Thanks, Mr. Ratchetstrap!
900 pounds of organic goodness that didn't end up on the highway.
I like to think of the inventor of the ratchet strap as a man named Henry… Henry Ratchetstrap. As I travelled down the interstate a few weeks ago, my load suddenly shifted, and this enormous round bale nearly fell off. These simple ratchet straps kept a half ton of beautiful July hay off Rt. 7. I will admit, seeing a round bale at this angle in my rearview mirror did a great job of clearing the sinuses.
Well done, Mr. Ratchetstrap. Well done indeed.
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Forrest Pritchard is a full-time sustainable farmer and New York Times bestselling author, holding a BA in English and a BS in Geology from William & Mary. Smith Meadows, his farm, was one of the first “grass finished” operations in the country, and has sold at leading farmers’ markets in the Washington DC area for two decades. Pritchard's books have received starred reviews from The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, NPR, and more.
Crisis narrowly averted! Gotta love those ratchet straps!
Exactly… like that old Bob Weir introduction to Monkey & the Engineer… “from tragedy impending to tragedy narrowly averted,” ha.
You were, indeed, lucky. Several years ago not far from my farm, someone lost a big square bale of lovely alfalfa along the road. You could see where they had just pushed it to the side of the ditch since the strings had all broken. Not wanting to see such beautiful hay go to waste, I fired up the truck and told the kiddo to go fetch us a pair of pitchforks.
“Oh my god, what if someone sees me? I’m going to be so embarrassed.”
“That’s at least $75 of hay. How much was that dress at Polly Sue’s I bought for you on Sunday?”
She shoveled every stem into the back of the truck before I crept home so as not to lose too much.
I would later find out from the farmer who lost the bale (and three others that didn’t break open) when navigating the curve too fast without his ratchet straps that those bales weighed 800 pounds!
“Can I pay you for the bale?” I asked.
“No ma’am. I drove past when you were loading it up. You gals earned every bit of it.”
Sandy, that’s a great story! I’m relieved to know that I wouldn’t be the only one to load up that ‘free’ hay 🙂
Really want to know the name of the inventor? CMSgt. James W. Smith. He was a Loadmaster in the USAF and came up with the design out of necessity after using logging chain tie downs in aircraft to secure loads. Chains were heavy and did not have the adjustments the ratchet strap did.
I discovered this one day while cursing like a sailor trying to get one to cooperate with me. I was a young teenager at the time and the ratchet strap was much smarter than me at the time. I mumbled something like “I’d like to get ahold of the SOB that invented this crap!” Dad then spoke up and said he was standing right in front of me! Yes, to my amazement I discovered something new that day about my Dad. He received a $900 bonus check from the Military for this design. Today someone is getting rich off these things, but it sure isn’t the Smith family!
Awesome story. Thanks for sharing this!
Hi, we are writing a book about the history of the cargo securing. There isn’t too many information about the inventor of the lashing straps. I don’t know if the history of the Sgt James W. Smith is certain, but I would know more about this. Have you more information about this history?. Thank you so much.
This post is in jest, there’s no factual information here. Good luck in your project!