The Hay Rake

Melissa SandfortAgricultural Anthropology

I’ve mentioned that I’m a corn and soybeans kind of gal. But I’m broadening my horizons and learning more about hay.

This rake sits outside my Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Back in the late ‘teens, the rake was pulled by two horses while the operator would sit on the seat. He had two pedals –- one to engage the dogs in the hubs of the wheels to raise the teeth to drop the hay when you had a load, and the other pedal to drop the teeth back down to the ground to rake the hay. The loads were dumped in windrows and when they were dry, they’d rake the windrow into bunches and pick them up with a pitchfork and load them onto the hay rack.

Sometimes in the spring when corn stalks were heavy, they’d use this rake to break the corn stalks and then windrow them and burn them. It cleaned up the field – back then, they didn’t utilize no-till farming practices.

The rake was soon replaced with a ground-driven side-delivery rake that moved hay laterally to a windrow. Today, a windrower cuts it and windrows it all in one operation.

Did you see that? I said “dogs in the hubs” like I knew what I was talking about. I had to ask Grandpa for further clarification. Dogs are notches.

I knew that.

Until our next history lesson …