The Hay Stack

By John D. Fogg

'Recollections Of A Salt Marsh Farmer'

Edited by Eric N. Small -- 1983

Section 4

We boys went the second day of mowing to rake and calk it up so not to let it get too dry. It would hold then many days and not hurt until ready to stack. Now it's all mowed, raked, and calked ready to stack, you see a picture of us on our way down that morning to stack see poles beside me in the bow of the gundalow. Jake didn't go when stacking.

They poled in enough hay for the stack and I raked the scatterings. When they got the bottom started I layed the stack. When pitching they had to watch how the stack was being layed out over staddle. The one on the stack had no way of telling how it was looking. They needed some more hay to make a good top.

While they were out getting more, I had then a chance to look around and what a sight to see, all those doing the same as we were, stacking as far as the eye could see in all directions. They came then with that extra hay and when the top where I was standing was about two feet across, father took that two tined, long-handled fork, put up a good sized fork full and layed it, (he couldn't throw like that usually in pitching!) against my legs and said, "Put that right under your feet." Then came the tarred ropes with sticks tied on ends, one for the northeast storms, the other for the northwest wind. That was the best part of the stacking, standing on the very top of the stack.

Now, to get down without a ladder! Father would hand up the small end of a hay pole. He would hold the large end with both hands against his leg and I was to come down, holding to that hay pole on hands and knees, head first, then when I got half way, turn over and jump. When I was coming down the pole they would say, "Don't drag your feet," - that would make holes or water pockets in the stack.

I would like to tell you how we used to haul the hay to the stack several years later. We had to have a horse or mare with us all the time even after the mowing was done. We needed some way to get that hay from the windrow to the stack with the horse to do away with all that hard work of calking and poling. We made that drag. It worked so well there was no way to improve on it. You had to drive with long reins, standing on the short plank. The hay would slide up the side of that plank and keep going forward all the time and by the time it had gotten to the horse's heels, it would be piled up in front of you and out the sides against the ropes. There would be enough to call it a load and you would step off the short plank to stop any more loading. The hay would then slide over the windrow.

To unload at the stack we kept the horse moving and picked up the short plank by the leather loop in the end, lifting it up to reverse the top edge of the long drag plank with bottom edge. It would then flip out from under and that hay would be pressed in so tight it would be as good as pitching. The drag scraped it up clean, leaving no scatterings to rake. Brownie worked well on the dragging didn't get excited when it started going hard.

We dragged the thatch grass up first to lay on the staddles as it is good for that, being so course in starting a stack. I laid the stacks and we now had a ladder to come down off the stack on - no more coming down a hay-pole head first! We stacked an eleven-foot staddle. Father called that a "two-ton one." Another toward the Hampton Harbor east was smaller, say one and one-half ton.

We could have it all stacked in three days. With the drag working so well we now knew what we could do when the next August season came. Father could do the stacking and have it easier. He was to be 61 years old next. George Brown was his paint helper and he helped another year.