Machinery provided haymaking breakthrough

Jerry Apps
Farm machinery like this side-delivery rake, provided an easier way to make hay for the Apps family.

Pa bought our first side-delivery rake back in about 1947. It was an important technological breakthrough. Haymaking was hard work. Now it would be easier.

Before the side-delivery rake, we made hay like this. First Pa cut the hay with our five-foot McCormick mower pulled by our trusty team of horses. Once the hay was cut and dried for a day or so, depending on the weather and lack of rain, he raked the hay with a dump rake, a distant cousin of our new side-delivery rake. 

Once the hay was raked, my brothers, Pa and I piled the hay into little bunches—sort of like overgrown cupcakes that soon appeared across the field. After another drying period, a day or so, we pitched the hay bunches on to our steel-wheeled hay wagon, and hauled it to the barn.

Arriving at the barn, we pitched the hay, into the hay mow, by hand. With three-tined forks. All of this was before 1945, when Pa bought our first tractor. And soon after a side-delivery rake and a hay loader.

Haymaking became easier. Once the hay was cut, now with a tractor-pulled mower pulled by the tractor, the hay was raked in long ropes with the side-delivery rake. No more bunching hay by hand. The tractor pulled the hay wagon—we now had one with rubber tires. A mechanical hay loader was attached to the back of the wagon. which automatically loaded the hay onto the wagon. What could be easier?

THE OLD-TIMER SAYS: Learn to appreciate the things that make life easier.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to