Vintage: Haying

Throwback Thursday!  Here's another excerpt from Through the Eyes of My Family - Sharon Miller's book of family history.



Some fields were sown for grain crops such as wheat, oats or barley for animal feed or to make flour.  Once the seeds were extracted the left over stems were called chaff and they were used for straw because they had very little nutrient value. Straw was used to create softness and absorb heat for the animals in their stalls when they laid down. Hay was different from straw.


Hay was made by cutting field grasses such as leafy wild grasses and hopefully clover. Because of the nutrients it was used as feed and roughage for both cattle and horses. Early haying was done by hand using a scythe which was a large curved blade on a long curved handle.  You swiped the scythe across the stems fairly close to the ground then the tops that were cut were raked into loose piles to dry, sometimes using homemade rakes .


Finally, using a pitchfork, the hay was thrown onto a wagon called a ray rack for transport to a larger haystack or into a loft in the top of a barn. Hay was best kept dry to avoid getting mold. The pictures show long tined pitchforks and Bob Yates, a homesteader from England living inTweedsmuir, with his hay rack pulled by two horses and manned by Alex Mc Dowell from Mayview.


Later a mower was used instead of a scythe.  A mower had a wide toothed blade attached at the side of a set of wheels. The blade moved back and forth and cut the stalks and grasses being used for hay. There was a high seat and a set of hand controls between the wheels.  It was pulled by a team of horses. The pictures show a mower and a later horse drawn hay rake with huge tines.