Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How They Made Hay in His Day

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How They Made Hay in His Day

Article excerpt

MY reminiscences here about old-time haying, with racks of loose hay and an unloader powered by a horse that tried to trod on my barefoot tootsies, certainly aroused the doddering remnants of those golden days. A pile of letters makes me wonder if our ultimately computerized era will ever have memories of like warm values.

Thanks to one letter from a New Hampshire woman named Whitney, a price has been established for our recurring thoughts. She tells how her family harvests some 5,500 bales of hay in their modern operation, not to feed out but to sell. She asks what hay sold for in those times.

Somewhere around $20 a ton.

We never sold much hay, but now and then we would buy. Our barn would hold a hundred tons of loose hay, and if we got that much under cover it would be poking the rafters.

Loose hay, stuffed to the rafters in hot June and July, would begin to settle soon, but if we had a load or two more to bring in, the youngsters would be sent up to "tread mow." They'd crawl around and jump and frolic, and make some more room. After that, playing in the hay was not encouraged, as cows were fastidious - for which our word was "notional." They'd skip worked-over hay.

Farmers tried to "come out even" on hay. At Candlemas a guess would be made - "... half your wood and half your hay." If you didn't have enough hay to carry your herd through to green grass, you'd sell a couple of heifers. If you were going to have some hay left over, there was always a neighbor who would need "a little."

All loose hay.

There was baled hay then, but not in this context.

Most towns had an entrepreneur who cut hay on speculation, stored it, pressed it, and shipped it to the cities. Cities grew no hay, but had plenty of dray horses, lots of driving horses, and police and fire horses.

Every city also had a haymarket square, some of which persist in name only.

Our town had two hay dealers, Sam Fitts and Ed Bartol, who shipped to Boston's Haymarket Square. …

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