22 July 2011

Use of Hay Caps


Hay Caps on hay cocks in modern-day Ireland

Hay-caps ought to be reckoned among the labor-saving implements of the farm, so far as their economy is concerned; and we have yet to hear of a careful farmer, who has once adopted and used them wisely, who has discarded or thrown them aside. They have saved thousands of tons of hay, after it was partially cured and cocked up, from waste and ruin, and of course they have saved a vast amount of labor and worry, which a storm under such circumstances occasions. Made of simple cotton cloth, to be fastened with wooden pins at the corners, they are not very expensive, and four or five and a half feet square is large enough. Good, compactly woven, light sheeting is as useful as any material, and better to handle than if it were heavy. A simple cord-loop, sewn in at each corner, is the most convenient way of fastening, as it admits of some play on the wooden pins. Hay caps properly made, and stowed away where they are handy to access, can be applied in a few minutes’ time, and they have often saved their whole cost in a single storm. They can be made in winter, and kept ready for use in any sudden emergency. 

Modern-day Romanian hay cock (also called a rick) without a cap


Hay ricks in Wisconsin (photo link)


Speaking of hay and haymaking, the following silent movie shows farmers making hay in England using horse and human power over 100 years ago. Horse-powered mowers were introduced into agriculture in the mid 1800s. This movie is a rare look back at the Agrarian Nation of the past (and perhaps a look ahead into the Agrarian Nation of the future).


For another perspective on making hay with horses, the following movie shows a horsedrawn buckrake being used to gather jags of cured hay, and then the hay being stacked  (again, with horsepower) using a mechanical overshot stacker.

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Anonymous said...

So, the caps keep rain from getting into the center of the rick?

It made me smile to see the kids playing in the hay, and I wondered if perhaps their parents had them "playing" in the hay for a purpose - is it necessary to fluff the hay before you stack it?

Love these entries!


Herrick Kimball said...


It looks like that is exactly what the caps do. It's kind of funny that this is written about in the 1877 farmer's almanac as some sort of revolutionary new idea because it's so simple. Today we can just put a small plastic tarp over the top and that may be what the white hay caps in the top picture are made of.

Farmer's "ted" hay to help it dry. Tedding is something akin to "fluffing." Here is the 1828 definition:

TED, verb; Among farmers, to spread; to turn new mowed grass from the swath, and scatter it for drying.

Ryan said...


Maple Valley Farm has an entertaining set of videos on bringing in the hay.