by Carol Dunn
For those of you [like me] who didn’t grow up in Colorado, you may need a little tutoring on the subject of baling wire. You can find sleek, shiny, silver baling wire for sale at hardware and farm supply stores. Contrary to what you might think at first, this is not wire named after a guy named Baling. Instead, it is a flexible type of all-purpose wire, in the same genetic family as duct tape, that’s used to wire bumpers onto old pickup trucks, mend fences, roast hot dogs over a campfire, and tie your garbage can to the mailbox on windy days. In fact the thing it’s LEAST suited for is baling hay and straw.
Far be it from me to refer to the western method of baling as “backward,” BUT in the 1960s (that’s almost 60 years ago) twine replaced baling wire where I come from. Matter of fact, as a teenager, I thought baling wire was slang for some generic stuff you carried along on a motorcycle trip in case you hit a pothole and the muffler fell off. When we baled hay on our farm, we used twine. I don’t think there was one person in Pennsylvania who would have considered tying up bales with WIRE.
You see, twine doesn’t poke you when you grab a bale of hay. Twine doesn’t wrap itself around your lawn mower blade and make it stop turning when you are mowing the lawn. Twine doesn’t rust. Twine doesn’t reach up, grab your boot and trip you when you’re walking through the field where your neighbor’s cows came over to visit last winter and ripped apart those bales of weeds you were using as a windbreak. Yes, twine seems to be a far superior product to use for baling. AND YET, you can still find bales of hay and straw around here tied up with rusted baling wire, which, as long as we’re being honest, will break at the worst possible moment – that being when you’ve got ahold of the bale and are lowering it down from the hayloft toward your face.
The industry has found a solution to the rusty baling wire situation – big round bales. I don’t think this is the scientific name, but you know what I mean. Nowadays, western balers just roll the hay up like a jelly roll and wrap it in an esthetically pleasing wrapper. But you just KNOW there’s about 170 tons of baling wire sitting in barns all over our region – just waiting to make YOUR life easier.