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Date:10/24/2014 3:20:39 AM
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Making Hay, Part III
When I was a kid, a roundhouse punch was referred to as a "hay-maker". This alluded to the roundabout sweep of a scythe as a Countryman reaped a crop. As we all know, the "Grim Reaper" carries such a tool as he collects his grim harvest. Of course nowadays, like topping a stack, using a scythe has become a lost art, except for the Amish. I wish I would've asked my Pa to show me how it was done. I've used the scythe each year to cut the previous year's asparagus growth and to hack down the Cow's Cud that grows along the road and driveway. Try as I may, I am unable to master the smooth technique of the old masters. Those old farmers would have an oblong whetstone sticking out of their back pockets and at intervals they would whip it out, spit on it, and quickly sharpen their scythe. I know that those wizened men would usually work themselves to death by their 60s, but still, I envy them.

At La Ferme Sabloneuse, we still use the McCormick hay mower to cut hay. I've re-posted a photo of my Pa as a younger man on the mower and posted another one from about 15 years ago of Eldest Brother David and I on the same mower. We had two such mowers when I was a kid. Pa took the parts of one and used them to renovate the other. I remember that he needed an end piece for the blade and made me call Lon's Implement and ask if they had such a piece for a 1903 McCormick Hay Mower. I think that you already know the answer. Not to be deterred, as the saying goes, Pa simply took the brass door plate of a common household interior door lock system, filed an edge to it, and bolted it to the mower. I remember that a few years ago, David had to revisit the rusting hulk of the junked mower for more parts for the one still in service. In addition to the banner hay making year of 1970, I remember in 1988 we harvested a huge crop of hay using the same implements and transported a haystack via the tractor and hay-wagon to a neighbor's who had three horses. A few years later we cut another big crop and allowed a neighbor to come in with his baler and harvested 85 standard bales of hay.

From that time til now, farmers have switched to giant rolls of hay and then to giant rectangular bales. More about this when I finish up my series on Making Hay. -- Gary
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