Building a Haystack

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by minnikin1, Jun 8, 2006.

  1. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    Lots of hay on the ground and the rain just keeps on coming! We decided to try to save some using the old-fashioned Haystack method.
    Ha!
    This is not a skill that is easily learned by reading a book....

    There is a haystack there, but I can't say what it will look like after the lightest bit of wind.
    The problem was we couldn't figure out how "thick" to build the walls, and we
    opted for light and thin - thinking building too thick or packed would cause it to rot. So as the stack grew in height, there was not much in the layer below to hold it up.
    The next instinct was to press it down, to encourage it to stay. Again, we tried to fight the desire to do that - we were afraid of compressing too much.
    And then we kept wondering, how big can we make this thing? As your working along, it's hard to decide how much hay is really there (compared to
    bales and pats).

    Does anyone know where good instructions for making stack can be found?



    I sure like the look of the thing, though.
     
  2. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    It still has to be dry when stacked.If it has been wet and dry several times,it probably lost most of its food value.

    I'm thinking you set a pole in the middle vof your Stack to hold it up,just keep pilling until you get to the top,rake it smooth so your cuttings are running down the Stack to turn rain.You will want it packed down good as you can get.

    big rockpile
     

  3. Cheryl in SD

    Cheryl in SD Living in the Hills Supporter

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    I used to help build them with my grandpa. I know my dad did too.

    Here is what I remember, but remember my rememberer isn't THAT good anymore and it has been 30+ years!

    Ok, first grandpa would make a circle the size he wanted the stack. Then he would put a layer of hay on it and we would walk it down by walking around and around in circles while he would get the next load. He kept bring loads, we kept going in circles getting higher as we went. I think, THINK, that he would say, boy, I am GOING to get this wrong, I just KNOW it, but from here I THINK he would tell us that if we were doing it right we should smush it to half as high as it started. Start at 2 feet, smush to 1 foot. Does that sound about right? I DO remember it HAD to be dry or it would mold! Then when it was as high as He could throw hay (10 feet???) he would get on top and put a smooth layer to shed rain.

    Wow, I hadn't thought about that in YEARS.
     
  4. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Cheryl Knows how. The hay has to have someone on top the stack at all times tromping the hay down as tight as possible. Start with a circle off hay on the ground and keep spreading the rest of the hay out over the pile as you smash it down with your feet. The stack keeps getting smaller in diameter as you go up with it. When you top it out, it should look like a Hostess Ding Dong. A cheap tarp or plactic will help keep it dry and prevent it from blowing.

    If the hay is too wet to put into bales it is too wet to stack. It would spoil, and you would have a supersized compost pile.
     
  5. gccrook

    gccrook Well-Known Member

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    In the 'old' country, they make their haystacks outside. To keep it dry, they use a hay comb (looks like a wooden rake) to comb the final layer in such a way that it sheds water. Really cool to watch. Still, the hay has to be dry to start with. If the hay has been out in the rain for too long, it becomes bedding or mulch when it dries, as it loses most of it's nutritional value. This is why sometimes you see farmers do everything within their power, even working throught the night to get the hay in. Make hay while the sun shines.
     
  6. Farmer Willy

    Farmer Willy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ones I remember were hay racks, imagine a short tee pee with the poles crossing about 3 feet off the ground and going up another 4 feet, 5 to 6 poles. Hay was thrown into the upright poles and piled up above that, then allowed to drape down. The rack kept it from laying on the damp ground and like the stacks described above, the outside of the hay shed off water.
     
  7. blufford

    blufford Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would like to warn the more conservative members of this forum of some of the hanky panky that can occur in a hay stack. That scream you hear could be someone accidently backing into a pitch fork or some other occurance that shan't be mentioned here. :nono:
     
  8. Fla Gal

    Fla Gal Bunny Poo Monger Supporter

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    Farmer Willy,

    This looks like what you're describing. This thread made me do a google search on building haystacks. I came up with no information that Cheryl described and Uncle Will confirmed but I came up with a picture of the method you're describing. To see the picture, scroll down about a third of the way to the picture titled "Hay from Romania".

    Looks like that method would be a lot easier than stomping hay for hours.
     
  9. Muskrat

    Muskrat Well-Known Member

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    My experience:

    We built our stacks around a sturdy pole. The pole could be whatever height; the stacks were generally eight to twelve feet high, dependent more upon location, usage, and pole height than any set rule.

    We built the stack one forkful at a time and tromped it down continuously. Each forkful was a building block, overlapping slightly, so there wouldn't be sink holes since the forkful was by nature thicker in the middle than on the edges. The edge nearest the pole was alway kept slightly higher so the slope of the hay was downward towards the outside edge.

    If a single person is building the stack, you need to circle it repeatedly to keep the layers relatively even and to interlock the forkfuls. If you build unevenly, one side ahead of the other, the stablility will be lessened.

    When we had enough people, one person on the wagon forked it down to two stackers. Each built a row, making sure his row overlapped with his partners at either end. Whoever was tromping the hay had to pay attention to stay out of the way of the pitchfork and incoming hay.

    When the stack got too tall for the men to work from the ground, one climbed up on the stack and finished the upper layers with the help of the trompers.

    When the stack was to a height, the final layer was smoothed and then we used a piece of tin with a hole cut in the center to put down over the pole to cap the stack. When the stack was built right, the workers could slide down the side without major disruption of the stack.
     
  10. Farmer Willy

    Farmer Willy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I saw these in Southern Bavaria. I guess they may be using baling equipment now, but the only equipment I saw then was a small tractor and a sickle bar. They were raking by hand, forking onto a wagon by hand, and forking onto these racks by hand. I can understand why that beer went down so well after a day of that.
     
  11. Cornhusker

    Cornhusker Unapologetically me Supporter

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    Here's how we did it when I was a kid.
    First you mow the hay with a sickle mower.
    [​IMG]
    Then you rake it into winrows with a rake.
    [​IMG]
    The sweeps come by and buck it into bucks. (piles of hay)
    [​IMG]
    Then the sweeps take the bucks to the stacker where it is stacked, packed and more or less woven together.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I don't know if that helps, but I guess the answer is to get it dry and pack it really good.
     
  12. Tabitha

    Tabitha greenheart

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    Farmer Willy saw correct (were you with the military in Bavaria?), those teepee things work quite well to save the hay in bad weather. the air gets in from below and inside and the water is shed off on the outside.
     
  13. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    Did you mean to put a link here?
     
  14. Fla Gal

    Fla Gal Bunny Poo Monger Supporter

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    I sure did. So sorry about the slip. I wish we still had that embarassed smiley we used to have. That's me right now.

    To see the picture, scroll down about a third of the way to the picture titled "Hay from Romania". You can click on the picture to enlarge it.
    http://www.answers.com/topic/hay
     
  15. Farmer Willy

    Farmer Willy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yes I was, 1st AD. That and my mother comes from Augsburg, still have family there, above and below ground God bless 'em. Anyway, never got close enough to an empty one to see how they held the rack together but figure it shouldn't be that tough if I ever get a notion to build one.
     
  16. frazzlehead

    frazzlehead AppleJackCreek Supporter

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    http://www.scytheconnection.com/adp/hay/loose.html

    There is a lot of information here, including teepee type structures, and other sorts of 'drying racks'.

    I actually built a small teepee out of tomato spirals wired together at the top and the base, and used my scythe to pile up a bit of hay last fall, just as an experiment. We fed it to the bunny all winter, and she seemed to enjoy it! It did stay nice and dry underneath. :)
     
  17. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    Nice site!

    thanks to all for the input.
    Just an update, I visited my stack this morning. It never looked quite like the Hay from Romania pic, but it was close...
    Now it looks like a pacman - as if someone took a big bite out of the side. :p
    I'm trying to think up what I'll say when the neighbors ask me about it....
    Grass art, maybe?
     
  18. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    That is how they make them in Kosovo around a pole they are everywhere wish I was allowed to go ou and help them make them. We are locked down here unless we are on "missions"