Why I constantly have to remind myself to just do ONE thing at a time, we can do hard things…”one hay bale at a time”

My father is a 4th generation farmer/rancher. Growing up I never thought much about how hard-working my dad was. My dad had his regular day job—and farmed in his spare time…which meant he was gone pretty much every Saturday, holiday, or day off from his day job to work on the farm.

agriculture clouds country countryside
Photo by Markus Spiske on

As I’ve grown older a saying my dad told me has always stuck in my head…“one hay bale at a time.”  This phrase came when my dad and uncle were the ones in charge of bailing all the hay. My uncle looked out at the acres upon acres of hay and said to my dad “how will we ever get this all done?” My dad’s reply was “one hay bale at a time.” And he was right. Was it hard work getting all the hay bailed? Definitely. But my dad’s perspective was key. Don’t get caught up and overwhelmed with the amount of work to do, just do one thing at a time. You may feel like you will never get everything accomplished but you will. However, if you EXPECT to accomplish a lot in a very little amount of time, you’re hindering yourself and your abilities.

Another item to note, when my dad and uncle were working together they were stacking each hay bale by hand.

This was a HUGE undertaking to stack so many acres of hay by hand but they did it. How they did it was..”one hay bale at a time.”

Even more, most farmers don’t just get one crop of hay. To be able to make a decent profit a farmer will try for a number of different crops throughout the season. My dad always planted four crops of hay, thus, hauling and stacking hay happened not just once in the year, but four times.

One could get overwhelmed at thinking of the endless cycle of physical endurance it takes to stack and haul hay by hand. And yet, that was why my dad constantly lived by the motto “One hay bale at a time.”

Do we ever get caught up in life and think “we will never get everything accomplished that we need to?” I believe most adults have been stuck in this mindset more often than they’d like to admit.

That’s when I chime in and remind you “One hay bale at a time.”

When my husband comes home from work, overwhelmed with the stack of endless paperwork that seems to always grow as he chugs away in his office. I remind him “one hay bale at a time.”

When I look at the housework I have to do, while taking care of my two sweet toddlers, I constantly remind myself “one hay bail at a time.”

If you are struggling with personal issues in life, or mental health slumps that seem impossible to climb out of I will tell you from my experience with these same issues….

“One hay bale at a time.”

Yes we have to work at things in life. And yet, when we take in too much at a time, we will drown in our struggles. We are human, doing so many tasks at once or trying to conquer a hardship overnight isn’t realistic. Step-by-step we can endure hard things, or hard work, as long as we keep that perspective of “one hay bale at a time.”

We all know that Michaelangelo did not paint the Sistine Chapel in one setting. His motto would have been “one brush stroke at a time.”  In fact, if you research the history of Michaelangelo, you will find that it took him over four years to paint the Sistine Chapel! Even more, he had never painted frescoes before and he was learning the craft as he continued to work on this project.

So then why do we beat ourselves up when we can’t get something done in a timely matter. Or when we can’t get out of a “slump” overnight?

All I know is that when I catch myself getting overly frustrated at accomplishing the impossible, I tell myself to “Stop.”

I remind myself that all great accomplishments in life take hard work. Of course we should not procrastinate working hard, but we also need to give ourselves a break and enjoy the journey.

My dad is one who always has a smile on his face with a happy demeanor to match it. I can guarantee that while he was hauling and stacking bales of hay he was telling fun stories, probably listening to some great country music, or even just having some good long talks with his brother that worked right beside him.

His attitude and perspective were key in being a successful farmer because he didn’t let the amount of work overwhelm him, he just did all he could in the moment, and kept chipping away at it.

Now I can be honest and tell you, I did not inherit my dad’s natural positive perspective. In fact, I am much more like my uncle who looks at big projects or never ending piles of laundry with the thought of “how will I ever get everything done?”

(Below:my cute dad and I back in 2008. Showing off his nice grin and positivity for life)

Screen Shot 2019-10-16 at 5.02.56 PM

Nevertheless, I can see that as I constantly remind myself to be more like my dad and see that if we focus on “one hay bail at a time,” our burdens become lighter. Our endurance to complete a job or project or any accomplishment seem within reach if we remind ourselves to “take time to enjoy the journey.” Make the big “to-do” list fun as you chip away at it.

Yes, even housework can be fun if you turn on some fun music, listen to a podcast, or shut off all technology and enjoy getting lost in your mind for a bit.

If you continue to work, bit by bit, hay bail by hay bale, brush stroke by brush stroke…I know you can complete your task.

You can learn to become your own cheerleader. Yes it’s nice when you have a support system to cheer you on as well…but if that’s not the case for you, just know you can accomplish whatever you set out to do. Don’t fall into the pit of overwhelming despair and just keep chugging along.

I know I can do it, it’s a constant battle I remind myself of, and I know you can do it too!

IMG_2186                                       (Above: an actual photo of our family farm)

“One hay bale at a time,” can be your new motto to stick to and you’ll realize just how feasible hard things can become when you change your mindset, open up a new perspective, and believe in your abilities.

How do you keep perspective when feeling overwhelmed?

I always love to hear!


Until next time,



Christy Lee


Leave a Reply