The Truth About Hay and Straw: What You Need to Know (Please!)

Ever had one of those moments where the tiniest detail just gets under your skin? Let me tell you about a calm spring evening, a dirt bike, and an ag society event that did just that.

So, picture this: the evening was warm, the air was filled with the gentle hum of crickets, and I had just finished up the chores at the barn. As I strolled back to the house, I noticed our son had the shop door open and was busy with some mysterious task. Curious, I wandered over to find Anne chatting with Ezdon, who was busy washing our old dirt bike. The very same one that saw the last of our amateur racing days several years ago.

I couldn't help but joke, "What's up, Ez? Going racing tomorrow?"

To my surprise, Ezdon replied, "Well, actually, yeah. The local ag society is hosting a fun day tomorrow with barrel racing—not with horses, but with ATVs and dirt bikes!" He explained how the event was part of a day filled with demolition derbies and tractor pulls. Given the popularity of ATVs these days, it seemed like a fitting addition.

Saturday morning rolled around, and Anne and I decided we had to support our son. We made our way to the event, cheered Ezdon on in the pits, and then found ourselves a spot on the old bleachers. The MC was full of energy, getting the crowd pumped as the younger kids took to the course for their training runs.

And then, it happened. The charismatic MC instructed the kids to exit the racecourse across the finish line, which was marked by—wait for it—bales of hay on either side.

Except, it wasn’t hay. It was straw.

I glanced at Anne, my head firmly in my hands, and covered my ears in horror. Did he really just refer to that straw as hay at an ag society event? Yes, yes he did.

Now, I get it, this might not be a big deal for everyone, but for me? It’s a trigger, like when a nurse watches a medical scene in a movie and cringes at the inaccuracies, or a chef scoffs at unrealistic kitchen antics. My pet peeve? Hay and straw.

Do you know the difference? I make sure every young person who steps foot on our farm does. Hay is green, cut plants baled for animals to eat. Straw, on the other hand, is the dry, dead stems left after wheat grain is harvested, used for animals to lay on. This knowledge is practically a rite of passage around here.

Despite my inner turmoil, I took a deep breath and reminded myself to stay stoic. The event was fun, the MC was doing a great job, and everyone was having a blast. Ezdon didn’t win a trophy, but we had a fantastic time reminiscing about the days gone by.

In the end, it wasn’t really a problem for anyone else, just me. And you know what? That’s okay. We all have our things that bug us, but we have the power to choose how we react. Don’t let a small detail spoil a great day. Remember, you're always in control of how you react.

Farmer Rod
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