Making Hay

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, June 25, 1914: Let me see, I leaded some hay for today and Daddy growled at the result. We went over to Stout’s this evening to fill up on black cherries (we haven’t any of our own). Nary a one did we get.

This picture is from a different time period. It was taken in the late 1950s, but it’s one of my favorite photos and I thought that maybe it would work as an illustration for this post. It’s a photo of my father and me on top of a wagon load of hay. I think that the hay baler broke that summer, so my father decided to make some hay the “old-fashioned” way.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Whew, it sounds like one hot summer job (picking strawberries) must be winding down, and another hot summer job (making hay) gearing up. Will the work ever end?

I think that Grandma was leading a horse that was either pulling a wagon through the hayfield while others piled the hay onto the wagon, or (and I think this is the more likely option) she was leading a horse that was operating a pulley system that was used to unload the hay in the barn.

35 Responses

  1. I love that picture of you with your dad Sheryl. <3
    Diana xo

  2. It brings a lot of wonderful memories!

  3. Helena had many different skills! Lovely photo of you and your Dad. Did you feel like you were on top of the world?

    • I can vaguely remember when this photo was taken. I think that it felt very exciting, but also a bit scary, to be up so high on the wagon.

  4. That photo of you and your father is wonderful! I spent a lot of time, as a kid, helping with haying as well. I remember driving the tractor at a VERY young age–and my father growled at the result, too!

    • I also can remember driving the tractor a little when I was very young. Thinking back, it seems like it might have been a little dangerous–but all went well.

  5. Sweet picture! I know you treasure it. It’s difficult to imagine how hard everyone (including children) worked in bygone days. Thank goodness for modern machinery!

    • Many of the changes are definitely for the better, but there are also things I miss. When I was young we worked hard, but we also had a lot of fun.

  6. It’s a shame about the cherries. I think Grandma deserved to fill up on cherries after all the work she’d been doing.

  7. I tried to find the use of the word ‘leaded’ in terms of hay making. Got nowhere. I have used that pulley system with a small tractor, not horses.

  8. I spent a lot of time on hay wagons, though most (unlike the one pictured) had a rack that went around them to give them support and keep the hay in. It makes me itch just to remember those days.

    • That makes sense. I think that this wagon had a rack on the back, but that since it was generally used with baled hay that was stacked on it, this wagon may have been different from the wagons that were typically used with loose hay.

  9. Farming life was tough…love the expression ‘nary a one did we get’…given your grandmothers other more modern expression she must be playing.

    • It almost seems like she was trying to be dramatic by using words that probably were “old fashioned” even a hundred years ago.

  10. The photo of you and your Dad is wonderful! And now I know where the expression “making hay” comes from! :)

  11. That is a great photo, you don’t see people making hay the old-fashioned way very often.

  12. what a great pic of you and your dad!

  13. That is a great photo. I wonder why her dad growled, was he not pleased?

  14. Another of your posts that brings back many memories. I baled a lot of hay in my high school years, with my Dad. Ran the pulley on loose hay, in earlier years, and the bales, in later years. Horses were gone, but the process was the same! ;-)

    • I also have lots of memories of making–and unloading– hay. When I was a teen my job typically was to unload the wagon and put the bales on the elevator that sent them up into the mow.

  15. Me too! I drove tractors that pulled the loads of hay bales, built up the stacks in the fields and helped lift them into the sheds.Hay is heavy!

    • I agree! It was a lot of work to stack or unload hay. I also remember that I generally wore gloves because the twine that held the bales together would quickly give me blisters if I didn’t have gloves on.

  16. What a cool photo! The only hay wagon I was ever on was when we had a family party and went on a “hayride” at my great-grandfather’s farm.

  17. […] worked so hard for the last two weeks or so—first picking strawberries for wages and then helping harvest hay. A 19-year-old deserves to get Saturday afternoon off so that she can spend a little time with […]

  18. I can’t imagine making hay!!

  19. The photo of you and your dad is priceless. I can’t imagine picking strawberries for days on end – we only pick enough for ourselves…

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