Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Alfalfa Hay, Once More

Grandpa Wasden's stack yard.  The Jackson Fork was probably one of the last ones in the entire area still in use in the early 1950s.  A large wicked heavy pronged fork hung from the cable on top of the triangle on the Jackson Fork.  Pet and Babe were used to raise the pulley, lifting a load of hay from the hay wagon, which Dad usually did, and then Grandpa Wasden was usually on the haystack when I helped with haying, where he pulled a rope to move the fork load of hay over to the stack, positioned it, and then tripped the load to dump on the stack.  One time while I was driving Pet and Babe to raise the fork, the fork was lowered instead of raised, burying Grandpa.  I was frightened to death, but he came out from under the hay laughing.  You can see from the height of the ladder how high Grandpa, in his seventies and early eighties, climbed to cut layers of hay with a serrated hay knife to fork down to the ground to be moved to the mangers to feed the cows.
Grandpa Wasden with Pet and Babe hitched to the hay wagon.

Dad turning the corner while mowing hay with the old John Deere.  I don't know how Dad managed to keep this tractor running, or how many times I went with him to Garland to Burke's Blacksmith Shop to repair the sickle.  Pheasants, unfortunately, often ran into the sickle blades.  Few smells are as nostalgic or as wonderful as the smell of new mown hay in full purple blossom.
This load of hay got unloaded in a hurry when the wagon tipped over.  This ancient haywagon was built by Grandpa Wasden and used for decades, with patches evident on the floor of the wagon.  This wagon was used for hauling everything that needed hauling around the farm, pulled by Pet and Babe.

Hay that has been windrowed to dry before being picked up by the hayloader on the back of the hay wagon.  This field is just to the east of Grandpa Wasden's home place.  
The tractor shed is on the left, then the granary, then the machine shed, then, across the open area, the blacksmith shop obscuring the garage, and then the Wasden house.  Nothing was fancy on the Wasden farmstead, but everything was neat and orderly.  During my high school years, my job was to drive the tractor pulling the "side-delivery rake", which raked the hay to the side of the rake in neat windrows.  You just prayed that it wouldn't rain heavily and spoil the hay before it got dry and hauled to the stackyard at Grandpa's and then to our farmyard for our share of the hay.


Ann said...

Are you saying that Grandpa climbed up the Jackson Fork up to the point in the first picture. It looks as though there are cross pieces nailed to the one side of the highest triangle - is that what he climbed? Amazing!!!! These pictures are great. They really show the whole process. One of the things I remember about this process is a time when the wagon tipped before everything was hooked up. Mother had a discussion with me a little later about the language I had just heard and that I should not repeat it! The smell of freshly cut alfalfa is certainly a reminder of our Penrose home.

Elizabeth said...

Later, when I drove the tractor with Dwight on the hay wagon to distribute the hay evenly as it came off the loader, I turned a corner too sharply, and Dwight had to holler at me to stop and back up so that he (and the hay) wouldn't turn over. Then there was the time a snake came up with the hay, and he threw it at me. Yuck! Mostly, haying was a pleasant experience for me until Dad began baling it. Then, it was the tractor with a forklift that loaded the bales, and Steve and I were supposed to stack it. That was the summer that Steve was only 9, and those 25-pound bales were really tough for him. That was not as pleasant as driving the tractor.

Ann said...

Another memory I have is of Pet and Babe. Steve and I were allowed to ride the horses - bareback of course. The horses were so big that I would climb up on the gate over by the shop to climb on Babe's back - that was "my" horse. It was so much fun. I think we got to ride them after we cornered one of the escaped Jones Shetland ponies in the cow corral and tried to ride it. We had a hard time believing Dad when he told us the Shetland pony was mean. Why was it Steve and me who got into all this trouble? I think he led the way and I just followed along. And Judy was smart enough to know better than to try some of the crazy things Steve and I tried.

Dwight said...

No, he didn't climb up the Jackson Fork although someone may have had to if the pulley on top ever needed repaired. I don't know what was meant about language. If anything was said, it was just spoken in the native Penrose tongue. We older children were always good and well behaved and never got in continuous trouble like the small children.

Ann said...

By Penrose native tongue, may I assume you are referring to words such as "dedikin", wizzled, etc.?

Judy said...

We had the better life than those who do the boring hay harvests of today. Your photos transport us all back to the hay field, back to the hay yard, and back to the horse corral. Aha, yes, the pungent smell of horse manure on a warm summer day. Thank you for telling the illustrated story which will be fun to share with our children and down the line.

Anonymous said...

Stumbled on your blog -- a joy! Was looking for pix of those alfalfa rigs. Your Ann & Steve picture is a museum-piece, I'd say professionally. (

Congrats on a sweet site shared w the world.