Sunday, December 21, 2008

Henry Pratt's Memories IX

Henry's words open this episode:
"If you had told a farmer in 1910 that in fifty years hay and grain crops could be harvested
with practically no hand labor he would have called it the wildest of his life's dreams".
The cradle and sythe had been replaced on most farms but the pitchfork seemed likely to stay. They were used to pitch hay or grain from the ground to wagons during harvest and from the mow to the mangers for use during the year.
"To get hay from the wagon into the haymow a harpoon fork was used. It was a two-pronged affair of iron which was thrust down into a load of hay, two levers pulled up to take hold of the hay. A heavy rope ran through a series of pulleys to the outside of the barn. One or two horses were hitched to the end of the rope and driven ahead lifting a forkload of hay up to a track then along the track to wherever the hay was wanted at the moment. A pull of the trip rope released the load to fall to the surface of the hay, where men with pitchforks spread it over the mow.
My note: I have personal experience with this procedure. In the 1930's I was big enough to help when hay was being made at the Bowe Farm north of Watervliet (where the airport is now). I was also big enough to "do chores" in the evening after school. Dad and I would go from Paw Paw Avenue to the barn (located on old M140 just beyond Campbell's Landing) and I would fork manure out of the horses' stalls and put in fresh straw bedding then throw down hay from the haymow and put it into the mangers and do whatever else needed doing. I got $1 per week. (emailed July 11)

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