Surplus Taper & Propped Up

Back in the day, when I was a child, we would make hay while the sun shined. After dark too. When the barns were stacked full we began stacking the “surplus” small square bales outside in large square haystacks. The stacks would reach the size of a building and we even tapered the top few layers like a roof line, setting each successive higher layer in from the edge by one half the width of a bale until we narrowed it to only one bale wide along the “ridge”. One neighbor would cover that with a “thatch” of loose hay but on our farm we would end the construct there.

No matter what place and order we would arrange the bales during the projects on the way up as soon as we were done stacking the stacks, settling due to gravity would ensue. Seldom was that settling on an even keel. One side would always settle more and the stacks would start to lean. Then Dad would have us nail a couple boards angled together onto the top of long poles to form a “T”. Those long poles were wedged between the sides of the stack leaning over and the ground below by digging a small divot and setting a short board stake diagonally into the divot to keep the bottom of the poles from sinking into the ground. It took what was once a pretty stack and made it almost an embarrassment. At least for those of us who stacked it.

Sometimes the propping up would work. Most times it failed and the stacks would topple over to be re-stacked beside the original footprint in a new more sustainable manner. Never as pretty as the original stack but sufficient to keep most of the weathering to a minimum. We always started feeding the outside stacked hay first. Even though the stacks were usually the “windbreak” along side the outside of the north fence line of the cattle feedlot. Fed from the top down the wind was still stopped until the piles were nearly gone by spring. The winter snow seldom seeped into the stack like the summer and autumn rains so having the tapered top gone did little damage if the snow was scooped off before the monthly thaws. But the hay was still slowly deteriorating. Eventually we would work through the surplus and move on to the still yummy hay in the barn.

Currently we are smack dab in the middle of our February thaw. I no longer have cattle and Dad is no longer with us but the weather and the warming sun have conjured up that memory. I thought I would share it with you. Take it for what it’s worth, if anything. Given the title, I’m curious as to what pops up when I type that title into You Tube’s search engine to add video.



3 thoughts on “Surplus Taper & Propped Up

  1. Pat Honeywell says:

    How Well I remember those hay stacks we used to put up. When you were still very small us girls were involved in the haying process. It was our women’s liberation. Right!

  2. I’m glad you brought that up, it got me thinking. With you three girls grouped into the center of the family I can see how you were conscripted to do the time sensitive “male” tasks alongside the one big boy left and the three little boys. I remember it infused a lot of levity into the tasks that just weren’t there in your absence. We were able to make it fun. Later on after your girls’ emancipation (adulthood) us “little boys” were tasked to don the apron and help out in the big house. Skills that came in handy later during my nearly ten years of true freedom without a wife and kids.

    The Navy had me mopping the deck (Deck Division II) as permanent duty and for ninety days doing kitchen work (Mess Cranking Duty). When I had my own dwelling I had myself doing the same and more. I’m still not a bad cook, but Mom always took care of that and the Navy had cooks. For thirty days of my mess cranking I got to wash the cooks’ pots and pans, they (and we then) got to work one day on and one day off. Later in my own dwelling I taught myself to cook and do laundry (Something else Mom always took care of as did the navy).

    My teenage daughter broke up with her boyfriend the other day and looked sad. I had to ask her, “How does freedom feel?” to help her put it all into perspective. Even though she’s still not free from living with us. And if your living under our roof …. You know the drill.


  3. Cecelia A Dea says:

    Just found your new(?) blog and boy did this bring back lots of memories! I remember going to the top of those haystacks when you boys were off the farm with Becky and sunbathing a few times. Best place to do it and Mom couldn’t find us! Always hated making hay but we made it into fun times for all of us while we were doing it! We all learned to work hard on that farm and thank God we did!

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