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 

Top Headlines from Wisconsin Farmer:

Farmer’s hoping for better future as 2019 runs out.

2019: A season of rain and planting-harvesting delays.

Faith based winter markets helps farmers get through the slow season

Read or Share this story: