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Mortimer Snert and the Bale Feeder

It was a silage day in the neighbourhood when Mortimer Snert arrived at the farm for his weekly dose of abuse and humiliation. Now before he ventured out that way, he made a stop by the local Atwoods farm and cowboy store. This was precipitated by a request from his mother, who had been by earlier that week shopping for bale feeders, since all the ones residing on the farm had somehow been mutilated beyond recognition. She had given him very specific directions as to which bale feeder she wanted, and since the Atwoods was right on the way to the farm, Mort decided that he would just drop by there on the way out and snag some feeders.

The Atwoods opened at 12:00, which was no big deal, since Mort was not scheduled to appear at the farm until 13:00 so he arrived at the store as soon as the doors opened, and made his way directly to the service counter since he had no idea where the bale feeders are hidden. Attracting the attention of the nice girl who worked there, he explained that he wanted to buy 3 round bale feeders, the red ones, the ones with the metal skirt at the bottom to keep the hay from falling out. He was immediately met with a deer in the headlights look from the girl, and suddenly felt the air pressure around him drop significantly and she responded with, oh, uh, those are outside. To which Mort reminded her that he really would like to buy 3 of these things, would she be able to sell them to him or did he need to go somewhere else to purchase them.

Indeed, the girl could sell him some, but which ones was it that he wanted again? Feeling a touch of déjà vu, he repeated that he wanted the red ones. The ones with the skirt at the bottom. 3 of them. So the girl typed furiously into her terminal, stared at the results for about 5 minutes, and finally grabbed a radio and squawked for some guy to come to the service desk. Eventually the guy showed up, and looked at her, then at Mort, then the girl looked at Mort, who decided at that point that it was his turn, so he patiently explained to the guy that he would really and truly like to buy 3 bale feeders. The ones with the metal skirt on them. The red ones. The ones that were out front. Those ones. 3 of them.

Which caused the guy to look back over at the girl, who explained that she could not find the price in the terminal for those. This caused the guy to go around behind the counter, and type furiously into the terminal, stare at it, stare at the girl, and then both of them turned to Mort and gave him the deer in the headlights look. Mort, who was normally a really patient person, realized that he had been there about twice as long as he had expected to, looked pointedly at his watch, then back at the two behind the counter, and raised a Spock eyebrow at them.

This caused the guy to grab the radio and squawk someone else up to the counter. When the second guy showed up, the counter people told him to go out front and see if he could find out the price on the bale feeders, but the way they said it was bell feeders, since they were proper wanna be cowboys and all. So the second guy looked at them, and asked what the Hell a bell feeder was. And they’re like, bell feeders, the round bell feeders, as if that were any clarification. All 3 people were now getting the deer in the headlights look from the second guy, so Mort turned to the guy, and very patiently repeated himself for about the 50th time that day that he would like to buy 3 bale feeders, the red ones, the ones with the metal skirt on the bottom. 3. Red. Metal skirt. He would like to buy them. Was that a possibility?

The second guy, being the perceptive person that he was, finally snapped, and goes, oh, bale feeders, why didn’t you guys say so in the first place. Now which ones did you want? Does it matter? By this time Mort was quite enjoying himself, because all of these people were like in high school, and they were all urban cowboys complete with the huge belt buckle with the cow on the front, and the little holster that housed their pliers on one side and the buck knife on the other side, and the jeans that looked like they were shrink fitted on them, and the boots that were made of some long deceased reptilian entity and the huge ridiculous cowboy hats. And here was this olde crusty looking hippy fellow trying to explain to these youngsters the concept of round bale feeders in a language that was easily understandable to anyone who bothered to listen. At that point, Mort was having a really difficult time trying to maintain a straight face.

Finally, guy #2 went out front where the bale feeders were hidden, rooted around for a bit, came back in and told the girl that there was no price on them. The girl asked him if he could manage to get her the bar code number from one of them, if he could do that, she could look it up from that. So guy #2 went back out to the secret place where the bale feeders were hidden, rooted around for a bit more, and came back in with the bar code number, gave it to the girl, who typed furiously into her terminal, stared at it, and told the guy that it was not in there. She then asked him if that was the whole bar code number or just the middle of it. He didn’t understand what she meant, so she proceeded to show him a picture of a bar code, and asked him if he got all the numbers or just the ones in the middle. He had just gotten the ones in the middle, so she sent him back out to get the entire number. So the guy, being the brilliant person that he was, grabbed a radio and went back out front where he proceeded to squawk the bar code number back to her. She then proceeded to type furiously into her terminal, stared at it for about 3 minutes, and explained that it still wasn’t there. Mort, being the ever so helpful person that he was, asked her if they ever sold any of these things, or were they just out on display with no intention of getting rid of them.

By this time, they had attracted the attention of the Management, because by then, there were no less than 5 of these cowboy children crowded around the service desk, in addition to Mort, and by the looks of things, some olde hippy feller was giving the children a bunch of crap, so some other olde cowboy came stomping downstairs, and barged into the middle of them and looking pointedly at Mort, asked what the Hell the problem was here. Mort, who was now rapidly running out of both time and patience, looked at the guy and explained that all he wanted to do was buy some bale feeders, and was rudely interrupted by the cowboy manager who wanted to know what the problem with that was. Mort explained then that they were unable to find them in the system, which precipitated the cowboy guy to storm around behind the counter, type furiously into the terminal, and stare at it for about 30 seconds. He then reached under the counter, dredged out an actual hard copy of a catalog, leafed through it, and showed Mort a picture and asked him if that was the one. That was indeed the one that Mort wanted, in fact, he wanted 3 of them, so he thrust the catalog at the girl, and told her to type that in. So the typed it in, printed a receipt, and handed it to Mort.

In the meantime, he had been discussing these feeders with some of the children who had been involved in the process, trying to determine just how many of these things would fit in the back of the pickup truck and did they come assembled or in pieces. One of the kids was pretty sure that they came assembled, and he thought that they had gotten 2 of them in the back of a pickup truck one day. Maybe. The next kid thought they came in pieces, and how many you could get in a truck depended on what kind of truck you had. Mort told him what kind of truck he had, and immediately got the deer in the headlights look. He suggested that if they couldn’t get all 3 of them in the back, that Mort could come back and get the remainder, but he thought that they had gotten 3 in before. He had done that one day. He was pretty sure about that.

So Mort had purchased 3 bale feeders by now, and had paid for them, and by then, all the cowboy children had disappeared, and it was just Mort and the cash register girl. He asked her where these feeders were stowed, and was there anyone that could help him load them. She grabbed the radio and squawked at the guys that were just there to help him load them up. Not knowing for sure where the feeders were located, he asked her, yet again, and she pointed in a westerly direction, and told him that they were out there by that one trailer, you can’t miss them. So Mort headed out the door, got in his truck and saw the children heading across the parking lot in the complete opposite direction than the one the cash register girl pointed out. He decided that it might be wise to just follow these people across the parking lot and see where they ended up.

Where they ended up was by the fences, which in some sort of convoluted cowboy logic must have made sense, after all bale feeders were kind of like fences, they kept the bales in and the cows out. Mort pulled up to the bale feeder fence pile, and one of the kids was busy unlocking this this huge padlock and pulling out this thick steel cable that was interwoven between all the fence things and the bale feeder things, and started peeling off sections. Sure enough, they came unassembled, and the kid started heaving sections into the back of Mort’s truck. After about 7 sections, the kid looked at Mort and asked him just how many bale feeders he had purchased, maybe Mort should show him the receipt from inside. Which Mort proceeded to do, and the kid tossed the last 2 sections on. Sure enough, 3 feeders would fit in the back, so the kid asked Mort if he had anything to tie them down with. He did, and they strapped the sections securely down and Mort was on his merry way.

The whole bale feeder purchase fiasco had lasted almost an hour, so Mort drove like a madman and got to the farm just in time for lunch. As soon as lunch was over, his dad headed in for his after lunch nap. Mort thought that this would be a prime time to go assemble the bale feeders without his dad’s supervision, so he and his mother were in the process of sneaking out the door when the dog, who was in the habit of yelling at anything that moved, commenced doing such. This woke his dad up from his nap, and he came around to see what all the fuss was about. Trying to head him off at the pass, Mort’s mother explained that they were just going to go look at the cows and that they would be right back. His dad would have none of that, anything that involved cows, he had to be in the big middle of. So they all proceeded out the door accompanied by the dog, who was still yelling, and past Mort’s truck which was loaded to the gills with Do-It-Yourself bale feeders, at which time his dad stopped and asked what all the stuff in the truck was all about. Mort started to explain that it was bale feeders, which precipitated his dad asking whether Mort owned a cow or something.

No, Mort did not own a cow, or something, these bale feeders were going into the cow pasture to replace all the damaged/destroyed ones that were there. It was at that point that the real fun began, because his dad saw that the feeders were in pieces, and he’d not had his nap yet, and he couldn’t stand to see someone doing something and he’s not, so he told Mort to just dump the feeders off over there by the barn and they’d put them together some other day in all their spare time. Mort was going to have none of that, and told his dad that, no, he wasn’t going to dump them off over by the barn, because he knew that if he did that, they would still be there 6 months from then, he was going to take them out in the cow pasture and put them together right then. So his dad pulled the You’re Not Supposed To Work On Sunday trip, and Mort informed him that he didn’t have to work on Sunday, Mort would take care of the process, go back in and take a nap and everything will be fine. So Mort got in his truck, and his mother got in the other side and the dog got in the back and they backed out and left his dad standing there sputtering.

They arrived in the cow pasture, found a place to dump off the first feeder, unloaded it and were in the process of installing the bolts when his dad showed up in his truck. Now these feeders were in 3 sections, with 2 bolts per section to hold them together, so it should have only taken a few minutes to assemble them under normal conditions, which was quickly becoming not the case. So his dad got out and was standing there shuffling around and it was pretty obvious that he didn’t want to be there, and he was complaining about everything, the bolts were too long, this one thing was bent, it was too cold to be out there working on Sunday when they could have just dumped them off by the barn and they could have put them together when it wasn’t Sunday and it wasn’t so blasted cold out and they shouldn’t have had such long bolts for those things, how come they put such long bolts on them. It was at this point that Mort’s mother had had enough of this, and handed him a bolt and told him to shut up and put the bolt in. So he went over to the only place that didn’t have a bolt in, still complaining, and fussed with the bolt and the nut, which he finally got in, and now he was standing there with a wrench fiddling with the bolt trying to get it to tighten.

By this time, Mort had all the other bolts installed and tightened, and was standing back watching his dad working on his own bolt. Finally, his dad decided that there was something wrong with his bolt, it was stripped out or something, Mort should come look at it because it wouldn’t tighten. So Mort went over, put his wrench on the bolt and tightened it right up. Mort asked his dad to see the wrench he was using. It was a ¾ inch wrench, and the bolt was a 9/16, and where he came up with this wrench was anyone’s guess, because Mort asked him, and it had evidently been in the truck, and it should have fit, his dad had used it for something else the other day, and it had worked fine for that, whatever it was, he was pretty sure.

Having completed the first feeder, Mort, his mother and the dog loaded into his pickup, and his dad loaded into his, complete with the wrong sized wrench, and they headed out, Mort and crew to the next cow pasture, and his dad back to the house. The next feeder was in a different pasture, and they had it unloaded and partially assembled by the time his dad figured out that they were not going back to the house. He arrived at the second location, mad because Mort was still out in the cold working on Sunday with long bolts which they should have not used because they should have just dumped them off by the barn and put them together next summer. Mort's mother, who was getting tired of the incessant complaining, handed his dad a bolt and he went over to the only place that didn't have bolts. Now the problem there was that the place where this feeder was located was not necessarily the most level place on the farm, so the ends didn't necessarily match, nor did the bolt holes, one would have to raise up on one section to get a match so the bolt would go in properly.

This was something that entirely escaped Mort's dad, and which brought about a renewed session of complaints. Mort, who was used to this kind of attitude from his dad, was completely ignoring the tirade and working to get his bolts in when suddenly there was a loud bang, and the bale feeder lurched. Looking around to see what had happened, Mort discovered that his dad, who was known to act like a 3-year-old on occasion, had reared back and kicked the section of feeder that he was working on, and was now hopping around on one foot yelling loudly. At this point, Mort went over, relieved him of his bolt and his wrong sized wrench, and told him that they had this feeder firmly under control, he should just go back to the house and take a nap and everything would be fine. Instead of doing that, his dad went over and sat in his truck, fuming because Mort was still out there messing with those blasted feeders, and he could not go back while that was still happening.

As soon as his dad saw Mort and his mother loading up the truck, he decided that they were done for the day and beat a hasty retreat for the house. The next feeder was going to the other farm, which was about a mile away, and on a different street, so Mort watched his dad turn in the driveway going to the house, and as soon as he saw him pull into the car port, Mort flashed by and made his way to the other farm. As they were passing the driveway, Mort's mother was wondering how long it would take for his dad to realize that they weren't coming back to the house and whether or not he would go looking for them, and if he would manage to make it to the other farm before they finished.

Luck was with them on that, because they managed to get the feeder offloaded and assembled in record time, and arrived back at the house, only to find Mort's dad to be nowhere in sight. They noticed that his pickup was now back down in the cow pasture where they had put the first feeder, and about a half an hour later, he showed up at the house wondering where the Hell they'd been, he'd been looking all over for them, and they were nowhere to be found. Mort's mother asked him if he'd looked at the other farm. Yes, he had, he was just there. She told him that they were there also, but when they got back to the house, he was gone, so they just stayed put. Where had he gone then? He couldn't remember, but he was way past due for his nap, and spent the rest of the afternoon snoring in his chair with the TV on.

So both farms were now adorned with shiny new red bale feeders, the ones with the skirt at the bottom, 3 of them, and everyone lived happily ever after. At least until the next time his dad fed the cows with the John Deere. But that's another story.