The Hay, Tarp and Lead #1

You can call me a s-l-o-w learner with horses, but I get there eventually. I’ve been putting out hay in winter for many years, starting with four horses (2 mine) at the neighbor’s next door. I’d load a wheelbarrow and push it over ice, through snow and mud and drag it when it wouldn’t be pushed. On windy days, I put 2 bungee cords over the hay mound and hauled it to the best place for not blowing into the next county in 5 minutes. When my horses moved over the fence to my home, I loaded a pitchfork or took it in my arms and carried it anywhere there was no mud, wind, etc., in several trips. A friend of mine loads a sled, but she deals with rectangular bales. I buy 900-lb round bales, one at a time.

Alas, enter the tarp. Easy to load in the lean-to part of my barn, gather up corners, lightweight, hay equivalent to 4 armloads or pitchforks. Since taking these photos, I load even more hay and just pick up two corners and drag. The only tiny issue here is Boaz steps on the tarp halting the process and taking a bite. If they’ve had their jackets on overnight, I take them off, place them on the tarp and drag them out. So easy!

WRITING TIP: People often tell me the hardest part of writing for them is the lead, how to begin an article or story. For the next five blogs, I’m going to present five lead suggestions, using an article on Winterfrost Farm as the example. It’s a horse rescue in Radford, Va., known for the Ride-a-Rescue trail riding program which raises money to care for the horses. []

You may have as little as four seconds to capture a reader’s interest with your first sentence, so it must have some enticing tidbit to draw the reader into the next sentence. There are several good angles to consider for a lead, but first let’s rule out one: the question. When you ask a question, the reader’s attention is immediately turned to thinking of the answer. Rather than continue reading, s/he concentrates elsewhere in the brain for a plausible response. You’ve lost his or her attention. Questions in text illicit the same response, so avoid them altogether.

Lead #1 tip: Quotation. Go to,, or another source, type in a search word and browse the results. While it’s not wise to begin a lead sentence with quotation marks, you can write something like these:

It was Will Rogers (1879-1935) who said: “Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”

According to Reagan Miles, founder of Winterfrost Farm: “Without a doubt, our signature Ride-A-Rescue horseback riding program is the most popular.” She and her amazing staff of volunteers rescue and rehabilitate ….”