Making hayfork lesson fun for a new generation

Read one person's memories of working with a hay fork back in the day.

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by Ellis Moore

Regarding Ken Bolton’s article in the July 2020 issue of Farm Collector on hayfork pulley systems: I am 88 years old, and can remember the hayfork quite well. We never baled hay at any time. I had enough of bales as a teenager, helping a gentleman with a stationary baler, doing custom work baling straw.

We used a hayfork most of the time, just occasionally using slings. If there was no one in the mow to holler “trip,” it was up to the person on the wagon to judge when to pull the rope. Some farmers, I believe, tied knots in the rope as a guide. We never did; you got so you could judge as the trip rope played out when to trip the load, usually with good success. The trip rope was used to pull the hayfork back out of the mow, making sure while the fork came down not to be right under it.

Later, we bought an Allis-Chalmers forage harvester with a pickup head. We built two forage wagons with covers. By using the harvester and picking up the hay right from the windrow, it saved a lot of time and labor. By setting the blower up at one end of the barn and using silo pipes, we could fill the mow from one end to the other. The hay was much easier to pitch from the mow, and the cattle and other livestock did not waste as much. We used the same idea for the straw mow. In the fall, we purchased a corn head for the harvester. Later, I did custom work, filling silos.

We are members of Niagara Antique Power Assn. (NAPA). Several years ago, as a teaching moment, we made a frame from 1-inch square tubing fastened with bolts and pins. We made it to represent the upper part of a barn or the haymow. It was complete with a section of steel hay track, hay fork, hay rope and pulleys. We used half a bale of hay as our loose hay. The children would be the horses and pull the “load” of hay up into the barn. When the fork hit the track, the hay car and load would move along the track. A child or adult would be holding the trip rope, and when I said, “Trip,” they would pull the rope and trip the fork, releasing the load of hay. That was the fun part.

Many articles bring back so many memories. We appreciate all who contribute articles. Leslie McManus does such a super job of introducing us to each issue. Many times it’s hard to decide which articles to read first. The “Memories of a Former Kid” cartoon makes one think, “been there, done that, just the other day.” Such a great job by everyone.

Ellis Moore, St. Anns, Ontario, Canada

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