horse shoer), #2- your hay man and #3- your vet. My husband has always wondered why he hasn’t made the top 3, so I will put him in a tie with the vet for the sake of argument. Well this week I learned my hay man, Farmer Wayne is retiring. He didn’t even ask my permission, but I guess he knew he’d never get it from me. He was one of the first contacts we made when we moved to Wyoming almost 6 years ago now.
We used to joke about a farmer being a man out standing in his field. As you roll into Wayne’s place, lush grassy fields appear with no sign of a weed for miles, the exacting organization of the hay barns with nothing out of place, the examples of inventive modifications and organization on every vehicle, the change dates written on external oil filters, tools neatly strapped to equipment and nothing at the farm being wasted or sitting in ruin. This, efficiently run, operation stands out because of an outstanding man, and a terrific farmer and great businessman. He also understood how good Christian values and integrity translated into loyal customers and friends for life. Our hay source, our favorite farmer, and our true friend, is retiring now and we know there is no one who will ever completely fill his shoes ever again.
Wayne could be the poster person for the best part of this state, its people. When we got here, we learned that most farmers prefer to bail LARGE bales around here. I’m talking 750-800 pound bales, (which actually aren’t really the largest bales made) We were scratching our heads trying to figure out how we would get said large bales to the barn when we went to talk to Wayne. We should not have worried, because in true Wyoming fashion he loaned us his flat bed trailer, loaded the bales onto it and gave us his cable so we could pull them off with our small tractor. Then to make it even easier for us, he made us our own cable so we wouldn’t have to bring it back to him. He told us to pick up our bales as we needed them and he would store the rest for us, oh, and pay as we go, so we paid for only the hay we needed. Over the years he taught us Wyoming basics like forecasting the weather, managing pastures, tractor loading and growing grass in this high desert. We listened to his optimism and wisdom along with tales from his big European trip and felt his heart ache at the loss of his beloved daughter.
I have been buying hay for my horses for a lot of years now and have met many a good hay farmer, but he is the most optimistic hay man I have ever met. Always a kind word, a smile and takes all the time in the world to catch up with you and your own tales. Over the years when people have asked who I bought my hay from and I tell them farmer Wayne, every person smiles and says, now that’s a good, honest man.
Proud to know you, Wayne, thanks for the western-style education and may the Lord bless you and keep you.