Photo courtesy of Janet Richards
Jim McCracken wrote to remind those of you who have not known the art of preserving hay after the cutting:
They are like Mail Pouch barns, less and less all the time. But in my area there
are a few farmers that prefer them to round bales and oblong bales.
Last Spring I had the honor to participate in this lost art. And feel qualified to give
instructions on our to go about doing this.
First of all, let us assume you have not cut your hay as of yet.
If you do not have the Center Pole, go to the woods and cut one. The taller the
better 14' - 18' tall and about 4-6" around.
You will also need three or four pieces about 4-5' long for the center pole
supports. Now you have the materials gathered
and are ready to set the center pole. You will need a round point shovel or post
hole diggers to dig the holes for the pole and
Find a location as close to where you will be needing your hay stacked for easy
Dig a hole in the ground about 2 foot deep and set the center pole in and tamp
dirt around it.
Cut three or four notches in the center pole about 4' up the pole. Just a small
notch will do fine.
Dig four holes about a foot deep and place the supports in these holes leaning
them into the notches in
the center pole. Tamp dirt back into these holes. Nails in the supports are not
necessary, but do help
the center pole.
Now after you have mowed your hay and it has cured for a day or two, haul it to
the haystack location.
Start by working hay into the open places between the supports. And continue
this until it gets about 2 foot thick.
Now walk on it and smash it down.
This is referred to as walking it in or tramping it down.
Now continue to pitch hay
on to the stack until you reach the point you need to have a longer pitch fork.
These are called topping-out pitch forks.
The two I have have 12' handles in them so that you can pitch the hay up to the
top of the stack.
Now after you have
the stack topped out - you are done (usually wrapping some extra hay around the
pole tightly for more waterproofing). It will have the beehive round shape and rain
water will usually run right off.
The center pole will stick out about a foot or so.
Hope you enjoyed this and have learned a proper farm method.
The stacks are now a rare sight to see.