I ordered pea straw a couple of weeks ago. I told them there was no rush. They took me at my word.
The straw arrived on Sunday. I happened to see the ute as it came down the road, and guessed it was my straw. Finally.
The old blue truck was piled with bales, but it wasn’t nearly as crowded in back as it was in front. Three men, the youngest not a day less than 68, were squashed into the cab and rattled like bottles up the gravel drive. A little dog scampered back and forth across their laps, eager to jump out and explore.
“The men grinned at me as they drew up to the house.”
“The usual place?”
“Yes,” I said, “But we’ll just stack it next to the shed—I’ve got to do some organising in there before I can put the pea straw in.”
The driver pulled the ute across the lawn and into the rough paddock, bouncing over ruts and hillocks I was sure he’d bottom out on. He stopped just beside the little hay shed.
“That’s the closest we’ve gotten yet!”
The dog leapt out of the cab, and the three men unfolded themselves and stumbled out. They began hefting bales as they took them off the truck and stacked them beside the shed.
“One, two…So, when’s it gonna rain again, eh, Robinne?”
“I don’t know but any day now is fine with me,” I answered.
“That’s five, six…”
“Sure is dry.”
“Seven, eight… Oh. We don’t know how to count. That’s only nine.”
I’d ordered ten bales.
“Aw, all I’ve got is sixty dollars,” I joked. “Let me see if I can come up with fifty-four.”
“Nah, don’t worry about it. We’ll bring round another bale some day when we’re coming by.”
“Yeah, we’ll be coming past at some point, we’ll just toss one out the door.” The old farmer grinned, but I know he was only half kidding, and I reminded myself to keep an eye out for a bale of straw on the verge.
So the men and dog squeezed themselves back into the truck and backed out. I watched in fear as they did so—last year, they’d nearly gone over the metre-high drop onto the kids’ playing field. But they managed to back out without flying over the edge or taking out any of the plantings along the way.
“Thanks!” I called, waving as they rattled back out the drive.
I smiled. Every pea straw delivery is sort of a James Herriot moment. Even if I didn’t need it, I might still order straw every year, just to see those guys…