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 thoughts on “Making Hay

    1. 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.

  1. 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!

    1. 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.

  2. 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!

    1. 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.

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

  6. 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! 😉

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

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