Your Hay Bales Are Dumb

no longer will this seasonal decoration go uncriticized

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Joe Maurer

Why do you people have little bales of hay on your doorsteps? Why do you have dried-out cornstalks bundled together next to your mailbox? I understand you are a fan of the autumn season – and perhaps you’re an enthusiast of home décor – but these harvest time imitations are just weird. Did you grow up on a farm? If so, did you like it? If so, why don’t you move back onto a farm which, I assume, would be lousy with hay bales?

Gourds – of many shapes, sizes, and hues – are at least functional beyond their whimsical appearance. You can cook them. You can eat them. You can feed them to your neighborhood’s raccoons. Hay bales? Unless you have a mule stabled out back, I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish.

Maybe you’re simply a fan of all things farm-related. If so, I’m led to believe, that you’d love to have a full-sized hay bale to decorate your home – one of those massive, round, modern hay bales, perhaps shrink-wrapped in thick white plastic to defend it against the harsh winter to come. You could set it right in front of your door.


Hay bales? Unless you have a mule stabled out back, I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish.


Or maybe you’d like to go in the other direction on the timeline of hay bale technology. Maybe you’d like your yard to harken back to the days before twine was invented and the industrious hay farmer had to simply make giant piles of hay out in the fields. As far as autumn curb appeal is concerned, this seems pretty innovative. You’ll need to source some local, un-baled hay – no easy task (as neither Michael’s nor the Menards garden center stock it), but it’s worth the extra effort. You’d be the talk of the block.

I can’t wait to see the look on Todd’s dumb face when you pull this off, man.
Speaking of corn shocks, The Corn Shocks would be a great name for an indie band specializing in Midwest anthem rock, but I digress.

If I may offer some more decorating tips, go all in on the scarecrow. You should absolutely sink a 10-foot landscape timber into your lawn and hoist up a man-sized scarecrow dressed in real people clothes with a creepy burlap sack stuffed with old spongy potatoes for a head. That half-sized scarecrow you’ve got out front holding a dilapidated sign for the “Pun’kin Patch?” That scarecrow just ain’t scarin’ no crows, pardon my hobo grammar.

And what the hell? Why not toss out some random farm implements while you’re at it? A sickle here, a barley fork there, who cares? Roll an old wooden thresher into the driveway – it’s not like it’s illegal. If you’re going for a more 21st-century agriculture vibe, park a corn combine out front so kids can play on it.

Unfortunately, I highly doubt any of you will take my suggestions to heart. You’ll just stick with your puny little bales, haphazardly stacked upon your porticos and within your foyers, no matter how ridiculous they may be.  

At least these decorations constitute some kind of bond with the harvest season. They can still remind us that autumn is the time of year when human beings – faceless, nameless people out there in the fields – are busy reaping the food they’ve spent precious months growing for us. Over thousands of years, we have adapted to the fleeting time in which Mother Nature grants us permission to grow. And it’s amazing. Most people won’t think about all this after seeing the thousandth hay bale or bunch of corn stalks on someone’s step, but maybe they should. It’s all in how you look at it.

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