I well remember when food for Farm-Animals (called ‘Hay’), was cut with a Mule- Powered, Sickle-Bar Mower, and raked with a ‘Hay Rake.’ The Hay was then stacked around a tall pole, simply called a ‘Haystack,’ to dry or cure. Hay was a necessity for food for Horses and Mules as well as Cattle in the days before farming became mechanized.
When cured, it was either stored in the barn loft or left in stacks in a pasture where the animals could feed at will. Since I was, more or less a youngster, I was usually not allowed to ride any dangerous machine; but I did have experience riding a ‘hay rake.’
The curved tines of the hay rake were connected to a handle within reach of the ‘rider / operator.’ When the tines had collected a sufficient amount of hay, the operator raised the tines and dumped the hay into ‘wind-rows.’
A Horse or Mule drawn wagon was driven alongside the wind-rows where other workers collected the hay with ‘pitch-forks,’ and loaded it into a wagon for transport to the ‘haystack’ where it would be wound tightly around the pole. If enough time had elapsed between cutting and stacking; some cured hay would be hauled directly to the barn loft.
The chore of ‘Haying’ usually transpired between the times of ‘laying-by’ the other field crops and the ‘gathering’ season. Ideal weather for this operation was hot dry days with abundant Sunshine. The hard work and dust from the hay made life miserable for the workers; but as with other field work, it was necessary. No one ever claimed that farming was easy. In most cases, it was simply ‘a way of life.’
Modern air-conditioned equipment of today can complete most of the above operations; and dump the tied bales in one mighty sweep. This method only requires one operator.
‘Hay-Stacking’ is not necessary today since the ‘hay’ is baled, in either square or round bundles, that are dropped in the field. It is then hauled with ‘air-conditioned trucks’ and/or trailers to be stored somewhere under shelter from the elements, and is located near to the Barnyard.
I have to admit that I sometime smile when I hear a farmer of today complain about the hard work of ‘Haying.’ With first hand knowledge of this job in my past; I really cannot feel sympathy for them.
I was fortunate during my youth that I was not subjected to the hundreds of acres of Hay that some farmers raise today. Our small farm provided enough of this back-breaking work to feed our animals, (and to ‘do me’ for a lifetime).
Of course, Back then; I complained along with the best of them.
As far as I am concerned, the ‘good old days’ are NOW! Dj.