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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Geiss New-Made Hay Loader

Geiss New-Made Hay Loader

Gies’ New-Made Hayloader

by Ken Gies of Fort Plain, NY

The limiting factor when harvesting hay on my small farm has always been loading the hay. Last year, when my third child outgrew my farm, I had only one body left to help hand load my six acres of hay. This year, even that one body was occasionally unavailable. I had started prototyping a mini hayloader to complement my haying efforts with my mini horses and now the crunch was on.

I used what junk I had on hand, old bicycle sprockets and chains, a half rotted swather canvas, pieces of bed frames and one section of hay inverter belting. The result followed conventional hayloader design with the inverter belting serving as a pickup reel, and the swather belting as the elevator carrier and the whole unit trailing the wagon. It was narrow, drew too heavily, and tended to roll the hay like a log. However, it provided a good education in building my own rollers and frame which sped up my second try.

For my second attempt I bought an eighteen foot long, four foot wide hay inverter belt, and almost five hundred nylon teeth. I built a pan under the belting attempting to use the one belt as both a pickup and an elevator in a trailing unit. I based this on the design of the hayloader pictured in Lynn Miller’s book, Haying With Horses, at the top of page 333. However, the inverter teeth were not shaped to drag the hay beneath them and it simply bunched the hay at the bottom of the belt like my first one did.

I was sitting on a 5 gallon bucket staring at the hayloader. I had a significant amount of time and money invested. My wife, the great motivating influence in my life, walked up and asked what I was thinking. I was thinking about dropping the whole project and I told her so. She told me that it had better work since I had spent so much money and time on it already. She doesn’t talk that way very often so I figured I had better come up with a solution.

Now, one thing I have learned over the years is that the best way to solve a problem is to do something else for a while. Some of my best thinking takes place forking manure, so I headed to the corral to clean out the leavings from the previous few days. I thought about that inverter belt and how it was made to be used. Fling a forkful of manure. Then I had a flashback to a picture in a previous SFJ of a Pottinger hay packing wagon of some sort. Fling another forkful. It had a pickup on the front and the hay compartment on the back…. Fling. An inverter belt picks hay up from the front and carries it to the rear…. FLING! I finished cleaning the corral and hurried back to the hayloader.

Geiss New-Made Hay Loader

The hay is picked up by the belt on the lower right and carried up to the top left where it drops onto the wagon which follows.

Over the next few hours I moved the tow hitch from the high side of the hayloader to the low side to reverse the direction of travel. I removed the belt and turned it 180 degrees to change the way the teeth faced. That was faster than turning all the teeth one at a time. Then I removed the pan from under the belting and mounted a piece of roofing tin on top to hold the hay against the teeth. Finally I mounted a cable to serve as a temporary draw point for the wagon. IT WORKED! The sun shone more brightly and my marriage was saved!

Geiss New-Made Hayloader

My son Jeremy packs a load onto the wagon. This sure beats forking it on.

Now that the drama was over, and a genuine success in hand, I felt the compulsion to tell someone about it. Who better than the SFJ readers! So, since I hinted at the hayloader project in The Embarrassingly Late Spring edition of the SFJ, I had all the motivation I needed.

When I first dreamed up the idea of a mini hayloader, I wanted to come up with something that worked and was built with current off-the-shelf components. I have achieved both of those goals.

Geiss New-Made Hayloader

The drive pulley mounts between the rim and the hub.

The base of the unit is an old trailer axle that I extended to straddle the belting and frame. I built two “bells”. These are like very long bolt-on brake drums fitted between the wheel rims and the hubs. They are 7 inches in diameter and 8 inches long. They serve as the drive pulleys for the belting.

Geiss New-Made Hayloader

An example of an alternator over-running pulley. The pulley is threaded onto the driveshaft and has jam nuts on each side. The pulleys have not shifted under hard use.

I used serpentine fan belts as the drive belts and mated them to the driven roller with one way pulleys from off of old alternators. These function like the differential or the overrunning dogs on mowers and “real” hayloaders. The belts are twisted to reverse the driving direction. There is no visible wear on the belts even after more than 10 acres of hay so I am confident that this is an adequate method. Belt tension is maintained by a long threaded eyebolt slid into a 3/4 inch pipe with a jam nut. This assembly is mounted between the axle and the frame close to the bearing blocks of the lower (driven) roller.

Geiss New-Made Hayloader

These flanges are welded to the ends of the rollers and aid in keeping the big belt centered.

I made my own rollers too. I bought some used thinwall 5 inch pipe and cold rolled 3/4 inch rod from a local welding shop. Then, I cut some short pieces of 1/2 inch rod to center the 3/4 inch rod in the 5 inch pipe. There are four pieces of the small rod tucked inside each end of the pipe like spokes on a wheel and welded tight. Next I cut some 8 inch disks from 1/8 inch plate steel to serve as end guides for the rollers, just like the rollers hay inverters use. These are set into the bearings and the whole assembly bolted to the frame.

Geiss New-Made Hayloader

Ground level view of small front pulley (over-running type), drive belt, tensioner and 7 inch drive pulley.

Here are the measurements of all the drive parts that I used to give me a good elevator belt speed. The wheels are 12 inch trailer tires. They are about 20 inches tall. The drive pulley is 7 inches in diameter. The driven pulleys are 2 inches in diameter. The rollers have a diameter of 5 inches. If I were to change anything I would slow the belt down just a bit, maybe three inch pulleys on the rollers. This would hopefully reduce the power needed to run the loader. It is not a deal breaker. However, it takes three ponies to pull the entire rig. Four would be even better. Maybe next year.

Geiss New-Made Hayloader

Hayloader overhead of drive facing the direction of travel.

The caster wheels are mounted on an adjustable frame so that I can set the pickup height. It is also the pull point for the loader and wagon. It has to be rigid enough to be pulled sideways when turning. The tin is mounted between the caster wheels at the bottom and a frame added at the top. Without the tin, the hay slides down or gets blown off sideways on breezy days.

As always, it is an incomplete work. It functions well but may be tweaked in the future. It is part of why I love farming with the mini horses. There is so much opportunity for experimentation. And, the little horses are just so much fun!

Mini Horse Haying

Spotlight On: Book Reviews

Art of Working Horses Another Review

Art of Working Horses – Another Review

from issue:

One could loosely say this is a “how-to” book but it is more of an “existential” how-to: how to get yourself into a way of thinking about the world of working horses. Maybe we need to explain what a working horse is. A working horse is one, in harness, given to a specific task. So, in that context, the book illustrates the many ways Miller has worked with his equine partners over the years – helping them understand what he wants them to do, as both work together to create relationships that help achieve desired goals.

Art of Working Horses

Lynn Miller’s New Book: Art of Working Horses

Art of Working Horses, by Lynn R. Miller, follows on the heels of his other eight Work Horse Library titles. This book tells the inside story of how people today find success working horses and mules in harness, whether it be on farm fields, in the woods, or on the road. Over 500 photos and illustrations accompany an anecdote-rich text which makes a case for the future of true horsepower.

Haltering Foals - Training Workhorses Training Teamsters

Haltering Foals

Lynn Miller’s highly regarded book, “Training Workhorses / Training Teamsters,” is back in print! And that’s not even the most exciting news: The Second Edition is in FULL COLOR! Today’s article, “Haltering Foals,” is an excerpt from Chapter 8, “Imprinting and Training New Born Foals.”


Driving Fence Posts By Hand

Where the soil is soft, loose, and free from stone, posts may be driven more easily and firmly than if set in holes dug for the purpose.

Training Workhorses Training Teamsters Driving Junipers Training

Driving: Juniper’s Training

A final sneak peak at the Second Edition of Lynn R. Miller’s “Training Workhorses / Training Teamsters.” Today’s excerpt, “Driving: Juniper’s Training,” is from Chapter 11, “Starting and Training Older Horses.”

Storey's Guide to Keeping Honey Bees

Storey’s Guide To Keeping Honey Bees

It is well known that the value of pollination and its resultant seed set and fruit formation outweigh any provided by honey bee products like honey and beeswax.

Apples of North America

Freedom has been called the ugly duckling of disease-resistant apple varieties. But that shouldn’t detract from its many merits. These include the freedom from apple-scab infection for which it was named, a high rate of productivity, and an ability to serve as a good pollinator for its more attractive sibling, Liberty.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 4

Assuming that you’ve found a farm you want to buy, next you’ll need to determine if you can buy it. If you have sold your property, and/or saved your money, and have the means to buy the farm you are sitting pretty. If you do not have the full price of a considered farm, in cash or any other form, you will likely have to look for financing.

An Introduction To Farm Woodlands

The farm woodland is that portion of the farm which either never was cleared for tillage or pasture, or was later given back to woods growth. Thus it occupies land that never was considered suitable, or later proved unsuitable, for farm enterprises.

Why Farm

Farming For Art’s Sake: Farming As An Artform

Farming as a vocation is more of a way of living than of making a living. Farming at its best is an Art, at its worst it is an industry. Farming can be an Art because it allows at every juncture for the farmer to create form from his or her vision.

A Quiet Stand

A Quiet Stand

Burnout is common to idealists who invest deeply in their dreams. It is easy to overreach, and promise more than you have to give. Then too there is that tempered hidden anchor called hope, the mountain climber’s friend driven into cracks to belay and secure him as he goes, which still may fail first or last. So following the story that underlies these essays it is not hard to see how, as Kingsnorth says, finding himself increasingly mired in endless meetings with corporate spokesmen paid to resist him, enough futile effort might lead to despair.

Build Your Own Earth Oven

An Introduction To Cob

Mixed with sand, water, and straw, a clayey-subsoil will dry into a very hard and durable material; indeed, it was the first, natural “concrete”. In the Americas, we call it “adobe”, which is originally from the Arabic “al-toba”, meaning “the brick.” Invading Moors brought the word to Spain from North Africa, where an ancient mud building tradition continues today.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 2

How do you learn the true status of that farm with the “for sale” sign? Here are some important pieces of information for you to learn about a given selling farm. The answers will most probably tell you how serious the seller is.

Timing the Bounce

Timing the Bounce: Resilient Agriculture Meets Climate Change

from issue:

In her new book, Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate, Laura Lengnick assumes a dispassionate, businesslike tone and sets about exploring the farming strategies of twenty-seven award-winning farmers in six regions of the continental United States. Her approach gets well past denial and business-as-usual, to see what can be done, which strategies are being tried, and how well they are working.

Retrofitting a Fireplace with a Woodstove

How to Retrofit a Fireplace with a Woodstove

Because the venting requirements for a wood stove are different than for a fireplace you need to retrofit a stainless steel chimney liner. A liner provides the draft necessary to ensure that the stove will operate safely and efficiently.

"Work Horse Handbook, 2nd Edition" by Lynn Miller

Draft Collars and How To Size Them

It is difficult to accurately measure a horse’s neck without fitting. In other words, there are so many variables involved in the shape and size of a horse’s neck that the only accurate and easy way to size the neck is to use several collars and put them on one at a time until fitting is found.

Training Workhorses Training Teamsters First Time Hitching

First Time Hitching

More from Lynn R. Miller’s highly anticipated Second Edition of “Training Workhorses / Training Teamsters.” Today’s excerpt, “First Time Hitching,” is from Chapter 12, “Follow Through to Finish.”

McCormick-Deering No 7 Mower Manual in English & French

McCormick-Deering No. 7 Mower Manual in English & French

Instructions for Setting Up and Operating the McCORMICK-DEERING No. 7 VERTICAL LIFT TWO-HORSE MOWERS — Instructions pour le Montage et le Fonctionnement des FAUCHEUSES A DEUX CHEVAUX McCORMICK-DEERING No. 7 À RELEVAGE VERTICAL

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT