hay balesHey, hay, hay! How do you feel about hay bales? Yes, what comes to your mind when you hear the word hay? Cattle munching on the leafy legume? Halloween scarecrows stuffed with the scratchy foliage? A bedding cushion for your outdoor plants?

When I think of hay, I think of hope. Hope in hay? Yep. Well, after last week’s drive through eastern Colorado and all across Nebraska, I can’t stop thinking about the hope that hay provides. (Trust me, I do have a point.)

Field after field, ranch after ranch on my drive, I spotted tens of thousands of hefty, ole round hay bales. The interstate seemed to be the only thing separating expansive swaths of hay fields. Some farmers even baled cornstalks into round bales. Ya learn something new every day!

Peaceful Prairieland

Glancing out my vehicle at the round bales dotting the flat Midwest landscape, I sensed both a calming peace and hope. Harvested hay symbolizes completion and a wrap-up to the spring and summer growth. The at-rest round hale bales are tucked in for winter and remind us of life’s seasons.

While the rest of the world can feel like soggy straw in a handbasket, fresh hale bales represent an ongoing rhythm of thriving and purpose. Alfalfa and prairie hay fields sprout up in spring and are mowed and baled several times over summer into early fall. Throughout the year, but particularly in winter, baled hay feeds horses, cattle, goats, pigs, donkeys, rabbits and other livestock. Today’s hay produces tomorrow’s steaks, burgers, chops, milkshakes and cheese. Hay nourishes you.

So when I drive across the country’s peaceful prairieland and smile at the plethora of hay bales, I think of hope. A hope that blocks out the relentless news of crime, corruption and catastrophes. Hope that life is wearisome at times, but new seasons are ahead. Hope that refreshes the earth and prods forage to sprout and flourish in spite of drought, hail, floods or insects. Hay understands how to bend when weather and growing conditions say break.

America Runs on Hay

While much of the country may think “America runs on Dunkin’, that slogan should really be “America runs on hay.” Agriculture statistics report that the U.S. produces roughly 113 million tons of hay a year. When pastures or rangelands run thin on grass for grazing, farmers and ranchers pull out more hay.

In addition to animal feed, hay is paramount for nesting and bedding areas for animals, lining trails, covering up mud patches and protecting newly planted grass seed. According to biblical records, even baby Jesus nestled in hay upon his arrival in the Bethlehem manger. Hay housed the heavenly!

So are you sensing more hope just reading about hay? Not just because of the essential nutrition that hay provides, but because hay embodies a steadiness, a you-can-count-on-me stability in our dizzying world.

While the expression “make hay while the sun shines” advises that we make the most of an opportunity, I encourage us all to pause today from nibbling on our burger or goat cheese salad and simply bask in the steadiness of hope that hay brings to our world.

See, I told you had a point. 🙂