Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hay and Lots of It , Part 2/3

The machines that a modern farm uses to harvest crops are incredible. Machines that are designed often for one purpose, however they do that task so well and so efficiently it is mind blowing.

This device is a hay rake, it is used after the field is cut and dried. The hay rake is a set of angled tines rotating around themselves to force the hay into furrows for the harvester to harvest. The cutting and the drying are done with the help of two other piece of equipment that because of the pace of harvesting I have no pictures of. The cutter is scary, it has blades and grabbers and other sharp things, we found a couple of somewhat flattened and chopped field mice that where not fast enough. The drying process is done with the help of a hay fluffer which tosses the hay into the air rotating it so that it gets evenly dried. It is very important to dry hay to the optimal point of water content, because to dry hay is not very good and wet hay starts fires. Many barn fires are caused by wet hay. When hay is wet bacteria start eating it, they produce heat and since hay is also a good insulter this can cause a large heat build up which can sometimes cause fire. Interestingly this effect of rotting hay being hot has been used to keep animals warm in winter.

The harvester is an incredibly complicated machine. On the right you can see a bit of yellow this is where the scoop is. The harvester is driven so that the furrows run into the scoop of the machine where a spinning rack of tines grab the hay and pull it in. At this point the hay runs into an auger which forces the hay into a chamber where a piston compresses the hay into rectangular bales. As the bale moves through the machine there are two stings tied around it and secured with square knots. The machine has a very complicated set of gears that tie square knots (somewhere around 30 I believe, hopefully at some point I will get pictures of this device and post about it). There is an open panel in the machine in this picture and the twine used to bale the hay is seen with my friend Jimmy's brother Dan working to replace the reams of twine (Jimmy is the one running, I can't recall what for). After the bale is completed the bale is forced toward the back of the machine where they haypult is. At the back of the machine inside the yellow cage is a shiny platform, when a bale gets to the end of the platform it pushes a lever which causes the platform to launch the hay bale into the air about 8-10 feet high and about 12-18 feet back. Now see the next picture for the continuation of this explanation.

The hay gets launched into the wagon behind where one or two people attempt to catch/redirect the hay in an orderly manner. As the wagon fills with hay the catcher has to balance on the moving wagon while standing on as many as 4 levels of hay bales. The wagon is then unhitched and connected to the truck (that I was in when I took this picture of my friend Pasha in the foreground and Jimmy's other brother Shawn in the background, Dan is driving the tractor). The truck pulls away and the other hay wagon is hitched to the tractor so the harvest can continue as the truck takes the full wagon back to the barn to unload. After unloading the empty wagon is brought back to the field to be filled and the now refilled second wagon is hitched to the truck. This was pretty much non-stop with about 30 minutes for lunch for around 8-9 hours two days in a row. The unloading of the hay is another issue all together and I will tell you about it next week.

What kind of farm post would this be on The Lansey Brothers' Blog if I didn't have a picture of the inside of the tractor.


  1. There are actually halakhic ramifications to the wet hay thing - you can't insulate food with it on Shabbat!

    And, I'd love to see an action shot or video of the haypault!

  2. agreed, the haypault looks like the most fun of all, maybe you can even get to ride on a flying thing of hay. Great post!

  3. You do not want to take a ride on the haypault, it would easy take off a limb. It's actually very scary because it is so easy to not notice and then bam no more arm. It actuates at very high speed with enormous amount of power.