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View Full Version : Farm kids jumping in hay; is it fun? (real but not that serious request)



woozy
09-17-2012, 05:59 AM
I don't *really* need to know the answer to this and this could diverge into sillines but:

Every farm kid I ever knew (all *five* of them!! woo! I'm such a worldly guy!) *loved* jumping in hay. Especially jumping from a loft in a barn down into a pile. Now I remember it as stacks of newly hand baled hay. But memory is a self-editing (or so the theory goes).

So, I wrote a bit about a girl jumping out of a loft onto her back onto a pile of hay bales. But as it was february the hay bales have condensed and settled and she was a bit jolted when landed.

So I get a critique: "Why would a girl who grew up on a farm expect hay bales to be soft. Machine bales are hard."

So questions. Assume hand-baled ,not machine baled, as my WIP is historical and not modern:

Is jumping in hay fun?

How is hay stored in a barn? In stacks or in bales? Or both? Which are and are not fun? Is it more fun to jump onto your feet or your back in each instance?

For how long is still fun to jump in hay?
On a summer day when the hay is freshly cut and stacked it is irressistable.
But how about in October when it's been sitting around for a few months?
How about the rainy days of late winter and early spring when the hay is rather old and musty?
"No go"? Or: "well, it's better in summer but you take what you can get"?
And, seriously, if you were 12 years old goofing off in the loft of a barn and you decide to come down and you can chose between the rung ladder* or jumping into a couple of bales of hay, you'd choose to jump, wouldn't you? I would.

* Do those rung ladders built into a wall or post have a name? I might as well ask that.

KellyAssauer
09-17-2012, 06:27 AM
Wow...

Dem's a lot of questions.

Old-time hay bale barns were big, really big. The first set of 'beams' in my Grandparent's barn were ten feet from the floor. There was a second set above that, and a third set just under the peak.

The first cutting of hay was bailed and stacked from the back corner in an ever growing lego-like layers. By the second cut, one end of the barn had been filled twenty some feet high.

Bales were hard at first, greenish tinted and stiff. As they dried out, they become 'less stiff' but never really 'soft'.

The problem with hay is that it's not an exact thing. The bales don't always stay together, and as you move them down to feed... stuff gets everywhere. That's the fun stuff to jump in. It's like jumping in dead leafs. You grab a pitchfork and pile up the loose off the floor and run upstairs to a beam and off you go. Boys needed little encouragement, some girls would, others wouldn't...

The taller that pile of loose hay, the lower the bales got, but sometimes, when everything was 'just right' you could climb the bale pile up to the second set of beams.

That was scary fun. At twenty feet up there's that 'weird' feeling during the fall of not moving at all, as if you're just suspended there in the air... then boom... you're not.

Musty smells are a barn - along with other scents... bales are not fun to land on. If you could hit them square with your feet, you still fell over, but there's a chance when jumping down to a bale stack that a foot can go wrong and slip off and suddenly your leg is three feet down in between stacks... which might be painful to more than your leg.

Fresh cut bales - harder - so easy to resist.
Summer meant shorts, so not so comfy to jump because hay can scratch up your skin like a rash. October would be more fun.

How long is it still fun?
Pfft. I'd do it now. =)

That barn had real steps to the second floor and a wooden ladder...

Hope that helps.

woozy
09-17-2012, 06:45 AM
Thank you!!!!!


Wow...

Dem's a lot of questions.
Okay, here's just one: What's it like for a kid to jump in hay?




Bales were hard at first, greenish tinted and stiff. As they dried out, they become 'less stiff' but never really 'soft'.

When does that take place? Summer? Mayish or Augustish or when?




The problem with hay is that it's not an exact thing. The bales don't always stay together, and as you move them down to feed... stuff gets everywhere. That's the fun stuff to jump in.
So.... you'll have a big pile of loose hay next to and probably over-flowing onto a stack of bales? I think that's what I remember seeing...



How long is it still fun?
Pfft. I'd do it now. =)

Ah. So would I!
But I meant how long in the year is it still fun?
Would you do it in the rainy days of winter? (Or rainy days of spring as you probably have stronger weather than my MC has in California.)




Hope that helps.
Are you kidding? That's perfect!

But keep the answers coming everybody. I want experience.

woozy
09-17-2012, 06:50 AM
Here's the trouble passage. This takes place in late february or early March in California.

Upon hearing the rain stop, Nimi jumped over the edge of the hayloft onto the hay bales below. After a damp winter the hay bales had settled a bit. Rather than the soft landing she had expected, Nimi landed with a thud that rattled her teeth. She wasn’t hurt but she would have to try to remember that the season for jumping onto hay bales was probably over.

Rhubix
09-17-2012, 08:14 AM
I grew up in the woods- not on a farm. So we didn't have bales of anything. But this reminds me of the time we saw a bunch of kids on tv playing in the dead leaves. It seemed like fun, so me and my sister went outside and raked up a big pile of leaves.
Jumping in for the first time I was so excited, until I landed in the pile and it was soggy, cold, and full of slugs and worms.
I don't know where this kids lives- but after a long wet winter, leaves are nasty.
In fact, where i grew up, fall leaves were not much better.
So if the hay is loose - after the winter it might just be gross.

woozy
09-17-2012, 08:23 AM
Laughing! Good story! and yeah, I did something maybe like that after reading a peanuts cartoon with people jumping into leaves. Wasn't as gross as yours. (still chuckling) Fewer, but not zero, slugs. I think my disappointment was just how little padding my pathetic mound which I though looked large enough was. It was two or three cubic feet at most. I ran and jumped ... and basically landed on the ground with the soles of my shoes in half an inch of leaves.

The hay would have been in a barn all winter in California. (Yeah, I know, California winter. Oxymoron) But I have *no* idea how much hay would be left or how soggy or "stale" it would be.



I grew up in the woods- not on a farm. So we didn't have bales of anything. But this reminds me of the time we saw a bunch of kids on tv playing in the dead leaves. It seemed like fun, so me and my sister went outside and raked up a big pile of leaves.
Jumping in for the first time I was so excited, until I landed in the pile and it was soggy, cold, and full of slugs and worms.
I don't know where this kids lives- but after a long wet winter, leaves are nasty.
In fact, where i grew up, fall leaves were not much better.
So if the hay is loose - after the winter it might just be gross.

anguswalker
09-17-2012, 02:29 PM
If it was at all "how soggy or stale" then it would be time to clear it out onto the dung heap I'm afraid. Hay has to be kept bone dry or it will start growing a variety of moulds that would probably be fatal to livestock. You can tell in an instant if you walk into a haybarn where the hay has got damp and is going mouldy and no self-respecting farmer would let that happen. So if the damp winter has led to the hay getting damp then it's no hay at all, rather than "soggy" or "stale" hay. I'm afraid that the concept of haybales getting harder as the season progresses doesn't make much sense to me either. If stored properly they just get a little drier, so actually less dense (if even more scratchy). If not stored properly then, as I say, they get thrown away.

There is a possible alternative though. Hay isn't always baled for storage but can be packed in a 'rick' from which feed is taken as required. Over the season inevitably the pile gets lower and lower until eventually there is too little left to provide a good cushion over the hard ground beneath. In those circumstances jumping into it can be a less pleasurable experience than expected!

Be aware though of the pattern of hay use (and so the reduction of the hay in storage) over the course of the year, as it is all shifted a bit later in the year than people often think. Livestock can't get by on pasture grass until it is growing strongly, quite late in the spring and the hay has to last until then. In Scotland for instance the "hungry gap" when foodstuffs in storage are running out and the pasture grass hasn't started growing strongly enough yet is more likely to be April than March- often in fact into May.

Buffysquirrel
09-17-2012, 04:06 PM
I don't remember ever jumping in hay. We weren't really farm kids, but a field my family owned was cut for hay every year. We played with the bales. A LOT. Bales aren't soft, they are prickly. You can climb on them. You can build forts with them. Oh yeah....

buz
09-17-2012, 04:36 PM
I don't *really* need to know the answer to this and this could diverge into sillines but:

Every farm kid I ever knew (all *five* of them!! woo! I'm such a worldly guy!) *loved* jumping in hay. Especially jumping from a loft in a barn down into a pile. Now I remember it as stacks of newly hand baled hay. But memory is a self-editing (or so the theory goes).

So, I wrote a bit about a girl jumping out of a loft onto her back onto a pile of hay bales. But as it was february the hay bales have condensed and settled and she was a bit jolted when landed.

So I get a critique: "Why would a girl who grew up on a farm expect hay bales to be soft. Machine bales are hard."

So questions. Assume hand-baled ,not machine baled, as my WIP is historical and not modern:

Is jumping in hay fun?

How is hay stored in a barn? In stacks or in bales? Or both? Which are and are not fun? Is it more fun to jump onto your feet or your back in each instance?

For how long is still fun to jump in hay?
On a summer day when the hay is freshly cut and stacked it is irressistable.
But how about in October when it's been sitting around for a few months?
How about the rainy days of late winter and early spring when the hay is rather old and musty?
"No go"? Or: "well, it's better in summer but you take what you can get"?
And, seriously, if you were 12 years old goofing off in the loft of a barn and you decide to come down and you can chose between the rung ladder* or jumping into a couple of bales of hay, you'd choose to jump, wouldn't you? I would.

* Do those rung ladders built into a wall or post have a name? I might as well ask that.

How hay is stored and kept and used and all that depends on the barn. I've worked on a few horse farms and had machine-baled hay stacked floor to ceiling, up in the hay loft (like, the barn's attic, just above the stalls) as well as round bales out in the pasture when the grass was crap (and we pretty much just put those out when we got them; we didn't ever store them on the property--but I guess you could--best to have tarp to cover them and put them on pallets or something so they don't get nasty).

If the hay is musty, moldy, or damp, they'd need to get rid of it (if they aren't shitty hay farmers), because at that point is at best useless (horses won't eat it, usually) and at worst dangerous (if they eat it, there's a good chance they'll get sick) to feed.

Hay in bales is usually prickly and scratchy and when you handle it you can get little cuts and scrapes all over yourself and it often gets jammed up under your fingernails. And you're like, fuck.

But jumping into it...I don't know how much that would matter.

But how hard the bales come is variable. Sometimes we get a shipment of bales that fall apart when you touch them. Sometimes we get shipments of bales that are baled so tight, they're hard as bricks. I don't know that hand-baling would get you bricks. And I think, if it's historical, that loose piles of hay would be more common (yes? I think. My quick scan of Wikipedia seemed to imply that, so, it's fact. :P ), which I would jump into in a heartbeat.

I have tossed down a bunch of hay bales from the loft and then jumped into it. So it wasn't stacked, just in a random pile of bales. Only once, 'cause I was pretty sure I'd get fired if anyone saw me. But yes, it was fun and kinda terrifying. (And, if age matters, I was twenty-two.) I didn't notice if the bales were hard or not...it was kinda jarring, but I didn't hurt myself, so, success. :D I don't think the kid would think about how hard the bales were. The fun part is the "you get to jump off a building and not die" part.

Yeah. I'd choose to jump. :D

(We just called the ladders ladders.)

PS. I think height is what matters most. :D (From jump off point to height of hay.) When I jumped, it wasn't much of a fall. I can imagine hurting yourself pretty seriously with more air time...

shaldna
09-17-2012, 04:37 PM
I don't *really* need to know the answer to this and this could diverge into sillines but:

Every farm kid I ever knew (all *five* of them!! woo! I'm such a worldly guy!) *loved* jumping in hay. Especially jumping from a loft in a barn down into a pile. Now I remember it as stacks of newly hand baled hay. But memory is a self-editing (or so the theory goes).

Our folks would have KILLED us if they'd caught us doing that - there are SO many accidents caused by this - my friend fell off the top of the hay loft and shattered her leg - several major surgeries later and it's held together with write and she'll have a limp for the rest of her life.

One of the dogs at a farm I worked at was crushed to death by hay falling - the kids had been climbing on it and disloged it.

Not to mention that the floor of a hayshed is concrete, and it doesn't take much to miss a bale.

My daughter isn't even allowed near our hay shed, let alone anywhere near the bales.


So, I wrote a bit about a girl jumping out of a loft onto her back onto a pile of hay bales. But as it was february the hay bales have condensed and settled and she was a bit jolted when landed.

So I get a critique: "Why would a girl who grew up on a farm expect hay bales to be soft. Machine bales are hard."

So questions. Assume hand-baled ,not machine baled, as my WIP is historical and not modern:

Hay bales are pretty hard, and itchy as fuck, so even if you land okay, you're gonna be pretty scratched up.

Even if they bale it by hand with a box baler - pretty basic - it still compresses the hay into a brick for handling - if it were soft it would fall apart and you wouldn't be able to move it - useless to a farmer.




Is jumping in hay fun?

No. It's itchy and sore. :( and often full of creepy crawlies. And you spend hours picking hay seeds out of your bra.



How is hay stored in a barn? In stacks or in bales? Or both? Which are and are not fun?

We store it on pallets - so it's off the ground, allows circulation and prevents damp. We stack them in alternating rows for strength. You'll need about three -four bales a week for a horse or cow, so for one horse alone you'd be looking at about 150 bales a year. Times that by how many horses or cattle you have - assuming of course that you're feeding all year round, if your animals are out then you'll only be feeding them for half the year.



On a summer day when the hay is freshly cut and stacked it is irressistable.
But how about in October when it's been sitting around for a few months?
How about the rainy days of late winter and early spring when the hay is rather old and musty?


It's much of a muchness, if the hay is cut and dried properly and stored properly then it shouldn't go musty at all.


And, seriously, if you were 12 years old goofing off in the loft of a barn and you decide to come down and you can chose between the rung ladder* or jumping into a couple of bales of hay, you'd choose to jump, wouldn't you? I would.

I wouldn't, but then I was brought up to know what can happen when you have that sort of accident. That said, for some kids it's always a temptation, and nothing you say or do can make any difference.


* Do those rung ladders built into a wall or post have a name? I might as well ask that.

We call them 'ladders' - very technical, I know. :)

ClareGreen
09-17-2012, 04:53 PM
Here's the trouble passage. This takes place in late february or early March in California.

Upon hearing the rain stop, Nimi jumped over the edge of the hayloft onto the hay bales below. After a damp winter the hay bales had settled a bit. Rather than the soft landing she had expected, Nimi landed with a thud that rattled her teeth. She wasn’t hurt but she would have to try to remember that the season for jumping onto hay bales was probably over.

The point of hay is to feed the animals over winter, I thought. By the time it gets to late February or early March, should there be much left? And California's big - is there much of a winter where your story is set?

Hay here in the UK is usually cut around May (depending on the weather). Historically hand-cut it would be left on the field to dry, then slung onto a wagon loose for taking back to wherever it was to be stored; over the last couple of centuries, machinery has taken over. Before machinery, the only bales would have been for transport to somewhere else. Hay cut on the farm would usually be handled without baling.

Grandma tells of her father being absolutely furious when she and her brothers were caught bouncing on a canvas sheet that was part of one of the farm machines. :)

If you're actually interested, I heartily recommend the May episode of the Victorian Farm, available somewhere on YouTube; the appropriate episode of Tales of the Green Valley (or maybe 'from', my memory is going) will show you how it was done before that. Those shows were absolutely brilliant.

Straw is a different matter, and a different substance.

WeaselFire
09-17-2012, 09:18 PM
Here's the trouble passage. This takes place in late february or early March in California.

Upon hearing the rain stop, Nimi jumped over the edge of the hayloft onto the hay bales below. After a damp winter the hay bales had settled a bit. Rather than the soft landing she had expected, Nimi landed with a thud that rattled her teeth. She wasn’t hurt but she would have to try to remember that the season for jumping onto hay bales was probably over.

Replace hay bales with pile of hay. Fixed. :)

Jeff

PorterStarrByrd
09-17-2012, 09:39 PM
a few thoughts on hay ..

It is stored, kept as dry as possible, not only through winter but until the grass is up and nutritional in the spring (early grass is not that great)

In the old day it was stored in the loft loose (never heard of hand baling as that would be more trouble that it is worth). That wasn't always evenly 'packed' and could lead to dropping far enough into it that you couldn't get out, sometimes resulting in death.

Loose hay is generally, from broken bales etc, is gereally forked into the feeding rack quickly so that it doesn't get ruined by excessive walking and is less likely to contribute to a fire.

Wet hay is gotten out of the barn as quickly as possible as the drying process creates enough heat to cause spontaneous combustion, particulary wet bales.

and yes, it is itchy as hell to play in. Now ... jumping into the hay never gets old :)

woozy
09-17-2012, 10:24 PM
Thanks for the answers! Great job.

My farm is a single family run farm in 1907 on the Monterey Coast between Carmel and Point Lobos. Winters are mild but there are rains and the grass dies out.

I think I've got enough to fix this and I don't think my barn will be as high or as dangerous shaldna's. I imagined it having a dirt floor but if keeping things dry is important would it be wooden? Would they use pallets in 1907? I imagine they would. It actually doesn't matter as I won't go into that much detail, but I like to know and understand and visualize things when I write.

So "hand baled" is an oxymoron is it? Would they have machine baled in 1907?

Out of curiosity what is the difference between straw and hay? and as stew has an alternative meaning can you have "a straw of hay"? A paragraph later I wrote "Whiskey landed with a loud WHOOMPH onto a bale of somewhat stale hay. Musty dust and straw flew about." I take it calling it straw is wrong. Just for my curiosity would saying "dust and straws flew about" be technically correct? And no, I have no writing need to know this. I'm just curious.

Thank you all for the answers. If you have anything to tell me about what life on a family run farm in 1907 would be like (how many farm hands, how would the owners interact with the hands, what are meal times like, how'd they feel about my MC, who is an 11-year old kid of an impressionist paint who lives right next door, always hanging around and playing and goofing off on their farm, etc.) let me know. But they aren't urgent. Just for fun and further "ingestion"

Lehcarjt
09-17-2012, 11:03 PM
My farm is a single family run farm in 1907 on the Monterey Coast between Carmel and Point Lobos. Winters are mild but there are rains and the grass dies out.

I'm wondering what the hay is for and if they are growing it locally. I may be way off base here, but I don't think hay is grown along the coast. The area you have pointed out is known for pine and cyprus trees, not the leveled out, sunshine weather needed to grow hay. The crops today are all lettuce, artichokes, strawberries etc - cool weather because of the fog (and even that is further north than Caramel (Seaside, etc.). Cattle and Hay were all farther East.

Caramel Valley might be a good place for the farm though, which isn't that far away from the area you are describing.

WildScribe
09-17-2012, 11:16 PM
I'm wondering what the hay is for and if they are growing it locally. I may be way off base here, but I don't think hay is grown along the coast. The area you have pointed out is known for pine and cyprus trees, not the leveled out, sunshine weather needed to grow hay. The crops today are all lettuce, artichokes, strawberries etc - cool weather because of the fog (and even that is further north than Caramel (Seaside, etc.). Cattle and Hay were all farther East.

Caramel Valley might be a good place for the farm though, which isn't that far away from the area you are describing.

Not out near the coast, no. But there is a bit of hay production a little inland (think Gilroy, Hollister, etc.) Possibly also in the Salinas area, but I say away from there, mostly, so I'm not sure. Carmel (not Caramel ;) ), Seaside, and Monterey, etc. are damp, and she's correct about the crops there.

FluffBunny
09-17-2012, 11:35 PM
As with much in life, it depends. :) Eons ago, when I was growing up, we'd jump into loose hay, but not much down on bales. The barn was large, wooden with a wooden floor and the bales were stacked high enough, there wasn't much opportunity to jump down on them if the thought had even occurred to us.

Loose hay was brought in at the end of the season--not enough to be worth the expense of bringing in someone with a baling rig--and piled up on the floor. That was perfect for jumping into after checking to make sure none of the bazillion barn cats were nesting in it. ;)

As far as dampness goes: yes, moisture is bad for hay. We spread rock salt moderately thickly between layers of bales to cut down on moisture.

woozy
09-17-2012, 11:42 PM
True, but there were and still are ranches there (mostly horse ranches), cattle ranches further down the coast, and there was an artichoke farm right by the Carmel river (which is the secret real location of my fictional place).

I'm thinking this is mostly a sheep ranch and if they had to import their hay that'd be fine. (But that does raise the question would they buy it in bulk so there would be enough to jump in or would they buy it month by month. I assume the former because they'd buy it in the hay season, wouldn't they?)
(Actually the buying of and unloading of hay could make a good scene. I bet a kid would have loved to watch the hay being unloaded.)


I don't know if a sheep ranch would have to have sheep alone or if they could also have chickens (maybe just for their own eggs and consumption) and/or pigs.

Okay, if you want to lambast this city slicker for being utterly ingnorant and not knowing the difference between a farm and a ranch, that'd be okay but please do so in a kind and polite manner.

I'm a bit loathe to move it to Carmel Valley as the Central coast is the land I love. But I could. If I had to. I do want there to be a cave, a beach and tidepools on the ranch.

Actually if a ranch on the Carmel coast is impossible, I might rather change it from a ranch than to change its location. Might.

The fictional place in question is not always a ranch in my story. It is/will be/has been: an ohlone fishing village, a rancho given to retired missionary soldier, a ranch, a hippy commune, a revitalized organic sheep farm, an abandoned area, a writer's retreat, maybe in 2058 it will be a college campus but maybe not. But during the main framework of the story its a sheep ranch in 1907.

anguswalker
09-17-2012, 11:52 PM
Straw consists of the stalks of a feed crop such as barley or wheat and is essentially a waste product from the harvesting of the grain. It is used for bedding not feeding and is much coarser and rougher than hay. Hay is made from grass (plus whatever wild flowers are growing in the meadow) so the stalks are much finer than the stalks of wheat or barley, which is what straw consists of. Hay should ideally be harvested just before the grass seeds, when the stalks still have the maximum nutrition in them. Once the plant seeds (whether grass or wheat) the stalks become harder and less nutritious.

I would certainly take issue with the adjective 'musty' being applied to hay. Musty hay is unusable and would be chucked out. Hay smells sweet and fragrant always. If it doesn't it's worthless. Straw can get a little musty as farmers generally take less care with its storage since the stock aren't going to eat it. However even with straw, if it smells musty there's something a bit lackadaisical about the farmer.

woozy
09-18-2012, 12:00 AM
Straw consists of the stalks of a feed crop such as barley or wheat and is essentially a waste product from the harvesting of the grain. It is used for bedding not feeding and is much coarser and rougher than hay.
Thank you!
And hence, the scarecrow in the Oz books would have been stuffed with straw. (In the Tin Woodman of Oz he briefly had to have been stuffed with hay after an accidental strawectomy and he complained it was undignified and lumpy. If always wondered about it since.



I would certainly take issue with the adjective 'musty' being applied to hay. Musty hay is unusable and would be chucked out. Hay smells sweet and fragrant always. If it doesn't it's worthless. Straw can get a little musty as farmers generally take less care with its storage since the stock aren't going to eat it. However even with straw, if it smells musty there's something a bit lackadaisical about the farmer.
Noted and it will be changed! So would they store *straw* in a barn and would kids jump in it? Just curious.

anguswalker
09-18-2012, 12:11 AM
You can store straw in a barn if you have the space, but the hay would take priority. Straw is pretty much always baled and has been since the start of mechanised harvesting (before that the cut crop was dried and then threshed in stooks) whereas hay for consumption on the farm would not be baled, as there's no point. It would just be forked onto a waggon once dry and from there piled into the barn to keep until needed. If you didn't have barn space you would make a hay rick, covered with a tarpaulin. There's a scene in Far From the Madding Crowd where Gabriel Oak and Bathsheba Everdene save a hayrick during a storm (if the hay got wet in winter it would never dry out again and would soon become useless).

So if straw is stored in a barn it is stacked as bales, which actually make for excellent climbing/jumping structures (about which farmers care less than the hay). Generally there's some loose straw heaped at the bottom of the wall of bales, making for exciting (if scratchy) jumping opportunities.

shakeysix
09-18-2012, 12:15 AM
jumping into loose hay was fun back in 1960. jumping into hay bales would be foolish. hay bales are good for hide and seek. milo is also fun to jump in, if you have enough of it. making out in a wheat truck full of freshly cut wheat used to be fun too. then they started treating the wheat with insecticides and herbicides.--s6 "many lovely ingenious things are gone ..."--wb yeats

Lehcarjt
09-18-2012, 12:19 AM
Not out near the coast, no. But there is a bit of hay production a little inland (think Gilroy, Hollister, etc.) Possibly also in the Salinas area, but I say away from there, mostly, so I'm not sure.
Gilroy had hay. If Hollister had any, they didn't have much (Lettuce and other greens are the big crops now. I'd think it too cool for hay). I don't know about Salinas, but they grow cooler crops now, so I'd think hay wouldn't be a very large crop. Morgan Hill had hay, but by 1907 the fruit trees were taking over (ditto for San Jose). The best place I can think of to find answers to a lot of this is the San Jose Historical Museum (the living one). They have a ton of info on bay area farming. I'd bet they have stuff on the Monterey Peninsula as well.


Carmel (not Caramel ;) ), Seaside, and Monterey, etc. are damp, and she's correct about the crops there. Total Freudian slip as I've spent the last week (I'm on batch five) trying to perfect a rather difficult Caramel recipe!

On other topics.... They'd buy the hay in bulk once a year - when prices are best. The area had a railroad, so it's possible hay came via it (although I don't know that for sure).

My primary research area was 1880's agriculture (for the South San Jose to Gilroy area and Santa Cruz Mountains) although I read a lot of books that covered a broader time period (because I like history and live locally). I never once ran into a sheep farm. My guess there weren't many because the land itself is so fertile that putting animals on it is less cost effective. Especially right next a river. Even the cattle were kept up in the hills rather than valleys. Was the farm your basing your fictional place on (which is honestly the best way to do something like this. It's exactly what I did for my 1880 orchard farm) a sheep farm?

KellyAssauer
09-18-2012, 12:20 AM
So "hand baled" is an oxymoron is it? Would they have machine baled in 1907?

It's not as much of an oxymoron as you think!

In 1907 there wasn't a 'baler' that you ran along behind the tractor. Balers then were wooden, stand-alone contraptions. You had to get the hay to the baler, and then connect the baler to an engine of some sort, and then stand there and 'hand feed' the baler the hay!

You should also note (and wow, this could really help) that the first wooden 'stand-alone' balers did not use twine. They used wire! They ran two pieces of wire around the formed hay bale, just like the twine (or string) balers would.

The problem with these wire balers is that sometimes... a small bit of wire would fall with the loose hay into the manger and a cow might eat it -seriously- so not kidding! A bit of wire in a cow's tummy can make a cow terribly sick for days... and it did.

Once the 'new' string balers became available (about this same time period!) Farmers abandoned the wire balers in a hurry. You can still find wooden wire balers on old farms, where you can't find the string baler. The reason is that the farmer would keep the 'relatively new' wire baler around in case the string machine would fail... except they didn't.

Not long afterwards the string balers got wheels, and soon all the baling was done in the field... leaving the old time wire baler forgotten and collecting dust - and hay barns are a great place for dust.

Sooooo... you could 'date' your piece right there. She jumps and thumps a foot on the bale wire... and bingo, it's the first ten years of 1900.

*wow, never thought my volunteering for the local museum would ever come in this handy! We have a 1907 wire-baler!*

=)

Al Stevens
09-18-2012, 12:29 AM
I thought from the subject line that this thread would be about something else. Takes me back.

We used to play in the haystacks in the field. You can hide in a haystack.

woozy
09-18-2012, 12:43 AM
Was the farm your basing your fictional place on (which is honestly the best way to do something like this. It's exactly what I did for my 1880 orchard farm) a sheep farm?

Don't think so. I *think* it was an artichoke farm. It apparently "swampland" when the italian imigrant family bought it around the turn of the century and was considered unlikely to succeed. I *think* I heard it had sheep at one time. But I might have heard wrong. I just like sheep!

There's a ranch (my mother knows the name of it but I've forgotten) that has horses which I see as I drive by. Of course it could have been something entirely different before the 50s.) This fictional ranch can be large, (It was originally a land grant from Spain in the late 1700s; I figure much of the land would have been sold off by 1907 but I'm not sure just how much or when yet), so the sheep could have been kept mostly away from the beach. I don't like, but can live with, the coast road/highway 1 going through the area.

Lehcarjt
09-18-2012, 01:59 AM
Don't think so. I *think* it was an artichoke farm. It apparently "swampland" when the italian imigrant family bought it around the turn of the century and was considered unlikely to succeed. I *think* I heard it had sheep at one time. But I might have heard wrong. I just like sheep! Artichokes are VERY common to the entire area (yum!).


There's a ranch (my mother knows the name of it but I've forgotten) that has horses which I see as I drive by. Of course it could have been something entirely different before the 50s.) Land usage has changed so much in coastal CA in the last 100 years that I don't think you want to assume a current horse ranch makes for a good place for a historical sheep ranch. Farmers were there to make money and they'd put in the best crop that would make them the most profit. Sadly, crops today don't bring in nearly as much as houses and (sometimes, but not always) stables. That wasn't true in 1907 though.

Really, what you want to do is find a real historical sheep ranch and build your fictional one wherever it is. Or have your farmers raise a real local crop (artichokes, etc.)


This fictional ranch can be large, (It was originally a land grant from Spain in the late 1700s; I figure much of the land would have been sold off by 1907 but I'm not sure just how much or when yet) Everything would have been sold off by (or cheated away from) the Californios long before 1907.


So the sheep could have been kept mostly away from the beach. I don't like, but can live with, the coast road/highway 1 going through the area. I'm not clear on what you are saying here. Do you mean the main thoroughfare for the area goes across your land? I hadn't thought of that, but it could be a problem. I tend to think of highway 1 south of Carmel as being rocky and mountainous, but that's just a vague impression.

woozy
09-18-2012, 02:53 AM
Really, what you want to do is find a real historical sheep ranch and build your fictional one wherever it is. Or have your farmers raise a real local crop (artichokes, etc.)

Not quite. What I want to do is find out what people in the area in 1907 would have been doing and change it from a sheep ranch to that. :) (right now, the location is more important than what they did. Although that *could* change.)

Stupid question, but why have barns if you don't have livestock? I gues for storage of equipment and machines. But if they never had livestock why build them in barn shapes? (There are lots of old barns in the area I have in mind.)


Everything would have been sold off by (or cheated away from) the Californios long before 1907.

I haven't worked out the details for that part of the book yet. But I will. What's left by 1907 is a few hundred acres. Or do I mean a few score of acres. Or a few acres. I think I mean about a hundred acres but I'll have to look up conversion tables.


I tend to think of highway 1 south of Carmel as being rocky and mountainous, but that's just a vague impression.
It varies and it varies very quickly. For the most part past Point Lobos to Big Sur it is rocky and hilly but there are still some level grazing lands that were used for farming. Sobranes point for example. At Big Sur it gets very mountainous as the Santa Lucia mountain range reaches the sea there. Around the area I'm looking at, well, look at the map (http://maps.google.com/maps?q=carmel+river&hl=en&ll=36.525639,-121.921721&spn=0.045453,0.077333&sll=36.53695,-121.912022&sspn=0.045446,0.077333&t=h&radius=2.58&hq=carmel+river&z=14).



Do you mean the main thoroughfare for the area goes across your land? I hadn't thought of that, but it could be a problem.
As my place is fictional I'm probably worrying too much, but hiway one usually goes with the rocks and beach on the right. And the hills on the left. You said the cattle on the coast would have been kept to the higher lands. Those in general are on the other side of the road from the beach. The road fo the most part "pinches" the rocks, cliffs, and beaches to tightly to include good farmland On that side of the road. However there are nice and ample fields by the bay school and where "Carmel Meadows" was built in the 70's, as well as the artichoke farm as an exception.

woozy
09-18-2012, 03:59 AM
Troubled passages rewritten:

The rain had stopped and with the inability of cats to learn acrobatics, Nimi decided it was time find something else to do. She slipped over the edge of the hayloft to fall into the pile of hay below. Her landing was a little harder than she expected. The pile must have gotten lower since the last time she had played in it. She was trying to get her breath back when a very cute but very solid striped gray cat landed directly on her chest knocking whatever wind she had left out of her.
Nimi put her hand up to cover her face and shrieked, “NO! No! Don’t you dare!” Whiskey put both front paws over the edge and leaned forward. He stumbled more than jumped out of the loft. Nimi quickly rolled out of the way and sixteen pounds of Whiskey landed with a loud WHOOMPH beside her raising up a cloud of dust and flecks of hay. Whiskey looked around with a confused look on his face as though he were asking Nimi “What did you make me do that for?”


It's okay for barns and hay to be dusty, isn't it?

Lehcarjt
09-18-2012, 04:11 AM
Are the characters cats? If yes, I think that changes quite a few things when it comes to falling into the hay and the need for complete historical accuracy. I'd assumed (to my own error) that this was adult fiction.

But my DD is a HUGE Warriors fan... She'll read anything about cats.

Lehcarjt
09-18-2012, 05:21 AM
I ran the scenario by my hubby at dinner. He pointed out that while beef cattle or sheep may not work for a livestock farm in that area, a dairy would be perfect. The northern Calif coast (so north of S.F.) is famous for it's dairy production. It doesn't seem farfetched that the Monterey area would have one (or more) as well.

Rachel

woozy
09-18-2012, 05:27 AM
I'd assumed (to my own error) that this was adult fiction.

*HARDLY* to your own error! Nimi is completely human!

If she were a cat and I failed to mention it, well, that'd make this whole discussion wasted and I'd be a bit of an idiot, wouldn't I.

Nimi, my MC-- !fully human!-- is playing in the barn with the cats and I thought it'd be funny if she jumps, gets a winded, has a cat land on her before she gets a chance to get her breath back, looks up just in time to see another *HUGE* cat looking over to jump, shrieks, ducks out of the way, the huge cat land with a whump, and then stares and Nimi as though it were all her fault.

Well, *I* thought it'd be funny.

My novel is for children probably age 12 or older. That isn't relevant but, yes, my characters, other than the odd cat, dog, sheep, sea otter here and there, are all human beings. Except for the indian gods and the otter-selkies and the ghosts and the fog spirits and the ..... But those are other issues.

Elaine Margarett
09-18-2012, 05:58 AM
I remember jumping on stacked bales of hay and having one leg (just one) slip down between two bales and getting stuck. Not comfortable and not particularly fun.

Barns and hay are always dusty, comes with the territory and is part of their charm. <g> Dust motes in the sun, animal dander, ahhh...

As to why have barns, you're correct (kind of) for equiment storage, although in Maryland they're more often called equipment sheds (even if they're large buildings).

Barns are used to store hay. Even if there are no animals to feed, hay is a cash crop grown for resale. Also tobacco must be dried in barns (or tobacco sheds).

woozy
09-18-2012, 06:01 AM
A dairy farm is not a bad idea and there was a diary farm (as well as a whaling station) at point lobos. As well as Andrew Molera park in Big Sur. The farm at Sobranes Pt. was probably a diary farm. I may need to do research. Plus I can always turn it into a sheep form in the 70's for an idealistic but unsuccessful stint when my fictional place gets bought by a couple with more dreams than sense.

Of course in the Rancho days people would do their own substitence farming.

Lehcarjt
09-18-2012, 06:13 PM
*HARDLY* to your own error! Nimi is completely human!

Too funny. That's what I get from making assumptions from a single paragraph. There was just something about the name Nimi and all the cats in the barn that made me think feline. I hope I didn't offend you. I'm sure it's an impossible mistake to make when the story is ready from page one!

Rachel

woozy
09-18-2012, 08:54 PM
Too funny. That's what I get from making assumptions from a single paragraph. There was just something about the name Nimi and all the cats in the barn that made me think feline. I hope I didn't offend you. I'm sure it's an impossible mistake to make when the story is ready from page one!

Rachel
I shouldn't have mentioned the cats in my quote because they weren't important to the discussion of the hay but I that they were funny and I couldn't resist.

Nimi is an unusual human name that I made up. Her actual name is Mneme. But I figured someone with the name of Mneme would get tired of explaining "It's spelled with an M but its pronounced with an N" so she'd start thinking of herself as having the nickname Nimi.

What I meant by "HARDLY" was in response to your claiming your assumption (that I was talking about humans) was "surely" an error on your part. If I had been talking about cats then the error would have been *entirely* on *my* part for not bothering to mention that somewhat important detail.

backslashbaby
09-18-2012, 11:36 PM
We have fields that are used for hay, and so we get those pretty jellyroll bundles that look so cute on the hills. I played on them as a kid, and let me tell you some of the most ginormous spiders you've ever seen (in the subtropics, lol) live in those things!

Oh, that was so awful the day I came across those spiders very close-up! I'll never forget it.

No, hay is NOT fun! :D And I don't even mind spiders a bit.

Xenith
09-19-2012, 06:08 PM
The point of hay is to feed the animals over winter, I thought. By the time it gets to late February or early March, should there be much left? And California's big - is there much of a winter where your story is set?

In Australia, at least the bit I'm familiar with, it's used for summer feeding especially during droughts.

(Our backyard lawnmowers were hand fed in summer & winter, from a large round bale kept on a sheet of plastic behind the garage.)

Thump
09-19-2012, 06:56 PM
Anecdote:

When we were kids, we rented a small cottage that belonged to a farm. There were 5 kids in the farm and my sister went to play with them. They were jumping on the hay from a loft in the barn. My sister has always had very bad eyesight and she refused to wear her glasses out of vanity.
She completely missed the hay and spent the summer in a cast.

Needless to say, she prefers the city and wears contacts now...

Canotila
09-20-2012, 09:56 AM
My uncle makes his secondary income mowing and baling hay for folks. One of the things I remember as a kid is how awesome the barn smelled all the time. On Christmas and Easter we loved going out to the barn to lounge in the hay. It was warm and smelled sweet and nice, vs. outside which was mucky, muddy and freezing cold. We loved playing in it too, but got in major trouble if we were caught. And yeah, done that leg sinking up to the hip between bales thing.

We liked playing in the hay in winter though. The barn is cozy and smells good, and you're all bundled so you don't get scratched. It's hard to get all the pieces off so the grownups don't know you've been in it though. At my other uncle's house we had to worry about rattlesnakes in the bales during the summer. In winter they den up with their relatives so we never worried about them at that point.

StephanieFox
09-21-2012, 06:10 AM
I do straw bale gardening where you plant veggies in bales of straw. They slowly become compost and fall apart. When I buy the new bales in the spring, they are hard and heavy, about 50 or so pounds. They are scratchy, too. As they become compost they become quite soft but you couldn't jump on them. They're kind of wet and, well, compost-y.

Perhaps you are thinking of hay stacks. I never saw those in the USA.

GeorgeK
09-24-2012, 02:07 AM
If it was at all "how soggy or stale" then it would be time to clear it out onto the dung heap I'm afraid. Hay has to be kept bone dry or it will start growing a variety of moulds that would probably be fatal to livestock.
.
That depends on the livestock but yes. Cattle are more tolerant than sheep when it comes to moldy hay but it's not a good thing to test.


You can tell in an instant if you walk into a haybarn where the hay has got damp and is going mouldy and no self-respecting farmer would let that happen. So if the damp winter has led to the hay getting damp then it's no hay at all, rather than "soggy" or "stale" hay. I'm afraid that the concept of haybales getting harder as the season progresses doesn't make much sense to me either. If stored properly they just get a little drier, so actually less dense (if even more scratchy). If not stored properly then, as I say, they get thrown away.
.

Right, and actually the whole concept of jumping into hay doesn't make sense with most modern farming. To jump into hay, you need a haystack. Not baled hay. A haystack is the product of manual labor, using a sickle bar mower or scithe and a pitchfork, not modern machinery. I'd want the characters to be luddites of some variety for this to be believable that they even have a haystack



There is a possible alternative though. Hay isn't always baled for storage but can be packed in a 'rick' from which feed is taken as required.
.creep feeders here


Over the season inevitably the pile gets lower and lower until eventually there is too little left to provide a good cushion over the hard ground beneath. In those circumstances jumping into it can be a less pleasurable experience than expected!

Be aware though of the pattern of hay use (and so the reduction of the hay in storage) over the course of the year, as it is all shifted a bit later in the year than people often think. Livestock can't get by on pasture grass until it is growing strongly, quite late in the spring and the hay has to last until then. In Scotland for instance the "hungry gap" when foodstuffs in storage are running out and the pasture grass hasn't started growing strongly enough yet is more likely to be April than March- often in fact into May.
Here in Kentucky, the sheep are into the pastures and ignoring stored hay in March

BenPanced
09-24-2012, 03:24 AM
Anecdote:

When we were kids, we rented a small cottage that belonged to a farm. There were 5 kids in the farm and my sister went to play with them. They were jumping on the hay from a loft in the barn. My sister has always had very bad eyesight and she refused to wear her glasses out of vanity.
She completely missed the hay and spent the summer in a cast.

Needless to say, she prefers the city and wears contacts now...
The first time I jumped into hay is how I found out I'm allergic to the stuff. The back of my neck broke out in hives.

woozy
09-24-2012, 03:29 AM
Right, and actually the whole concept of jumping into hay doesn't make sense with most modern farming. To jump into hay, you need a haystack. Not baled hay. A haystack is the product of manual labor, using a sickle bar mower or scithe and a pitchfork, not modern machinery. I'd want the characters to be luddites of some variety for this to be believable that they even have a haystack

Well, I did mention my novel takes place at the turn of the 20th century.

The kids I knew who liked to jump in stacked hay (and to climb on top of baled hay) did so at small scale and subsistance farming level in Nova Scotia. One family had been farming the land for over 100 years and the other families were all back to the earth movementers. Twenty years later and none of them are around any more.

Anyway, issue solved. The hay is stacked and perfectly well kept over the winter.

GeorgeK
09-26-2012, 04:15 PM
Well, I did mention my novel takes place at the turn of the 20th century.

The kids I knew who liked to jump in stacked hay (and to climb on top of baled hay) did so at small scale and subsistance farming level in Nova Scotia. One family had been farming the land for over 100 years and the other families were all back to the earth movementers. Twenty years later and none of them are around any more.

Anyway, issue solved. The hay is stacked and perfectly well kept over the winter.

In that case they also have to scour the stack before jumping to make sure someone didn't leave the pitchfork in the haystack. Death by impalement was not an unheard of consequence.

Goldenleaves
09-27-2012, 02:03 PM
Hay. Looks like it should be fun.Smells like it should be fun. Nasty pokey stuff.

Oh yes, I remember.

WriterDude
09-28-2012, 02:57 AM
I recall straw jumps from childhood. The older kids would break up the bales and pile the straw in a deep ditch or next to a low building. We had garages on the edge of the housing estate that backed on to the fields. It was especially fun where there was a rope swing above a gully and you could swing right out before falling into the hay.

Happy days.

hillcountryannie
10-17-2012, 06:13 AM
Itchy! Oh, and the hay gets everywhere. Just loading a few bales and it will get in my pockets.

gam67
11-22-2012, 08:43 PM
In about the time frame you are talking about almost every farm would have a barn, regardless of the type of farm, because they would have working horses..these are the years before every farm had a tractor...horses were used to plow, pull wagons etc..If the farmer wasn't rich he would still be using loose hay in a hay loft, then for feeding would pull a wagon up under the doors and fork hay out and fill the wagon...I can not imagine a reason why loose hay would be just left on the ground...Perhaps you could have them jump into a wagon and land in a area it wasn't thick? That would explain the jolt..
as farming progressed they might have a baler...they hay would be cut the loaded into a wagon, hauled to the baler and baled...this baler ran off of a stationary enginre or a tractor driven by a wide belt, then bales hauled to the barn and stacked, these bales would more often than not be stored in that very same hay loft that used to hold loose hay..

King Neptune
11-23-2012, 08:50 PM
I don't *really* need to know the answer to this and this could diverge into sillines but:

Every farm kid I ever knew (all *five* of them!! woo! I'm such a worldly guy!) *loved* jumping in hay. Especially jumping from a loft in a barn down into a pile. Now I remember it as stacks of newly hand baled hay. But memory is a self-editing (or so the theory goes).

So, I wrote a bit about a girl jumping out of a loft onto her back onto a pile of hay bales. But as it was february the hay bales have condensed and settled and she was a bit jolted when landed.

So I get a critique: "Why would a girl who grew up on a farm expect hay bales to be soft. Machine bales are hard."

So questions. Assume hand-baled ,not machine baled, as my WIP is historical and not modern:

Is jumping in hay fun?

Jumping into loose hay is fun. Jumping onto a pile of bales is not fun.



How is hay stored in a barn? In stacks or in bales? Or both? Which are and are not fun? Is it more fun to jump onto your feet or your back in each instance?

Hay is mostly baled. but there is often a pile of loose hay.


For how long is still fun to jump in hay?

uNTIL IT GETS BALED.

[QUOTE]On a summer day when the hay is freshly cut and stacked it is irressistable.

Yes, it would be irrestible.


But how about in October when it's been sitting around for a few months?


There probably wouldn't be much loose hay in October, and what there was would be dirty.

[QUOTE]How about the rainy days of late winter and early spring when the hay is rather old and musty?
"No go"? Or: "well, it's better in summer but you take what you can get"?
And, seriously, if you were 12 years old goofing off in the loft of a barn and you decide to come down and you can chose between the rung ladder* or jumping into a couple of bales of hay, you'd choose to jump, wouldn't you? I would.
QUOTE]
I don't know about anyone else, but I would rather roll in the hay with a girl than jump onto a hay bale any time of the year.