Hay Sledding

Paul Chandler on his sled stacked with hay in 1938.  Most NP farmers had turned to dairying as a means of securing a steady income in the depression.  Many farmers “put their hay up” cheaply and with less labor by simply stacking it in the fields. Then they sold it “as is, where is” in the field. 044 1938 sledding hayMeaning that anyone buying it had to go into the fields and haul it from there.

Often that was not a very good idea when the land might not be frozen, and if muddy, would be very difficult.  We often bought such a haystack–you usually bought the entire stack.  But depending upon the time of the season, it would or could be a mighty big chore to get it out.  We could spend an entire day getting stuck again and again.  Here, in this photo, we have snow, and farmers back then had sleds. Getting such stacks, with a sled became a “walk in the park” with snow.  In the 30s we had snow on the ground most of the winter. Our buggies even had interchangeable sleighs that could replace the usual wheels, individually.

In the 30s it was not uncommon to have deer or elk come down out of the mountains, and feed off these outlying stacks. Farmers even put up fences around their stacks. Still, hungry deer and elk could jump the fence and jump up onto the stacks.  It was bad enough to lose hay, but often these animals would pierce the ice and snow cap  and the weathered hay that acted as a “cap” to protect hay underneath. In other words, you sacrificed 95% of the stack by the 5% lost to use as a cap.  Deer or elk up on the stack have sharp hooves that pierce this cap–and let water down into the middle of the stack.  When “opening” such stacks you find that these penetrations caused the entire stack to be moldy, decayed and spoiled.  If you bought such a stack, then it was customary for the seller to return monies paid. But, even so, you still lost the effort to open the stack–and perhaps the needed feed to winter your stock.

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