Field Notes

Advantages of a Hay Stacker

hay stacker

Building Stacks of Hay

The article by Clell G. Ballard (“The Hay Hook,” Farm Collector, July 2016) was interesting, and its point about the advantages of a hay hook was very much on target. It made me tired to learn how many times bales were handled in the system the author described. An alternate system my father developed for use building stacks on a farm in Grand Forks County, North Dakota, employed a hydraulic hay stacker mounted on a tractor (in our case, a 1941 John Deere A). His first stacker was a Superior, the predecessor to the Farmhand. He sold it very soon after acquiring it. His second stacker – the one I used – was a Johnson.

Its main advantage was that it could be mounted and removed from the tractor far more easily. The stacker had a basket with wooden teeth on the front. The basket was about 12 feet wide and extended about 9 feet in front of the tractor. The tractor/stacker would fill its basket with hay from the windrows made by a side-delivery rake, then turn around, fill it again and pile it on top of the first bunch in order to get a full, level basket before taking it to the stack.

A rectangular base would be created by pushing together several baskets of hay. Additional baskets of hay were carefully placed on that base. Each layer involved two baskets on one side, two on the other and one from each end. A man in the stack moved just enough hay to keep the stack level and square. When the stack was as high as the stacker would go (about 20 feet), the man in the stack would pull hay from the basket and create a rounded top. The result was a stack that looked a little like a large loaf of bread, rounded just enough to shed water.

When my father purchased his first hydraulic stacker in the early 1940s, one of his neighbors scoffed, saying he could pitch a lot of hay for $600 (its cost). But soon he and others were asking my father to help put up their hay, and for a time he stacked hay for many nearby farmers. In those days, all of them had at least eight or 10 cows to milk and usually other livestock. Then, when it took too much time away from his own farm work, he encouraged them to purchase their own.

A local implement dealer would sell a Johnson stacker, and he would help mount it on whatever brand of tractor the farmer had. Others purchased Farmhand stackers from a dealer in a neighboring town.

In the fall, he would remove the hay basket and mount a homemade attachment with a grapple fork to the front of the hay stacker. The four tines of the grapple fork would be inserted in the haystack. The stacker would lift a bunch of hay and place it in a hayrack on top of a rope sling, then another and another. The hayrack would be pulled home, placed in front of the barn and, with a small tractor hooked to the end of the hay rope, the slings full of hay would be pulled up and into the haymow.

The Ballards were forming bales for long-distance transport. Since we were putting hay in a stack, hay was never lifted by hand. Yes, some of it was moved around by the person in the stack, and in the winter it was pushed to the openings in the floor of the haymow so it could drop down into the hay manger along one side of the barn, but the investment of labor pales in comparison to lifting and stacking and lifting again and restacking bales.

In the 1950s, the system was improved in two ways. First, my father and neighbor built a rectangular stack frame out of pipes that could be filled with hay before anyone got into the stack. Once the hay had been packed (by walking around in it), the stack frame was removed and the rest of the stack was built.

Second, my father and that same neighbor built a tractor-pulled stack mover. It was like a large trailer, made of a modified truck axle and wheels, an I-beam frame, steel pipes for the deck and a PTO-driven winch. With that, a stack could be moved from the field to the farmyard, and it could be winched off in front of the barn (or anywhere else). The same grapple fork was then attached to the hay carrier and, piece by piece, the hay in the stack was lifted into the haymow.

For some farmers, there certainly were advantages to baling. Hay could be more easily transported long distances, it could be sold more easily and more hay could be stored in the same amount of barn space. But none of these applied to our farm.

In addition to labor saved, stacking had other advantages. Alfalfa, in particular, could be stacked sooner than it could be baled, and that often reduced the loss of leaves. This system also saved the ongoing expense of buying twine. With a touch of exaggeration, my father would say that baling involved, “buying your own hay back.”
Darrell Jodock - 1600 Riverview Rd., St. Peter, MN 56082

Clell Ballard responds: I’m impressed by the activities of your father and the others you mentioned. That is one of the great things about the American farmer. He is creative as he figures how to do the hard farm work in a more efficient manner.


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A Case of Old Iron Fever

Advance Rumely sawmill

I own a 1919 Advance Rumely 20-65 that my father and I restored in 1990. Its original owner was my wife’s great-grandfather, who purchased it new with a water tank and separator. I also restored the water tank.

I also have an Aultman & Taylor sawmill. I’m not sure when it was built, but it has to be before 1923, when Advance Rumely bought out Aultman & Taylor. I built a new carriage out of steel. It has Avery heavy knees. The original set works. I added the measurement wheel. 

I also restore tractors. This year I am doing a 1970 Cub Cadet 127. My father, Ervin Stencil, purchased it new on April 20, 1970. Last year I restored a 1952 Ford 8N. I’m also sending photos of a 1950s-era John Deere Model A, before and after restoration. It belonged to my stepfather, John. The 8N was also his.

I have a rare Oliver Industrial 88 diesel with a factory cab, Farmall 240, Case 530 and a Farmall A. My son, Steve, has my grandfather’s Farmall M. I have old iron fever.

Rick Stencil, Edgar, Wisconsin


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John Deere Model A before

John Deere model A after


John Deere 620 Standard Makes Harvesting a Joy

John Deere 620

This photo shows my John Deere 620 Standard and a #42 square-back combine. It was a weird year in 2015. We had flooded fields all spring. The soybeans were finally planted in July. We harvested in 70-degree weather in November wearing short-sleeve shirts.

At age 83, I still enjoy farming with my older equipment and yes, it’s all paid for: ha! I paid $3,400 in 1964 for a new #42 square-back combine that included a chopper and Hume reel.

Ken Havekost, Monroe, Michigan


Send letters to: Farm Collector Editorial, 1503 S.W. 42nd St.,Topeka, KS 66609 

FAX: (785) 274-4385 email: editor@farmcollector.com; online at: www.farmcollector.com

One Dirty Job: Baling Hay and Threshing Peanuts

baling peanut hay

A letter to the editor on Page 4 of the January 2016 issue of Farm Collector was titled, “Memories of Baling in 1942.” Oh boy! Does it ever bring back memories!

This is my recollection of hay baling and threshing peanuts at the same time, starting in 1957. My dad, Stanley Sealock, and a neighbor and good friend, Dewey Aylor, went in together and bought a Lilliston stationary peanut thresher and an International Harvester stationary hay baler. At that time, peanuts were a popular cash crop in our area of Pottawatomie and Seminole counties in central Oklahoma.

These machines were used to harvest our crops as well as do some custom work for a few neighbors. This harvest rig was purchased from a farmer who had already transitioned to the new peanut combine, which, as you know, saved hiring a large crew of workers, at least 10 good hands. Some were school boys, some not too good.

We pulled the thresher with my 1941 John Deere Model B. I bought this, my first tractor, when I was 14. We pulled the baler with my neighbor’s Farmall Model B. The thresher was fitted with a long conveyor to catch the peanut straw and leaves. It hung at a 45-degree angle from the rear of the machine. So, while running, the straw and leaves were dumped almost directly on the baler table. It was a very dirty job, but it got the peanut hay baled at the same time.

I love your magazine and just about anything rusty. Keep up the good work.

Dan Sealock, Prague, Oklahoma


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threshing peanuts

Family Heritage Lives on in Restored Challenge Windmill

 windmill

A unique Challenger windmill was erected on the Oscar and Mable Hatlelid homestead in Burke County, North Dakota, between 1905 and 1910. It was used to pump water for stock from a 60-foot well.

In the 1980s, lightning broke the tower and the wheel fell off. In 1995, Ken Hatlelid, Oscar’s son, rescued all the metal parts from the top of the tower and found four pieces of rotted wood parts from the wheel’s fins. He took them to his home in Eugene, Oregon, and with a lot of studying and experimenting, reconstructed the wheel. New fins were made with redwood flume stock from a 4-foot-diameter pipe built in Medford, Oregon, in 1924. The wheel was mounted on a 12-foot tower in Ken’s backyard.

In 2014, Oscar’s grandson, Dennis Hatlelid, moved the windmill to Denton, Montana. Dennis repaired and reconstructed part of the cast operating system. The wood parts were sanded and repainted to their original colors of white with green tips.

Jan Stafek, Eugene, Oregon.


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Birdsell Clover Huller Brings Iron Age Ads to Life

Birdsell Clover Huller

I was very interested in the Iron Age Ads in the April 2016 issue of Farm Collector featuring the Birdsell clover thresher and separator. My wife and I bought this Birdsell clover huller at an auction in northeast Ohio three years ago. It had been in a barn for more than 30 years. It is now on display (under cover) at the Antique Tractor Club of Trumbull County, Ohio. It was almost destroyed on the way to the auction when one of the pins came out of the hitch. It needs some TLC to get it back in running condition.

Lyle and Sharon Bertram, via email


Send letters to: Farm Collector Editorial, 1503 S.W. 42nd St.,Topeka, KS 66609

FAX: (785) 274-4385 email:editor@farmcollector.com; online at: www.farmcollector.com