Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Making Hay (the old way)

In this old photo you can see small square bales being hoisted up in to a hay mow. The man on the ground has the trip rope. When the hay bales are inside and close to where he wants them, he will pull his rope and drop the bales. This type of hay system was designed for loose hay and used that way from around 1890 until about 1950. In the 1950's everyone started using small square bales and found that they could continue using their "hay trolleys" to hoist those into the mow, six at a time.

(These pictures were loaned to me by a good friend named Jeff, he is one of the boys sitting on the tractor)
For years, horses pulled the hay hoist rope. In this picture a small tractor is being used. My wife remembers her grandmother driving an old pickup to pull the rope. She said that she used to ride on the tailgate much like these boys are riding along on the tractor. I had an opportunity to help a Mennonite farmer put up hay this way in the early 1980's. I know that many Amish farmers still use hay hoists to this day. Some Amish farmers still put up loose hay, including one of the families I bought draft horses from. I enjoyed watching them do things the way it was done around the turn of the last century.

We have a local resident that collects hay trolleys from all over the country. The Kalona Mennonite Historical Society held a meeting in this display barn a few weeks ago. I asked for permission to take some pictures and blog about it.
In the picture below you can see a few sets of "Iron Claw" hay forks. I still have an old set that were used on our home-place even though the big barn is gone.

There were many companies that made hay trolleys, and over the years each company made numerous models. Our local collector told us that he has over 300 distinct trolleys, and some duplicates.

I thought I would throw in this picture of me standing below a few of the old hay forks. This style was used for loose hay.

I've included a short excerpt from my novel, Under the Heavens. This is a short story that was told to me, by a good Amish friend, almost exactly as I put in in the book.

If you have a few minutes, check out this wonderful video by simply clicking on the words below.

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