The day after dealing with a flat tire, I received a more pleasant reminder of how self-sufficiency often involves relying on others.
It began with a knock on the door while I was cooking dinner. Because we live 45 miles from town and a mile off a rarely traveled county road (and this time of year have three cattle gates to pass through), we don’t get many knocks on our front door. The propane delivery guy showed up without warning the week before. Aside from that, we get unannounced visitors maybe three times a year. So, a knock on the door startled me.
It was the neighbor who rolled by as Mike’s Garage fixed my flat tire the day before. For a moment, I wondered if he was checking in on me. But then I looked down the driveway and saw his truck and flatbed trailer loaded with hay bales. He had brought the hay we ordered.
There’s something reassuring about having six and a half tons of hay delivered. It took us awhile to find a nearby farmer who could deliver quality, mixed grass and alfalfa hay, and this neighbor has been great for the last few years. He lives about 10 miles down canyon, which is very, very close in these parts. As the hawk flies, there are perhaps four other ranchers or full-time residents between us and him in that direction.
Jerry would usually direct and help with the unloading, but he left for Portland the day before. Thankfully, another neighbor accompanied our hay provider. He hopped on our tractor to push the bales off.
With the sun setting, the yaks watched from across the pasture we just reseeded. They know what bales are and are always curious about trucks coming or going. Are they bringing treats? More yaks? Taking calves away? Bringing visitors they know?
Like many early homesteaders, the couple who lived on this acreage into the early sixties grew their own hay. They planted and harvested with horse drawn equipment, much of which is still sitting and rusting in an old pasture. And as they grew older, they had to give up farming and move to town. We might have to do the same some day. But having someone else grow this beautiful hay and deliver it quickly and painlessly by truck makes what we’re doing here all the more possible. We’ve talked about growing our own hay, but it’s one more thing. And we’re already behind on house-finishing, fencing, landscaping, yak training and more. So we make strategic choices about what we can hire out. We feel good about supporting a neighbor who already has the know-how and equipment for raising and baling hay.
It’s late September now, and the yaks still have plenty of grass. But it’s reassuring to know that we have this hay ready for them when the snow begins piling up. It will carry them through March, nourishing pregnant moms as well as the current calves slowly being weaned.
Hay is a good reminder of all that I love about this season: harvesting, stocking up. And it’s another good reminder of interdependence. Self-sufficiency isn’t about doing everything yourself. It’s about knowing when to lean on others.