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Rupert man cuts hay the old fashioned way

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Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2011 5:43 pm

RUPERT - It's back to the future for one farm boy who is spending his golden years cutting hay fields with an early 20th century hay cutter.

Lep Moseley says he's perfectly content to spend his time cutting grass on his rented nine acres. He relies on a 1920s McCormick Deering pulled by two Belgium horses named Russ and Annie.

It takes about a day and a half to cut the hay that would take just a couple of hours to cut with a 21st century harvester.

"That would take all the fun out of it," he said.

Moseley is in no hurry to get anywhere. His time spent driving the grass cutter is like a trip down memory lane. It takes him back to his youth where he spent many a day with his grandfather Jewel Moseley who had the young Lep "help" with the family's farm.

"My fondest memories are of him out doing hay and cultivating corn with the horses. I thought I was doing something, but I think he was keeping me out of the way," he said.

When a visitor guesses that Moseley gets a rush of nostalgia while he cuts hay, and that all those sweet childhood memories compress into one as he works, he readily agrees.

"Yeah, something like that. Yeah, exactly. You hit that right on the nose," he said.

Eventually Moseley's grandfather purchased tractors.

"He never did use them. The only reason he bought all those tractors was that he made too much money. It was either give the money to Uncle Sam or buy a couple of tractors: he bought a couple tractors," he said.

Grandpa continued relying on his horses who proved to be more friends than equipment for the older Moseley, his grandson said.

"I think he didn't want to be out there in the field by himself. He wanted some company. He liked being with the horses. He did it that way all his life," he said.

Moseley spent Thursday and Friday cutting his hay field. He got quite a bit of attention while he did so. Travelers slowed down to watch him, and one visitor got out to take pictures, Moseley said.

"It makes me feel good. I'm kind of a show off anyway. It really is a novelty," he said.

Moseley spent his professional life working on various ranches and farms before retiring. He and companion Linda are the parents of six children and the grandparents of seven. They also have "a couple of great-grandkids," he said.

What does Linda think of Moseley's antique grass cutter?

"She ain't no farm girl. She thinks it's all right. She don't get in my way about it," he said.

Moseley purchased the hay cutter from the Dickie Anderson Ranch in Albion. Declo's Ray Bagby restored and painted the old machinery.

Moseley bought it because he could.

"I wanted it because I wanted to play with it. It's kind of a menagerie, but it's fun," he said.

Developed in the 1830s by Cyrus Hall McCormick, the hay cutter replaced the scythe that farm workers held in their hands while cutting crops. It sped up farm production significantly and motivated the creation of other automated farm equipment.

Fast forward to 2011, and harvesters come with computers, internet service, air conditioning and heating. Moseley says that's nice, but he'll stick with his McCormick-Deering.

"And they went to the moon," he shrugged.

Moseley plans to gather the cut hay with the aid of his old machinery.

"We'll rake it with the horses," he said, but added that he'll have somebody with a modern tractor "come in and bale it with a big old baler."

In the meantime, Moseley is content to take his time cutting the hay.

"I have lots of time. Just like the old timers, I have lots of time. It's just fun. I just enjoy it," he said.

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