The Wilson Story

Base

    The Island Ranching Company : Alfalfa and Grass Hay

    The Island Ranching Company owned several properties including Antelope Island in the great Salt Lake.  One property important to me was a section of land (one square mile = one section) bordering Payson on the north- east.  This property was on our end of town.  We considered the property as a pheasant hunting property for Governor J. Ernest Bamberger and friends. The property had a large mansion by our standards that was maintained for guests, a ranch house for the foreman Nelson Witt.  Mr. Witt was a tall slim man with a straw hat rolled cowboy style, boots, and a cigar in his mouth at all times.  He drove the large John Deere tractor pulling the hay bailer.  He may have cut and raked the hay also but at times used us for cutting and raking.  

    The objective was to pick up the bales in the field and stack then in the nearby “feed yard” for the cows in the winter. The cows which were up in the mountain ranges during the summer would be brought down for winter and fed from the summer stock pile. We worked seven days a week from eight to five, thus we worked our eight hours with a lunch hour often spent eating a sandwich and telling stories and just talking. We received the grand sum of $0.75 per hour. Three young men 16 years and up constituted a hauling crew.  Darrell Holden, Ronald Warr, and I were one of the longer working crews.  We were expected to haul six truckloads of hay per day.  Three before lunch and three after.  We had a loader that would pick up the bales in the field and elevate them up for stacking on the truck.  One of us would drive and two would stack on the bales on the truck.  The driver would then unload the bales from the truck to the stack.  We would change jobs every load thus each got to do every job before and after lunch.  The hay was stacked very carefully to give the proper shape to protect the feed from the elements.  Bales on the first layer were stacked with wires not touching the ground parallel to the ground, the remaining layers were stacked on the other side.  A good stack had a gradual slope because it had fewer bales on the top layers.  The corners bales were placed to tie in the corners much like a brick mason does on a building.  

    In the Payson area we got three good crops of alfalfa each growing season.  This kept us busy almost from the time school let out until time to go back in the fall.  During the slow time in the summer we would harvest the native grass or meadow hay.  This was much more of a challenge to stack than alfalfa.  They told us that we had to be careful with grass because it was like stacking bars of soap.  All to often the end of a stack would fall and either ruin some of the feed or we would get to rebuild the stack.  

We had some changes in the work crew that was interesting.  The first was a couple of city kids from New York City came through to get a taste of western culture or hard work.  Evidently, they were friends of the Bamburger family.  It was interesting one had no interest in working and was in misery all of the time.  The second was able to work and had a curiosity that served him well.  One time he caught a black snake and was asking all kinds of questions while his “friend” was horrified.  We need four on the crew two westerners and two easterners to get the work done.  We almost worked them to death doing our standard loads.

    For a period one year Clifford “Tiny” Holden (Darrel's older brother) and I constituted the hauling crew.  The two of us were able to haul seven loads a day.  Tiny would toss the bales from the truck and I would work as fast as I could then he would come and help me stack.  Tiny was the difference, he made me work harder and he did the work of two people hence seven vs six loads. I can still see the piles of bales that he had thrown at me.  He not only got them off the truck he tossed them to where I needed them. In addition to a great worker Tiny was a great lineman in football, center on the basketball team, and great at track.  He put the shot and ran the hurdles making it to the state championships in both events.  He fell in the hurdles breaking his hand and then still placed fifth in the shot put with a broken throwing hand.  Like John Henry he was a mountain of a man but he was a quite soft spoken man.

Base