Saturday, May 17, 2008

Stacking Hay...

As you can see by the picture on the left I picked up our Massey Ferguson #10 baler yesterday. I've got the hood up on it because I spent the evening cleaning out 3 or 4 years of old hay, barn dust, and other dirties. I have a little more work to do cleaning and then we will go through and grease everything before we start work in the field. If the weather keeps on like it has been this past week I believe we will be baling in the early part of June down at my dad's farm. We probably won't be able to get any hay off of our new farm until late summer or early fall, but with the 20+ acres available at my dad's we should be good to go.

Speaking of hay, I ran across a pretty cool article in the May 2008 issue of "The Stockman Grassfarmer". The article by editor Allan Nation is titled "Dead Apple Trees Can Help Make High Quality Hay". This article was so interesting to me on so many levels and if you have a chance to read it I highly recommend it.

The idea of the article comes from a steam train trip Mr. Nation took across Poland (cool thing #1 :: steam trains). On one particular trip Mr. Nation and his wife took was through the mountains were the Communists mostly ignored the people and they still continue on in the same way of life that they have lived for years and years. He commented on the fenceless farms, the freshly painted houses, the big families, the small size of the farm, and I guess basically the sustainability of these rural communities. I guess bigger and bigger doesn't always need to be done...

But, the thing the prompted the article was the number of dead apple trees that had been worn smooth stacked at the edges of fields. It wasn't until later in the trip that he found out that they were used for stacking hay. The trunk end had been sharpened so it could be driven into the ground and all but the main branches had been trimmed off of these 8 foot tall trees. What he saw was a large family working together in the field (cool thing #2 :: large families working together) to build a stack on this tree.

Mr. Nation goes on to write about the method of "tripoding" as described in a 1950 book that he had recently read (cool thing #3 :: Acres USA is going to republish this book). The "tripoding" method involves three poles, again about 8 feet high, set in a tripod with smooth wire ran on the outside. According to the book the hay is put up on the wires and a hut is made. It is import to leave three air holes, but the method is said to provide a very high quality green cured hay.

It probably won't happen this year and maybe not next year, but I could see a small farm like mine utilize this method. Especially if gas keeps going up!

2 comments:

Blair H. said...

I saw these kind of structures when I took a train across Slovakia last October. I had thought they were a kind of primitive hay curing device and didn't think much of it because much of the agricultural practices I saw in Eastern Europe seemed pretty poor, ie; having all kinds of green grass available and yet never fencing it off to ration it to livestock, cows just went wherever they felt like. I can't wait to read this article!

Rich said...

I was reading an older issue of Small Farmer's Journal, and they had a story about Austrian hay-making techniques in the Muhlviertel region using Scwedenreuter (Swedish Riders) structures to dry their hay.

It consisted of a long line (100-300 ft) of posts driven into the ground with counter-balanced end posts, (normal brace posts?), and wires strung from end to end.

The first wire is set about 18 in. above the ground, hay is cut and hung in loose bundles on the wire, then a second wire is strung and hung with hay, continuing for up to 5-7 wires.

From the pictures in the article, the structures would be built about 20 ft apart,(so the hay could be easily scythed and then raked towards the structure instead of being carted?), and a family would put up about twenty Scwedenreuter that were 80-300 ft long twice each year (two cuttings of hay?).

By the way, they get their name of Swedish Riders, because the Swedish Forces in the Thirty Years War mistook the structures for Austrian troops massed in the fields, believed they were greatly outnumbered, and so didn't invade the area. In other words, Scwedenreuter have helped the local people and their livestock survive the winters in more ways than one.

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