Too Wet For Sunday

image0Fred Stacey was a good manager. He ran his farm with discipline and hard work. When he began farming with his father in the early 1900’s, money was so tight it was hard for a man to have his own piece of land. So in 1929 Fred and Lew Buck went into business together, and rented the farm and big house on the square mile farm owned originally by Byron Sessions.

image1By that time C. A. Johnson, a rancher, owned the house and farm, and Fred eventually purchased it from him. First Lew Buck, and later Fred’s brother-in-law Ted South, lived with their families in half of the big house, next to the Staceys. Fred knew he could manage the big farm. He had learned good work habits from his father, John Stacey of Almy, Wyoming, but he put his own touch to it by marrying Christina Cox.

image2Christina had enough faith in God for both of them. Fred did the practical things. He worked his ranch, put up hay and grain for the winter, managed his cattle and barns, and provided a good living for his family. Christina was blessed by Fred’s hard work, but she knew the value of Fred’s spiritual side, and wanted him to go to church with her. She taught him the value of keeping the Sabbath Day holy and paying his tithing. Because Fred had such respect for his wife, he was willing to be obedient to the spiritual laws she espoused; and Fred was blessed by Christina’s faith. Their children were blessed by both of them.

That’s why it didn’t work very well to be partners with Lew Buck. Lew didn’t have a wife who taught him to go to church and keep the Sabbath Day holy. When he saw the cut hay drying in the field, he wanted to get it in on Sunday before the rains came and caused it to mold on the ground. For him there was no hope of help from a God who takes care of His children when they follow His rules. It was Lew Buck or nothing. There was endless friction, made even more intense by the fact that the two families lived on opposite sides of the same big brick house.

As the children grew they were drawn into the debate. One day Lew stomped into the house early Sunday morning with news. “Fred, we have to get the hay in today. It’s so dry, another day on the ground will ruin it. This one time we have to break your No-Work-On-Sunday Rule.”

image3Fred looked at Christina and hedged for time. He knew his twelve-year old son had inherited his own work ethic as well as his mother’s spiritual values. “Bill, you know how dry hay feels. Go out to the field and see if the cut hay is dry enough to get in. If you think we should do it today, we will.”

Bill went out the door and down the front steps of the big house. Followed by the dog, he ran to the field where they had cut hay many days earlier. It lay in great gray-green heaps all over the 20-acre field waiting to be loaded into the wagon and placed in tall haystacks for the winter feeding of cattle and sheep. He knew it was the lifeblood of the ranch. If there was no hay for the winter, there would be no cattle, no sheep, no money.

image4What they called hay was really alfalfa, imported from Chile in the 1850’s. A perennial legume which lives 10-20 years, alfalfa quickly spread all over the western United States as the seeds were carried to even the most isolated farms. Each tiny seed grew into a plant 2-3 feet high with a deep root system, at least several feet deep. Because it was drought tolerant and a good source of stored carbohydrates, alfalfa became a critically important crop in Utah.

Bill knew this was a serious decision, but he also trusted the God who commanded him to keep the Sabbath Day holy. He picked up several of the piles and squeezed the hay with his hands. It was obviously dry, but occasionally his hand felt a hint of moisture. It could go either way, but he knew what his decision must be.

Bill went home and settled the whole debate. “It’s too wet to put up on Sunday.” Lew was astonished at such an answer. Bill’s mother later spoke to him about being disrespectful to his elders, but Bill knew he was right. Even at his tender age, the Sabbath Day had become a day set apart from others, a day to spend with his family and learn from the scriptures. It was a day to go to church and learn what would help focus his mind on the things that really mattered.

For Bill Stacey, hay or car transmissions or paperwork or travel or anything else related to everyday work or recreation was always “too wet to put up on Sunday.”