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I don't have a real barn yet on my farm. Still hope to have a nice old-fashioned barn with a hay-mow for loose hay someday, but in the meantime I've had to turn to very traditional methods of stacking my scythe cut hay and straw outdoors. I make two types of haystacks here at my farm:
 1. A Romanian-style haystack, which consists of dried hay stacked upon a bed of tree branches, around a very tall, central pole, and stacked very high.
2. A tarp-covered, Pyramid-framed haystack of my own design.

Picture
 1.  The Romanian-style haystack is made by stacking dried grass hay upon a bed of branches (4 pallets would work), around a very tall, central pole, which is braced with a tri-pod, and then the hay is stacked very high. The outside of the stack is then raked with a hayrake, to form a thatched outer shell. A very high and narrow, round shape, works best for this type of haystack. No need for a tarp covering. If formed and raked properly, the outer layer matts down into a very breathable, yet weather-proof shell. Hay stored this way, keeps a long time.

 The disadvantage though, comes when you want to use the hay. As soon as you break the outer shell and remove only some of the hay, the rest of the stack is then vunerable to the weather. Traditionally, all the hay in the whole stack would be hauled away to the barn, or some other form of covered shelter. Another disadvantage is that it has to be constructed in it's entirety at one time. Which means you have to have all your hay ready at one time (which takes a tremendous amount of hay), because the hay itself needs to be shaped and combed to become the "roof". With my Pyramid haystack, you can keep adding hay over time as it's ready, because it's "roof" is a removable tarp.

 If you want to learn about the Romanian style of haystack, there are excellent pictorials at
http://www.hayinart.com/003028.html and

 http://leafpile.com/TravelLog/Romania/Farming/MakingaHaystack/MakingHaystack.htm . The people at Leaf Pile, are also publishing a photobook with essays on the rural life of Northern Transylvania, called "The Color of Hay: the Peasants of the Maramures" . It will be available in October 2010. You can order it at http://colorofhay.com/

A picture is worth a thousand words!

Picture
2. The Pyramid-framed Haystack.

Necessity is the mother of invention. I invented this tarp-covered, pyramid haystack system, after many unsuccessful attempts to store my red clover/timothy/orchard grass hay (very heavy on the red clover) in other types of haystacks. The high red clover content made it difficult to get a good thatched seal on the outer layer of the haystack. The weather was able to penetrate too deeply into the stack, and the clover quickly rotted. Because I didn't have a barn to store loose hay, I needed a haystack that was close to my goose and duck houses, that I could remove hay from as needed, but would still protect the remaining hay, once some of it was removed. So I resorted to eliminating the central pole, raising the base, and covering my haystacks with a tarp. One day I had run out of sapling poles to make a haystack frame, and had to resort to using some salvaged scrap dimensional lumber. I had four warped 2x4's on hand, and since the yard tarps are square, I thought "Why not make a 4-sided pyramid instead of a tripod?" This resulted in a brilliant "Aha!' moment, and the whole structure for the pyramid haystack system suddenly came to mind. I was amazed at the geometric perfection of the proportions of the standard dimensions of the 8 foot 2x4's, 2x2's, and 1x2's, fit together with the 12'x12' yard tarp. It was as if a divine "Golden Ratio" of proportions had clicked into place. To top it off, I later discovered that a fully loaded Pyramid Haystack holds about 1 ton of hay. How neat is that!
  This system is very portable, and quick to set up. When the hay is all used up, it's easy to take down and store in your garage. Over the years however, I've started to leave my stack frames in the same place outdoors, even when empty. To increase the frames longevity, I switched to using 8' Cedar round fenceposts for the 4 uprights, and I set them on flat stones, or pavers, to keep the bottom of the posts from sinking into the ground and rotting.
  Because of the tarp "roof", this type of stack works best piled wide and square. I wish that there was a more ecological material, other than the plastic yard tarps, to use for the covering, but I haven't been able to come up with anything yet. If anyone would like to become involved with this project of finding a more suitable material for these haystack covers, and manufacturing them for scythe users, let me know!

For updated info on how to make my Pyramid haystack frame go to 
http://onescytherevolution.com/1/post/2013/05/the-1sr-pyramid-haystack-update.html
For a video of how I make make hay, see my YouTube video.

Botan Anderson

 


Comments

Brigitte Fortin
05/24/2010 9:38am

I need a hayrake please! Also, thanks for the detailed pics and instructions on making the haystack. Yours is the only place on the web that fits the scale of my farm and my desire to do it without fossil fuel. Please email or call me so I can get the hayrake and maybe give you a call to get some tips on making the stacking frame? 301-293-2716... or give me a number to call you at so I can pick up the charges? Thanks!

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Tiffani Cappello
08/12/2010 10:05am

Great site and You Tube videos - a sincere thanks. We are going to start up our own farm here in OH soon and want to do our labor manually. What a blessing to be able to glean so much useful info from your site.

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05/18/2011 10:42am

I just made one this afternoon with french sizes and material. Your site is a true gold mine. Thanks a lot. from France.

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Botan Anderson
05/18/2011 11:49am

Thanks for your comments! I really appreciate them. I'm glad to hear that people are finding this info useful. Happy mowing!

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Mark Parrish
06/27/2011 8:23am

I'm sorry, I don't have a better suggestion for the roof. However, it does look like you could use shipping pallets 2x2 square and 2 tall (2x2x2) and achieve the same structure as your pyramid frame. If you can get hardwood pallets they should survive any kind of weather pretty well.

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J pittmann
07/10/2011 7:41am

thanks for the advice im going to mow my fields by hand now and its been so handy finding easy to follow advice like this.

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10/29/2011 1:57am

We use used billboard tarps for winterizing our dairy goat barns (open front) to keep the snow out of the front portion. www.billboardtarps.com. You may need to cut them to size for your purpose and add grommets in the corners but they last a very long time, are a lot heavier duty than the standard tarps and are economical too.

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04/30/2012 5:16pm

While I don't expect ever to use the information you have so articulately and understandably given, it mesmerized me and soothed me like a very good meditation. It felt like it went straight to my heart and calmed it. So...you have my "heartfelt" thanks!

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05/14/2012 8:07pm

As for the tarp on the top, you can buy old cotton sheets for very cheap in your local thift stores. You can soak them in raw linseed oil and then let hang outside in dry weather for several weeks to avoid the risk of spontaneous combustion. Then move them inside and let them finish drying for several months before using them on the haystacks. You can stitch several together or use multiple layers for greater protection. The drier you allow the linseed to get, the longer these will last, but linseed oil is definitely mildew food. This could be avoided if you were to add some copper or zinc napthenate to the linseed oil, but these are petroleum sourced. You could maybe treat the inside of the sheet with pure linseed, reserving these preservatives for the exposed side.
Another alternative is to rub "zinc white" into the sheets. This is a paint made from a suspension of zinc oxide in linseed oil. It will dry much faster than regular linseed, and makes a tougher film. The zinc oxide is considered a very benign mildew preventative... and your tarps would all be white, which may save you some explaining about multicolored haystacks!
Hope this helps... I will getting a scythe soon, and look to try making your pyramids myself!

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Arne Boveng
02/07/2013 3:16pm

I have an old photo from 1910 of a cabin in a natural meadow in present day Glacier National Park, from the homesteading era. It has an interesting network of tall poles, in a square grid pattern. Would you be interested in viewing the photo and giving an opinion as to the nature of the poles, in other words were they haying at this site? It is part of a homestead history project with in the park. Thanks.

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Tim
04/22/2013 8:11am

An ecological alternative to the yard tarp that still makes use of the water impermeability of man-made products is billboard vinyls. They're quite a bit bigger than your stacks but can be cut to fit whatever size or shape you want to make your stacks. There's a company I discovered near me that deals exclusively in reusable waste streams of industry and that includes billboard vinyls. I imagine plastic pallets would also provide better air circulation at the bottom of the stack (more like dead bushes) and last infinitely longer (literally!). (c: The company's website is www.repurposedmaterialsinc.com

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Botan Anderson
04/22/2013 12:39pm

Thanks again for your comments. Re-purposing non-biodegradable materials is of course a great idea. I have tried the used billboards as suggested, and unfortunately found them to be too stiff and heavy for my pyramid haystack system. They did not form well to the shape of the stack and were enormously difficult to keep secured on the stack in high winds. Also, plastic pallets sound great for composters. They might be better as a haystack base than branches, for a Romanian style haystack, but don't forget the vertical component. Pallets on the ground by themselves, don't make good bases for haystacks. You need a framework for vertical support, and you would need to pile the hay quite high, for the stack to breathe. Simply piling a mound of hay on pallets and covering them with a tarp will result in moldy hay.

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Micah
04/23/2013 5:09pm

If you were stacking the hay inside would you still want the airflow underneath or would it not be as much of an issue since it is not getting rained on? Would pallets be sufficient for indoor stacking?

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Botan Anderson
04/23/2013 6:13pm

Hi Micah - If by inside, you mean on a dirt floor in a pole barn, I'd say yes pile the hay on pallets. You'll need some vertical support too, so maybe in a corner or stall. You don't want the hay to be wicking up any dampness from the floor.

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Dermot Breen
07/01/2013 5:42am

Thanks for sharing your genius idea the Pyramid-framed Haystack. We built 2 of these for ricking hay during winter (2012-13). Last year was a bad year weatherwise in the UK & this Spring was grim too. We successfully store hay outdoors for this whole period using this method. We also tried wooden pallets on car tyres but this was nowhere near as effective. So we've started this years hay cut with scythes and I'm building 3 extra pyamid-framed hay ricks. In the meantime I also dream of acquiring a barn. Once again many thanks.

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Leanne
10/27/2013 11:45am

I have 100 acres and my hay equipment being held hostage ...long story. This is a life saver , however our weather has turned colder so I'm going to try and salvage what I can using the storage of my indoor riding arena and salt as a curing method

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Michael Simonds
06/24/2014 1:53pm

I currently use the plastic drawstring type tarps too..but I'm looking at canvas drawsting tarps and possibly making them into oilcloth , a little pricey , but more natural and will last a lot longer.

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Nick Segner
06/30/2014 11:56am

Great info! I've got some barn space - once dried can my freshly cut hay be stacked in any sort of pile on pallets and maybe a tarp underneath?

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