These days there are machines that can cut, bail, and stack hay with ease, but in times past, it was not so easy. There were machines that cut the hay, but then it had to be thrown up on a wagon with a pitchfork and hauled to where the haystack was going to be placed, unloaded and thrown up onto the haystack by hand using the pitchfork again. Then someone had to be up on the top leveling it out so that the ha could be stacked higher. It was no easy job, and the more people you had helping the better off you were. It was definitely not a job for one person, and definitely not for wimps. The farmer and his crew had arms of steel, because hay is not light, no matter how it looks. I have helped move hay bails, and found out for myself that it is not a job for lightweights.
My dad’s family spent a lot of time making hay when they owned the farm in Minnesota, and my Uncle Bill helped his wife’s family too over the years that they owned a farm. Load after load, they worked the weekend away. Moving the hay from the hayfield to the stack behind the old barn, where it would stay stacked until it was needed. It was hard work, but Uncle Bill was on his days off, and so they wanted to get as much done in the time they had before he had to go back to work in the shipyards. I haven’t had the impression that it was a job that any of them enjoyed very much, but rather it was a job that had to be done, so they did it. I think I can agree with Uncle Bill when he said that he was glad when hay making time was finally over. Now that we don’t raise cows, I can honestly say that moving hay around in any form, is something I don’t miss. I think it must have taken a very determined person to work a farm the way it had to be done back in the days when there weren’t all the machines there are these days. The work is hard enough these days, even with all the machines, so imagine what it would be like without them. No wonder those people were so strong.
And after the hay was stacked, you had to use a pitch fork again to move it to where you needed it for the animals. So, now the whole process is reversed, as they haul the hay off of the stack, thereby bringing about the need to make more hay the next summer. Of course it is all necessary, and that is why farmers and ranchers do it. The hay is needed for the animals. This whole process causes me to really respect the farmer and rancher…especially the ones from days gone by because theirs was one really hard job.