Haymaking at the Ontario Agricultural College

Haymaking at the Ontario Agricultural College


Our system of making hay varies considerably with the conditions under which we are working. Some years hay will cure much more quickly than others, owing to differences in weather conditions or in the rankness of the growth. We seldom cut red clover until it is in full bloom. In favorable weather is is usually cut one day, and drawn to the barn the following day. It is very rank and full of sap, we use the hay tedder the first day, and the second day, as soon as the dew is off, we rake it with the side-delivery rake and draw during the afternoon. If the crop is not very heavy, or if it is a little late in the season, we do not find it necessary to use the tedder, though in such cases we usually rake some of it with the side-delivery rake during the afternoon of the first day, and the remainder, which was cut last, in the forenoon of the second day. In the latter part of the clover harvest we find that, if we use the tedder, the hay is apt to be a little too dry and brittle the second day.

Timothy is handled in much the same way, though it is very seldom, indeed, that we use the tedder upon timothy, and during the latter part of haying the timothy which is cut in the morning is frequently drawn before the evening of the same day.

As to alfalfa, we have tried different methods, and have been only fairly successful in handling it without first cocking it. The alfalfa requires to be cut in fairly early bloom, in order to secure a good second growth. As a result, the crop is extremely full of moisture and difficult to cure, without losing a considerable quantity of the finer leaves. In the case of the rankest alfalfa, wit will probably require about two days to cure without cocking, the hay being drawn to the barn the second day after it is cut. For alfalfa, the tedder is an important implement, because in hot weather the alfalfa should be kept stirred at frequent intervals to prevent the top layer from being burnt with the sun, while the lower layer remains perfectly green. We usually commenced tedding, therefore, a few hours after the crop has been cut, especially if the weather is very hot and dry, and if we can ted it twice the first day, we think it is an improvement, or possibly go over it with the teeder once, and use the side-delivery rake in the afternoon, so as not to unduly expose it to the dew at night. The next day, if the hay seems very green, the windrows again with the side-delivery rake, and the following day, under ordinary circumstances, it is sufficient to turn the windows over by means of the side-delivery rake, and draw later in the day. Some years we have been able to draw the alfalfa to the barn late in the afternoon of the second day, but it is rarely that we are able to do so.

We usually employ a six-foot mower. The side-delivery rake will not take the place of a dump-rake. For gathering rakings or for raking hay that is to be put into cocks, the dump rake is necessary. It is also necessary for raking the grain stubble.Where a person uses a hay loader, however, the side-delivery rake is a great advantage ; in fact, I might say that I would not buy a hay loader without a side-delivery rake. As previously explained, in some cases the side-delivery rake will take the place of the tedder in curling hay, but in the case of a heavy, sappy red clover or alfalfa, the tedder is a very important implement in handling the hay to best advantage.

When we are drawing hay too the barn with three or four teams, two men are put in the field. One of them helps the teamster build the load, and the other walks and drives the team. The next load, the two men change places, so that these two men are alternately helping build the load or driving the team, and consequently it is not quite so hard on the men. Of course, if a person were drawing with only one one or two teams, it would not be necessary to put two men in the field. Before we used the hay loader, we had to put four men in the field to keep the same number of teams going, and we could not store as much hay in a day as we do with the hay loader, to say nothing of time spent in cocking. I am not sure that we make as good hay as we used to make when we put it in cocks, but we can make very good hay, and I feel satisfied that any slight loss in quality is more than compensated in the saving of labour. We have never used the loader for hay that has once been put in cocks.

Practically all our hay is stored in lofts, so that we cannot do very much in the way of distributing forkfuls. It is an advantage to have the loft somewhat narrow. Up to the present we have always used the horse fork, though many prefer slings. When using a loader, it is an advantage not to be bothered with slings in the field, and with a good horse the hay can be unloaded very quickly.

Ontario Agricultural College


Celebrating 150 Years of Canadian Agriculture