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.
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!
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.