Dick Hunt's Blog

November 5, 2011

A Long Drag and a Short Turn

Filed under: Current — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 5:05 pm

A Long Drag and a Short Turn.
by Dick Hunt,November 4th 2011.
While Ruth and I were still ranching in Alberta in partnership with my eldest brother Wilf and his wife Alyce, we harvested as much Hay as possible each year t0 make sure we always had sufficient and to spare for whatever the weather threw at us during the winters.  We tried to keep abreast with the times by upgrading  our equipment year by year .  Around 1945, we purchased a mobile stacker to harvest loose hay. It was called a “Jayhawk Stacker”. It consisted of  a steel frame, with a 12 foot wide section at the front with a ten foot wooden tooth every 8 inches to pick up the “Bunched Hay” around the field and bring it to the location of the stack to be built in that area.  The frame was supported at the front with wheels and tires  twelve feet apart and twenty feet long coming to a point at the back.  It was powered by a farm tractor with a ball joint mounted at the front of the tractor, the same as the type used by trucks and cars to pull trailers.

The frame which lifted the hay on the wooden teeth  was supported above the main frame on two long  angle iron arms hinged at the back, just in front of the tractor and was supported by a windlass with the lifting  powered by the two wheels and tires at the front. We used a small Case farm tractor to push it and it was a tricky job.  If you wanted to turn to the left you had to first begin by turning the tractor to the right and then follow the front wheels to the position in which you needed to go to pick up the hay and deliver it to the stack.  I broke a number of teeth the  first day  and had to make repairs at night.
I was given the job of running that rig and no-one else wanted the job as it was tough.
The first day, I managed to haul in and lift a ten ton stack of hay, (30 by 40 feet and 30 feet high.  The second day, less broken teeth and two stacks. The third day three stacks which was about our limit.  Moving the equipment from field to field, especially on public roads was difficult.  Not only did I have to keep from impeding traffic, I had a long tow behind me, one day consisting of a hay wagon with sundry equipment on it, but also towing  a couple of horse drawn ten foot wide hay rakes and one day also two horse drawn “Buck Rakes” behind all that.  The whole rig was 120 feet long. The test of my ingenuity was to get the Jayhawk going off the road over a narrow entrance, through a wire gate and at the same time make sure all the load behind me made it into the turn, over the narrow entrance and into the farm yard with more luck than good management but I made it.

On another move,I just had the Jayhawk in front and a hay wagon behind, but the move was 110 miles on side roads and many miles of a gravel surfaced highway. I made the first day by dark to a country town and stayed overnight in a hotel., All service stations were closed, both when I arrived at night and next morning for an early start. Ten miles before I arrived at the next gas pump I ran out of gasoline. No cell phones in those days.  I walked to one farm along the road and although they had gasoline, they refused to sell me any. I started walking  and eventually was able to hitch a ride.  Going back,I had to hire a taxi and borrow a jerry can for the fuel. We learn from our mistakes and I have made my share and then some. That was a long and hungry haul. By the time I left the Ranch for training in Ministry, we had switched to bailing hay and the Jayhawk languished in the farmyard, ending up as scrap iron.

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