stacking loose hay, making a haycock

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by beast, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    someone asked me last night how hay was stored outside and kept usable
    for a very long time hay was cut with scythes, raked by hand, loaded with hayforks
    and piled out in the yard someplace until it was fed out to the livestock
    this hay didnt mold or mildew, it shed rain and snow just like a thatched roof
    so for the benefit of those who would like to learn how
    im going to tell you how to make a haycock

    the first thing you need to do is keep the hay off the ground
    as anyone who has worked with hay knows, it draws moisture from the soil and rots
    a well laid out brush pile works wonders, or a platform made of old pallets
    even some small poles covered in brush, any bit of wood that makes an elevated deck
    will help keep your hay from spoiling from the bottom up

    in the center of this platform, it helps to have a pole standing upright
    this not only gives you a guide for stacking but gives something to grab if you lose your balance
    you dont want this pole to go higher than your haycock tho, as it leaves an opening for water to come in
    there is a way to try and seal it but it takes lots of practice to get it right

    once your pole and platform are ready, you start laying forkfulls of hay around in a circle
    the size you want the base of your haycock to be, say 12 feet in diameter
    overlap each forkfull just a little bit so the fibers get "tied in" to each other
    once the outer ring is finished all the way around
    do a second row inside the first and slightly overlapping it
    when it is done, add another layer to the outer ring
    now do a third ring inside the second one followed by a second layer on the second ring
    you want to build your layers so they slope downward into the center pole
    and add more rings toward the middle as you go, try to keep the outer ring no more than a foot higher than the center
    as you add each layer, walk on it and pack it down tightly, this will give you a decent place to stand and walk as you build the cock
    and believe me, when youre 12 feet off the ground stacking your hay, you will be thankfull that you packed it well
    as your pile gets higher, push the outer row out just a smidgen each time
    this reverse taper will help the bottom parts of the haycock shed rain
    when you near the top, start pulling the outer ring in again and build a domed top on your haycock
    the most important thing about stacking your hay is raking the outer layers so they run down
    like the thatching on and old roof, down-hanging ends shed water, crosswise strands catch and hold it
    when youve reached the very top, make a sheath of hay, thats a couple good hands full laying the same direction
    and tied in place with a few twisted strands, spread out the bottoms like a teepee and set this over the very top of your haycock
    slide down off the side and dont let anyone climb on your masterpiece
    as long as its left untouched it will shed water like the best roof
    if you do lose any hay it will be less than 2 inches on the top dome of the pile
  2. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    chelloveck and Kingfish like this.
  3. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    Beast, I built an indoors haycock using two old ladder sections. I did it for two reason. Keeps the wild rabbits from crapping on the hay and keeps it up off the floor dry and safe from rotting. I cut ours by hand and rake it into rows and just roll it up and tie the bundles. Then carry them into the barn and stack on the ladders I have enough stored from this summer to feed my rabbits all winter. I dont need a cart as my alfalfa patch is right next to the barn. Your post has added confidence to my storage methods. KF
  4. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    your hay rolls are how the first bales were made
  5. inAsia

    inAsia Monkey+

    Curious, other than for safety, why would the outer rim be kept higher duration the bulk of construction? Looking forward to trying this.
  6. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    As a kid raised on our old farm we stacked hay around a pole. It will last well that way. We also stacked hay bales into barns and sheds.
  7. I have several old pull behind tractor items like my baler. I hope to run my tractor off of wood gas generator after I finish the experiment converting the old ton flatbed to wood gas.

    Of course If available I plan on using coal in the generator because the by product is coke which is great for the forge.

    Still if it will out gas, it is able to be used as a fuel. I heard of one that used coffee grounds from some coffee place. Not sure how they got enough, but i read it anyway.

    we stacked hay around a pole, but usually it goes in the hay barn in bales, or could be pitch forked up loose and stacked up there if we chose to.
  8. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    When I was a kid, 50 years ago, I worked on, and for, my Godfather, on his 640 Acre Farm in Western Washington. He ran a small herd of cows, and grew his own Hay for winter feed, on the place, in 4 separate fields. We had a Super Farmall Tractor, with PTO Cutter-Bar Implement and a Tow-behind Hay-Rake, that us Kids had to ride and operate, the week after we did the cutting, usually the first week of August. I learned to drive, on that Tractor, and his Chevy Pick-up truck, during Hay Week, down on the farm. We would had to hand pitch, the Raked rows, into the Pickup and used a Hay-Fork, driven off the Tractor, on a Suspended Rail, in the Peak of the Barn. The Hay was piled on a platform made of 4 layers of old Pallet-boards, that allowed air to circulate under the Hay Pile, so that it could cure over the Fall. No fancy Bales, in those days, just a BIG Pile of Hat, set on the platform. As Kids we would go play TAG, in the Barn, on weekends, most of the winter, unless we were hunting out in the places Duck Blinds. Very nice way to spend weekends, for a City Boy, down on the Farm.
    ...... YMMV....
survivalmonkey SSL seal warrant canary