Facebook  YouTube

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PST

TMAHK Tripod Haymaking

TMAHK Tripod Haymaking

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.

1) A twelve to eighteen hour window of dry weather is needed to mow the hay and ted it once.

2) The hay needs to be long stemmed

TMAHK Tripod Haymaking

3) Proctor’s tripods are ideal in heft and proportion, a critically important point for practicality, functionality, and durability. In the field as well as in storage. When erected the legs of the tripods need to splay just right, to stand very securely and still maintain an attitude of verticality. The height and splay are essential to carry the load of hay and to provide the correct skeleton for building the hollow, vertical sided haystack for successful curing. Stability through heavy winds is a factor, especially in Great Britain. Sheer verticality is an equally important factor to shed rain. Bear in mind that curing time may require three weeks. Newman Turner writes that he regularly moved his cured tripods with a rear tractor sweep to a central location for stationary baling or direct feeding. This information adds more understanding of how stout these tripods should be. Poles 7’ long and 3” in diameter must be about right; debarked, smooth poles; uniform.

TMAHK Tripod Haymaking

4) The trestles’ function is to establish air channels into the hollow core of the stack during forking up the stack, and then to be easily removed when the stack is complete and carried forward to the next naked set of tripods to build the next haystack. Proctor’s tripods are made of wooden slats, 1”x2” and 2”x2” for the uprights, with diagonal bracing; overall dimensions something like 2’ high and 2 1/2’ long: probably hinged at the top rather than wired together. My guess is that the middle upright acted as a guide for the finished thickness of the hay wall.

5) The wire on the Proctor tripod skirted the tripod in two places in addition to the wire which bound the poles together at the very top. It must be heavy gauge, yet malleable. I drilled holes in my poles for the wire to pass through so I could ensure proper placement of the wires.

According to Turner, and Sykes, and Proctor this method is weatherproof. With the 12-18 hour window of clear weather to mow and ted and build the stack, no amount of rain subsequent to this would injure the stack; and that over a period of about three weeks the hay would be cured. Period. The key to the method is in proper set up of the tripods and how the hay is placed on the tripods. The wires keep the hay off the ground and provide a structure to keep the hay from sliding downward. Lightly forking the hay to create as much air space in the hay itself, while maintaining a hollow core and a vertical sided stack are the key ingredients to building a stack that will cure and not mold. The trestles are not part of the haystack. They are only there to create air channels and help to build uniformly thick walls of hay. You will remove them, as I said earlier, as soon as the stack is built. Do not let the hay settle below the tops of the poles, or water will collect there and ruin your hay. The top of the stack needs a good forkful to get a convex shape. I heartily agree with Newman Turner. There is no better hay than properly made tripoded hay!

In my next article I will write on butter making A-Z, tending your cow’s hooves, building a medieval covered hay storage structure, and more!

Spotlight On: People

Great Oregon Steam Up

Great Oregon Steam-Up

by:
from issue:

I went to the Great Oregon Steam-Up over in Brooks, Oregon, near Salem. Lynn has been invited and has wanted to attend for years, but this time of year might very well be the busiest time of year for him. He’s always farming or writing or editing or painting or forecasting or businessing or just generally fightin’ the power, yo. It’s nuts, I don’t know how he does it all. So, when I told him I was going to go, he was very interested and wanted a good report.

Central Oregon Locavore Online Fundraiser

CENTRAL OREGON LOCAVORE NEEDS YOUR HELP! We at SFJ can relate.  Central Oregon Locavore is running a GoFundMe campaign, similar to our Kickstarter campaign earlier this year.  Follow the links to learn more about Locavore and to show your support. www.centraloregonlocavore.org www.gofundme.com/locavore Central Oregon Locavore works for an ecologically stable and socially just food system […]

Mule Powered Wrecker Service

Mule Drawn Wrecker Service

This will only add fuel to those late night discoursians about the relative merits of horses over mules or viciversy. Is the horse the smarter one for hitching a ride or is the mule the smarter one for recognizing the political opportunity which this all represents? In any event these boys know what they are doing, or should, so don’t try this at home without horse tranquilizers. Remember that politics is a luke warm bowl of thin soup.

Loose Hay with Ryan Foxley

Loose Hay with Ryan Foxley A Farmrun Production by Andrew Plotsky

Mayfield Farm

Mayfield Farm, New South Wales, Australia

by:
from issue:

Mayfield Farm is a small family owned and operated mixed farm situated at 1150 m above sea level on the eastern edge of the Great Dividing Range in northern New South Wales, Australia. Siblings, Sandra and Ian Bannerman, purchased the 350 acre property in October, 2013, and have converted it from a conventionally operated farm to one that is run on organic principles. Additional workers on the farm include Janette, Ian’s wife, and Jessica, Ian’s daughter.

Typical Range Ride

Typical Range Ride

by:
from issue:

I head up the steep trail through the rocks and sagebrush behind our house. The smell of dewy sage fills my nostrils as my horse brushes the shrubs along the trail, and a horned lark flits up from her nest on the ground as we go by. A mother grouse bursts into the air and does her broken-wing act (her strategy to lead a predator away from her babies, who are scattering out through the grass).

Sack Sewing with Wayne Ryan

Sack Sewing with Wayne Ryan

by:
from issue:

Watching Wayne’s sure hands it was easy for me to forget that this is a 91 year old man. There was strength, economy, elegance and thrift in his every stroke.

Farmrun A Reverence for Excellence

A Reverence for Excellence

A portrait of Maple Rock Farm and Hogstone’s Wood Oven, a unique farm and restaurant on Orcas Island where the farmers are the chefs, A Reverence for Excellence strives to be an honest portrayal of the patience, toil, conviction and faith required of an agrarian livelihood.

Ripening

Poetry Corner: What A Boy Lies Awake Wondering

This is a poem from Paul Hunter’s book Ripening.

Field Weeds and Street Boys

Field Weeds and Street Boys

by:
from issue:

So, our farming system to feed hungry street boys is to have them farm “weeds”. As we have all experienced, weeds are perfectly adapted to their climate, are robust and need no fertilizer nor any of the insecticides to enhance a good crop. Because we are aiming for long term diversified permaculture (this is a Shea native tree area), we needed some very quick marketable crops while we wait for the trees to mature. These field weeds intentionally farmed have a ready market in the big city 5 km north.

LittleField Notes A Trip to the Auld Country

LittleField Notes: A Trip to the Auld Country

by:
from issue:

I’ve come to the north of Scotland this October almost by accident. And I find myself standing on the windy, rocky point of land that is northernmost on the isle of Great Britain. The sea lies before me: the flooding tide from the Atlantic pours in on my left where it collides with the North Sea pouring in from the right, the opposing currents whipping up a frenzy of white capped, tidal confusion: for sailors past and present, treacherous waters indeed. Straight ahead, across the seething waters of Pentland Firth lie the Orkney Islands, my ultimate destination.

New York Horsefarmer Ed Button and his Belgians

New York Horsefarmer: Ed Button and his Belgians

In New York State one does not explore the world of draft horses long before the name of Ed Button is invariably and most respectfully mentioned. Ed’s name can be heard in the conversations of nearly everyone concerned with heavy horses from the most experienced teamsters to the most novice horse hobbyists. His career with Belgians includes a vast catalog of activities: showing, pulling, training, farming, breeding, and driving, which Ed says, “I’ve been doing since I was old enough to hold the lines.”

Fjordworks A History of Wrecks Part 2

Fjordworks: A History of Wrecks Part 2

It is always fascinating and at times a little disconcerting to watch how seamlessly the macro-economics of trying to make a living as a farmer in such an out-of-balance society can morph us into shapes we never would have dreamed of when we were getting started. This year we will be putting in a refrigerated walk-in cooler which will allow us to put up more storage-share vegetables.

Bonjour de France

Bonjour de France

by:
from issue:

A little sign of life from France. Everything is going rather well at the tiniest of farms. Besides the veggies I have been plowing in the vineyards of the Bordeaux area to add some extra income. The drafthorses are back over there, so they need horsemen.

In Memoriam Gene Logsdon

In Memoriam: Gene Logsdon

by:
from issue:

Gene didn’t see life (or much of anything else) through conventional eyes. I remember his comment about a course he took in psychology when he was trying to argue that animals did in fact have personalities (as any farmer or rancher will tell you is absolutely true), and the teacher basically told him to sit down and shut up because he didn’t know what he was taking about. Gene said: “I was so angry I left the course and then left the whole stupid school.”

Expanding the Use of the Heavy Draught Horse in Europe

Expanding the Use of the Heavy Draught Horse in Europe

“La Route du Poisson”, or “The Fish Run,” is a 24 hour long relay which starts from Boulogne on the coast at 9 am on Saturday and runs through the night to the outskirts of Paris with relays of heavy horse pairs until 9 am Sunday with associated events on the way. The relay “baton” is an approved cross country competition vehicle carrying a set amount of fresh fish.

Ham & Eggs

Ham & Eggs

Max Godfrey leads Ham & Eggs, at Plant & Sing 2012 at Sylvester Manor.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT