| June 2002

Making hay took a lot of time; early on, hay was cut with scythes, allowed to dry and gathered by hand into small stacks.

Later, horse-drawn mowers came out, often with only a 3-foot cut, but still much faster than making hay by hand. In time, dump rakes were developed to bunch hay into windrows, where it could be forked up into a hayrack. Still, the process demanded hard work. Then came hay loaders, which were developed in the 1870s and used into the 1950s.

Last summer, we acquired a hay loader that had been stored for 50 years in a barn. Orange paint remaining on the unit's galvanized sides spelled out 'New Idea.'

None of the wood was rotten, so we cleaned it up, greasing and oiling as needed, and naturally, decided to test it.

Neighbor Myron Joneson brought up his horses, hooked them to our makeshift rack, and we loaded hay. It was long grass hay from the pasture, real similar to what would have been loaded 75 years ago.

With a hay loader, hay is brought up behind the rack, elevated up as shown in the photographs and dumped at the rack's rear. Men on the rack then move the hay forward, piling it loosely, to make room for additional hay coming up the loader.