The Milk and Human Kindness: What I’ve Learned of Tri-Pod Haymaking
by Suzanne Lupien of Thetford Center, VT
My Thoughts and Experiences with Tripod Haymaking
Over the past year this publication has printed descriptions of two farmers’ forays into tripod haymaking and I’d like to add my own: the result of many years of study and thought, and periodic practice.
I have no doubt that when the time comes we are going to need to know how to make hay this way, whether it be this Proctor Tripod method, or the French rack method illustrated in André Voisin’s great book “Grass Productivity” or the Scandinavian “Swedish Rider” method of tightly strung wire “fences” for hay to dry on. Each method has its pros and cons, and it’s my belief that the “Swedish Riders” is the easiest to learn and the Proctor Method may be the most difficult.
I can’t give you exact dates but I believe that Alexander Proctor, a Scot, had his method perfected and his business in operation between the two World Wars, but in any case Newman Turner and Friend Sykes, two legendary English farmers were immersed in the Proctor Method just after the 2nd World War. Proctor did print a little informational booklet about his method, but it was not a how-to booklet. He sold the tripods and trestles to you and sent out a representative from the company to teach you how to set them up and fork hay onto them properly, stating most emphatically that it could not be mastered without his instruction. That made a big impression on me! Newman Turner’s book “Fertility Farming” devotes a chapter to the Proctor method with murky yet illuminating photographs and in Friend Sykes book “Humus and the Farmer” you see magnificent fields of oats tripoded. Friend Sykes had 2,000 sets of tripods.
I am not an expert by any means. I wish I were! I have built quite a few sets of tripods and trestles by pouring over the photos in “Fertility Farming” and as I have found that size of the tripod and correct proportions of the parts have a major effect on the success of the stack, I want to share this with you in the hope that it will contribute, in turn, to your own trials and mastery. Effective practice of this method is going to make it possible for folks to keep a cow, or a horse, someday when baling hay is no longer possible.