Haying Before Tractors

Submitted Article
Haying Before Tractors
by Owen Clark

Hi guys! At age 8 (1927, am now 79) I was learning how to drive a stacker team on the old homemade A-frame wooden stacker, on three of my uncles` dairy farms in Star Valley Wyoming (south of Jackson Hole, on the Wyoming-Idaho border). There was one steam tractor in the Valley, owned by an entrepeneur who used it to run his grain threshing machine, that he hauled from farm to farm for the fall harvest.

We used teams of horses not only on the stacker, but on the buckrake to buck the dried alfalfa and timothy hay out of the winrows into a load that we then placed on the stacker`s teeth. The stacker team pulled that load into the air and dumped it onto the growing haystack. We also used teams on the plows, on the seed drills for field planting, on the mowing machines, on the discs (for breaking up sod), on the harrows, the levelers, the wagons, the hayracks, the grain binders, the grain headers, the manure spreader wagon, and later on the rubber-tired wagons to haul milk to the creamery.

Rubber-tired wagons were made from the frames of cast-off cars, with a wagon tongue bolted to the car`s steering gear, and the team hitched on either side of the tongue. Then the local genius mechanics invented a way to attach buckrake teeth to those old car frames, left the engine on the frame, and voila! We had a power buckrake. Over the years, a small tractor replaced the stacker team, and tractors were gradually used for plowing, mowing hay, and pulling the other field work vehicles.

One winter when the snow got over 3 feet deep, it was impossible to get a team out to the haystack thru the deep snow, so my cousin hitched his caterpillar-tractor to the bobsled, with a hayrack on the bobs, and drove gingerly on top of that snow out to the haystack for a load of hay. Next morning the compacted snow trail had frozen, and we drove the team out to the stack on that frozen trail. (It`s true, so help me ! )

When we left Star Valley in 1937, all the hay was being baled, or rolled into great bundles out of the winrow... and the whole haying procedure had changed completely. For winter feeding, we loaded the bales on the hayrack, cut the bale wires, and tossed the hay out to the cattle.

Now what I`m wondering is, does anyone have pictures of the old A-frame stacker, the buckrake, the team-drawn mowing machine, discs, plows, harrows, etc? Have seen a collection of outhouse pictures - and they are classics! But no picures of the old hay equipment. Email me at [email protected]. Thanks for letting me air off !

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