November 30, 2003

Haystacks on Trajan’s column.

trajanhd.gifAbout fifty-three years after Jesus Christ lay in the legendary hay manger of Bethlehem, Marcus Ulpius Traianus was born, at the other end of the Roman Empire and the other end of the social spectrum, into the family of a Roman Consul in Spain. At the age of about 45, Trajan succeeded Nerva on the Imperial throne.

Three years later he led Roman legions across the Danube into what is now Romania, to suppress the Dacians. The two Dacian wars were challenging but eventually successful; by 105 AD, Dacia was incorporated as a new province of the Roman Empire. The profits of these campaigns were invested both in infrastructure – roads, bridges, aqueducts and sewers – and in grand urban building projects to glorify the achievements of the conquering Emperor. These included a vast new forum, an enormous basilica, and an equestrian statue perhaps three times as large as the magnificent one which was built later for Marcus Aurelius and still dominates the Capitoline Hill today.

Trajan’s most remarkable monument is a 120-foot tall marble column with a spiral staircase on the inside and a spiral frieze carved on the outside. The carvings are vivid depictions of the Dacian campaigns, a series of stone vignettes showing the way the Romans fought, the food they gathered, and the scenery through which they passed. The column depicts over 2,000 figures, and trees, rivers, boats, walls, and towns, and, most importantly, it depicts haystacks!

Indeed, haystacks appear in the very first spiral, one of the few which would have been visible from the ancient Roman street. The Trajan Project of McMaster University includes intriguing speculation on how much or how little of the frieze would have been visible to Romans of the first century. The Project also supplies excellent outline drawings which make the essential details even more legible than they are in photographs. Our first haystacks, probably the oldest surviving haystacks in world art are shown in Panel B of the first spiral. trajan1b.gif

Unfortunately for our purposes the McMaster project did not select this panel as one of the hundreds which are more thoroughly documented in their black and white slides and commentary. Fortunately, another superb Trajan web-site, Bill Thayer’s Lacus-Curtius pages, as vast as the Empire itself, has a reasonably clear photograph of the first haystack and, equally usefully, has signposts to dozens of other sites which have information which complements the fine McMasterly presentation. Among them is the scholarly Victorian monograph on the column by John Hungerford Pollen, A description of the Trajan Column, London, 1874. Here are some relevant excerpts from Pollen’s text which, thanks to Bill Thayer, is now online in its entirety.

“Though Apollodorus [of Damascus] was the architect and sculptor chosen by the emperor, it is more than probable that much of the outline of these vast undertakings was suggested by Trajan himself.” [Pollen, Introduction]

According to Pollen, the first stacks shown on Spiral 1, are part of the essential supplies needed by the army for their campaigns. From Pollen, I. The Staging of the Expedition:

“Between the guard houses are scene stacks of forage brought to a sharp point, and thatched with reeds or rushes…lapping carefully over each other down to the ground. Besides corn and hay, firewood is piled up in logs…” [Spiral 1B]

These “stacks of forage” had been described in Columella’s De Re Rustica (ii, 18): ‘quicquid siccatum erit, in metas extrui convenient easque in angustissimos vertices exacui.’

Higher up, on the third spiral, other hayricks appear behind defensive palisades, along the banks of the Danube. From Pollen, X . Another Fortified Position:

“Trees are retained within the walls, and tents are distinguishable beyond them. To the left two soldiers carry another heavy beam. Below the main walls an enclosure of palisades set close together with pointed tops to protect meadows and rickyards. Two ricks thatched with rushes are seen over the palisades, and a small pier supported on tripod piles driven into the river is constructed for facilitating the embarcation, and for discharging barge loads of hay and provisions.” [Spiral 3 B]

trajan3b.gif This McMaster drawing illustrates the scene.

The stacks within the town are apparently similar in style to those among the Roman army supplies. Three inferences are possible from this consistency:
(1) there was no regional variation in haystacks between Rome and Dacia;
(2) the town had already been captured and the stacks were constructed by the Roman invaders;
(3) the stacks were generalized carvings done from non-specific instructions. The durability and efficiency of the conical bee-hive-shaped stack design (as in the meules of nineteenth century France) and its widespread geographic incidence support the first inference. But, given the descriptive vitality of so much the frieze, the third inference is less likely than the second one.

Other readers of this note and those more knowledgeable about the frieze itself and its cultural and economic context are encouraged to contribute their own speculations. We should be even more delighted to be given a reference to an earlier image of hay, in western or eastern art, in any medium. For now, the hay on Trajan’s Column must be recognized as the oldest, fully a millennium earlier than the next image on our list.

View Database Records from this Essay

Posted by Alan Ritch at 05:55 PM

November 17, 2003

Hay words.

We are compiling hay dictionary, from Alfalfa to Zacate, a thesaurus of several hundred words, many to be found only in the most arcane crossword puzzles, and among them such lost beauties as these 35:

BRANDRETHA framework of wood for a hay-rick
CARFThe breadth of one cutting in a rick
COCKLETA small cock (of hay, etc.).
COPA conical heap of ... straw or hay. (Chiefly in Kent.)
COPThe moveable frame attached to the front of a wagon carrying hay
CRATCHA rack or crib to hold fodder
CURRACKPanier slung on horses for carrying bulky loads, as hay
DESS, nA heap of hay
DESS, vTo cut (a section of hay) from a stack
DOSSELA wisp of hay or straw to stop up any aperture of a barn
FOGGrass growing after the hay-crop has been taken, aka AFTERMATH
FOTHERA load; a cart-load (of hay, turf, wood, etc.).
HIPPLEA little heap of hay
KEMPLEA Scotch measure of hay, varying in amount
KNITCHA bundle of hay tied together; a sheaf or faggot.
LESPEDEZAA plant used in in the southern US as a hay crop
MATHA mowing; the amount of a crop mowed
MEDKNICHEThe quantity of hay given in reward to the hayward, what he could lift with his middle finger as high as his knee.
[note : hay also = hedge and "hayward" = hedge-guardian (what the hay!)]
PLACK and RICKLESRickles, biggest of all the cocks are run together into placks, shapeless heaps from which hay is carted -- 1871 G. M. HOPKINS Jrnls. & Papers (1959)
POMPLEFodder for oxen used in the north of England in the 14th century
POUT, nA small round stack of hay or straw; = POOK
SCREW(Orkney or Shetland) A small stack of hay
SHIRT, vTo wrap inferior hay with superior hay, "as is done in Paris."
SQUINANTCamel's hay
STACK-GARTHA stack-yard, rick-yard
STADDLEBase of a stack, stack platform, marks left on ground when wet hay has been removed, scars on a face after smallpox(!)
TALLETHay loft
TATEA handful of hay
TATHHay from the manured field close to home
(Microsoft Word kept changing this TATH to THAT!)
TEWTo shake or toss hay (and, with Great, a pretty village)
THEEKTo cover or thatch a rick
THRIPPLEA movable frame to increase the carrying capacity of a hay cart
WATER-SOUCHYCoined by Horace Walpole to describe sodden hay
WUFFLERA kind of hay tedding machine
YAFFLE(Newfoundland dialect) Armful of hay, etc.

And, as if that weren't enough:
This OED quote about hay shatters stereotypes of librarians and of the Times!
1973 Times 9 Mar. 18/2 A quiet girl librarian, on vodka, has fantasy dreams of rolling in the hay in frilly drawers.

And another from Pynchon, under SASHAY, puts hay on our Highway 17 which you probably drove between Keplers and Capitola:
1963 T. PYNCHON V. i. 22 Rachel would gee and haw this MG around Route 17's bloodthirsty curves and cutbacks, sashaying its arrogant butt past hay wagons.

Hay Words Classified

Pieces of hay

| Bale | Bottle | Button | Cant | Carf | Cob | Cock | Cocklet | Coil | Coll, cole | Comel, cumel | Cop | Day math* | Dess, n | Dossel | Fenage | Flake | Fother* | Grip, gripe* | Haycock | Haymow | Hayrick, hay-reek | Haystack | Hipple | Hub | Jag* | Job* | Kemple* | Knitch | Lattermath | Load* | Lock | Mangerful* | Math* | Medkniche* | Mote | Mow | Mowth* | Parcel, passel | Pike | Pitch* | Plack | Pook | Pottle | Pout | Quile | Rack | Rick | Rickle | Ringe | Rip* | Roller | Rowen | Ruck | Screw | Seam* | Shear | Shelf | Stack | Staddle-row | Stall | Stook | Striga | Stump | Swape, sweep, sweepage | Swath* | Swath-width* | Tass, toss | Tate | Tipple | Tod* | Tope* | Tramp-cock, tramp-coll | Tramp-rick, tramp-ruck | Tramped pike | Truss* | Tump | Turning | Wad | Wake | Wallow | Weal | Wisp | Weal | Windle, windling | Windrow* | Yaffle |

*also a specific measure

Kinds of hay and grass

| Aftermath | Alfalfa | Black-grass | Bog hay | Burgundy hay | Camel's hay | Clover | Eatage | Fenugreek | Fog | Hard-hay | Haylage | Herd grass | Holy hay, sainfoin | Lattermath | Lea hay | Lespedeza | Lucerne | Manna | Melilot | Merlin's grass | Mid-ground | Mix-grass | Mowburnt hay | Mullocky hay | New-land hay | Nol tath | Oaten hay, oat hay | Overflown hay | Paspalum | Pea-vine hay | Polygala | Pomple | Quitch-hay | Rafty hay | Red-top | Ret hay | Risp | Rowen hay | Rowet | Rye hay | Sainfoin | Salt hay | Shavegrass | Silage | Slough hay | Soft hay | Sop | Sprait, spreat, spret, sprit | Squinant | Steddle-burnt hay | Stover | Sudan grass | Swale hay | Swamp grass | Swath-balk | Swathe bauk | Sweet rush | Tame hay | That | Tibbin | Timothy | Tore | Tussock grass | Vernal grass | Water-souchy | Water that | Welked grass | Won hay | Zacate |

Hay fields

| Hay-green | Hay-ground | Hay-land | Hay-mead | Hay-meadow | Hayning | Meadow | Rowen | Swath |

Hay architecture: buildings, spaces

| Barn | Barrack | Bavin | Brandreth | Cratch | Crib | Dutch barn | Hack, hatch, heck | Hay-box | Hay-chamber | Hay-house | Hay-hut | Hayloft | Hay-market | Hay-rack | Hay-shed | Hay-tallat | Hay-yard | Heck | Loft | Manger | Mow | Mow-barton | Mow-breast | Mow-floor | Mowhay | Mow-staddle | Mowstead | Picking hole | Pitch-hole | Rack | Stack-garth | Stack-yard | Staddle | Staddle barn | Staddle-stand | Staddle-stead | Tallett | Well |

Hay equipment

| Baler** | Band | Bonnet | Bot-fork | Buck-rake | Cart** | Cop | Currack | Elevator | Fiddle | Foddering cord | Fork** | Gambo | Grapple | Gurry | Harpoon-fork | Hay-baler** | Hay-binder** | Hay-bond | Hay-basket | Hay-boat | Hay-cap | Hay-cart | Hay-carter** | Hay-crome | Hay-crook | Hay-cutter** | Hay-dryer | Hay-fork** | Hay-hook | Hay-knife | Hay-loader** | Haymaker** | Haymaking furnace | Haymaking machine | Hay-mower** | Hay-pitcher** | Hay-press, -presser | Hay-rack | Hay-rake, raker** | Hay-rig, rigging | Hay-scales | Hay-spade | Hay-stacker** | Hay-tedder** | Hay-tier** | Hay-tosser** | Hay-wagon | Hay-wain | Haywire | Heck-board | Loader** | Morfrey | Mower** | Mowing-crook | Pick, pike | Pikel | Pitchfork, pickfork | Pole** | Rake** | Scythe** | Scythe-cradle | Sheppeck, sheppick | Slider | Spean | Stacker** | Stang | Swath-board | Swath-rake | Swath-turner | Tedding-machine | Thripple | Throw-crook | Thumb-band, thumb-rope | Trusser** | Turner** | Turnover rake | Twine | Wagon, wagon | Wain | Wimbel, wimbrel | Wuffler |

**may also be hay work or worker

Hay work and workers

| Cocker | Coil | Coot | Dess | Flack | Haze | Lap | Mow | Mowyer | Pick | Pickman | Pitcher | Pole | Pook | Pout | Quiling | Rick | Row, roo | Ruckle | Sadden | Salt | Shirt | Skail | Skim | Spin | Stang | Strapper | Ted | Tew | Thack, thatch, theek | Tift | Tipple | Top | Toss | Tuck | Turn | Twiner | Windle | Windrow |

Other hay-related words and phrases

| Brustle | Bumpity (de la Mare) | Buttered hay (Shakespeare) | Carry hay in one's horns | Core | Craker | Cut a swath (swagger) | Damp hay (Coleridge) | Harvest | Hashish | Hay-bag (woman) | Hay-bird | Hay-fever | Hay-foot, straw-foot | Hay-jack | Haymaker | Haymakers' jig | Hayride | Hayseed | Haysel | Haysugge (hedge sparrow) | Haytorite (pseudomorphic chalcedony) | Hayward (hedge guardian) | Hay weed (morgan, camomile) | Haywire (confused) | Hit the hay (go to bed) | Indian hay (marijuana) | Make hay (cause confusion) | Make hay (carpe diem) | Mead month (haymaking month) | Mourken (to rot) | Mowburn | Needle in a bottle of hay | Needle in a haystack | Proud (bulge in a stack) | Rafty (damp, musty hay) | Roll in the hay | Sashay (Pynchon) | Screak | Shirt (as is done in Paris) | Staddle (smallpox scar) | Swale, sweale | Swath (troops "mown down") | That ain't hay (worth more than worthless hay) | Welk |

1557 TUSSER 100 Points Husb. xci, With tossing and raking, and setting on cox: The grasse that was grene, is now hay for an ox.

1874 HARDY Far from Madding Crowd xxv, They were already loading hay, the women raking it into cocks, and windrows.
1889 DOUGHTY Friesland Meres viii. 173 Women were windrowing hay, with rakes different to ours.

Posted by Alan Ritch at 01:58 PM

November 06, 2003

Hay in art and literature: an outline of themes.

The Pencil, cover.In the introduction to his remarkable study of that small, humble object, the pencil, the engineering historian Henry Petroski noted that it “is so familiar as to be a virtually invisible part of our general culture and experience…” De Wint.  Haymaking.I am exploring a similar theme, equally hospitable to an eclectic and multidisciplinary approach. My subject, humble hay, has for millennia been a crucial part of human existence, an important catalyst in the transformation of humans from hunters to herders. Unlike other inventions which were part of the origin and dispersal of agriculture, hay was developed without requiring the patient, experimental domestication of specific plants. Unlike the noble grains, grass grew wherever livestock grazed. Cutting, sun-drying and storing herd animals’ native fodder helped save herder and herds from seasonal deprivation, slaughter or migration. The preserved surplus allowed animals and their dependents to survive cyclical duress, or seasons and years of insufficient rainfall or sunshine.

During the last few hundred years, while the content of hay has benefited from selective planting and crop cultivation, its form has been the object of increasingly frequent design innovations, each successfully substituting new efficiencies for traditional labor. From stone tools to metal, from hand tools to machines, first dragged by horses then driven by fossil-fueled horse-power, the artifacts associated with hay-making have changed its shape and its landscape. So hay serves as a mirror reflecting changes in ecology, economics and technology from the Stone Age, through the agricultural and industrial revolutions to the ongoing refinements of our own time.

Limbourg Bros. June detail.Like the pencil, hay is so much a part of our cultural environment that its ubiquity makes it virtually invisible except to those whose livelihood directly depends on it. If the pencil is the most basic tool of artists, hay has been one of their enduring subjects, a persistingly pleasing visual element from Limbourg’s dazzling illuminations to Lichtenstein’s dotted prints. Lichtenstein. Haystack #1 (Yellow).The hayfield is a picturesque arena of communal, seasonal work; the corduroy windrows provide texture and depth to the patchwork of summer fields; and haycocks, stacks and bales of various size and shape, have challenged generations of artists, diverse in style and philosophy, with their subtle sculpture, color and reflectivity. The soft, light-flickering impressionism of the traditional haystack, the more geometric cubism of early bales, and the gigantic, sculpted cylinders of modern, industrial hay, have attracted the aesthetic vision of hundreds of painters and photographers, yielding a specific genre somewhere between landscape and still life. Indeed, the French term for still life -- “nature morte” -- nicely captures the essence of hay art. Dead grass is given artistic life by its astonishingly diverse form, shape, color and representational style. And, if pencil and paper have long been the most basic media of the literate, hay has long been a potent and contradictory subject of literature, for example, as an evocation and environment of love-making and a symbol of death and evanescence.

Gauguin. Haystack near Arles.My continuing review of scholarship in a number of fields suggests that hay’s literary and artistic aspects have been largely neglected or ignored. A delightful exception is the Dutch website -- -- created by Wim Lanphen who focusses more closely on the architectural aspects of hay buildings, but also includes a sampling of art and literature. My own contribution will be an anthology of paintings and photographs, poetry and prose, accompanied by my own thematic essays. I shall quote gratefully from those academics whose more scholarly excursions have not prevented them from seeing the beauty and importance of hay at the sides of the roads they travel. Haymaking, Warwick, 1920s.While the geography, economy and technology of hay will inform these pieces, as will my own childhood memories of horse-drawn haymaking in the English Midlands, my primary focus will be on creative phenomenology: how hay has been perceived and employed by artists and writers, who were not directly engaged in or dependent on its production.

© Alan Ritch, Santa Cruz, California, 2003

Posted by Alan Ritch at 09:20 AM

November 05, 2003

Hay in art: table of contents.

The hay in art database has grown to over six thousand images. The essays initially were intended to illustrate both the changing technology of hay making and the ways in which hay has been used by artists and writers of the last two millennia. Here is a briefly annotated outline of the work done so far.

A database of hay images is constantly growing. By early 2005 it contained over 4200 works of art and documentary photographs, both amateur and professional. Comments and suggestions, especially of images I have overlooked, will be most welcome.

Essays finished or in progress.

The earliest representation of hay: Dacian stacks on Trajan’s column.

Bosch’s Wain’s World: the symbolism of sixteenth century hay.

Mistakes and missed stacks: separating hay from the straw and other heaps.
(William Carlos Williams, Limbourg Brothers, Durer, Bodmeer, Morland, Stubbs, Veyrassat, Monet, Caillebotte, Angrand)

Heade’s hay: light and depth in the luminist marshes.

Hutch’s hay: a Massachusetts marsh artist of our time.

Hay in winter.
(Pissarro, Fisher, Clausen, Inness, Salisbury, Allen, Sebron, Billotte, Milne, Duncan, Brownell, Fox, Currier and Ives)

Hay on water.
(Chambers, Van Goyen, Van Ruisdael, Dubbels, Nicolle, Cooke, Serres, Haden , Menpes, Turner, De Wint, Weissenbruck, Breton, Veyrassat, Beretta, Koekkoek, Leickert, Crawford, Jongkind, Redmore, Nibbs, Roux, Brown, Thurlo, Hittell)

Roles in the hay (work).
(over sixty paintings and photographs illustrating the work of women in the making and moving of hay, including images by Limbourg, Bening, Breu, Bruegel, Rubens, Stubbs, Wilson, Venetsianov, Millet, Homer, Gauguin, Dupre, Dessar)

Roles in the hay (work).(over thirty paintings and photographs illustrating the association of women with pleasure, pathos, pinups and other play in the hay, including the works of Altdorfer, Fragonard, Rowlandson, Van de Velde, Wheatley, Ratclyffe, Dahling, Homer, Goya, Palmer, Allingham, and poses by J. Russell, R. Russell, and others)

Dixton Manor haymaking: a visual encyclopedia.
(a detailed description of the haymaking activities of over a hundred people in an early 18th century landscape panorama by an unknown artist)

Montana wedding bales.
(a firsthand report on two Montana weddings, very different in character, but both using hay-bales as rustic pews)

From Wales to Wisdom: wet and dry hay in the west.
(an account of two contrasting technologies for harvesting fodder, the first in the wet west of Britain, the second in the dry west of the United States)

Introduction to the poetry of hay.
Hay poetry checklist.
Early hay poems from Lydgate to Hood.
Hay poems in the vernacular of William Barnes.
Hay poets born in the early nineteenth century.
Marsh hay poems of J. F. Herbin.
Frost on the hay.
Hay poets born in the late nineteenth century.
Hay poems of Hughes and Heaney.
Twentieth century hay poets born before 1940.
Hay poems of the late twentieth century.
Poetry in popular magazines since 1789.

A gazetteer of a hundred hay places.
Hay countries: Afghanistan to Denmark.
Hay countries: Ecuador to Kyrgyzstan.
Hay countries: Laos to Russia.
Hay countries: Scotland to Zambia.

Prospective Essays

Hay in the margins: from Byzantine illumination to Books of Hours.

Hay in the manger: humble wisps in early Nativity scenes.
(Pourbus, Pordenone, Murillo, Le Nain, Tiepolo)

High summer of the Dutch landscape: hay as seasonal metaphor
(Bruegel, Grimmer, Wildens, Rubens, Van Goyen, Bril)
Just as hay brought summer nourishment into the winter stables of their animals, paintings of hay brought the memory of warmer seasons into the chilly homes of the Dutch urban bourgeoisie. There is a pot of golden hay at the end of Rubens’ rainbow.

Hay sheds in art from Rembrandt to Heade.
(Van Goyen, Rembrandt, Van Ruisdael, Heade, Breman, Jacques, Flint, Holtrup [nd], Knipscheer [nd])

The relative absence of hay from the Italian landscape.
(Abbate’s grain, hayatus until I Machaoli: Fattori, Lega, Cabianca, Sernesi, Boldini, Nomellini, Nittis)

Hay in some 18th century English farm scenes
(Stubbs, Gainsborough, Wheatley, Morland, Ward)

Hay in 19th century landscape painting: diverse regions, styles and schools
(Britain: Turner, Constable, Cox, Cole [nd], Brown (1855), Clausen (1904)
(America: Mount, Homer, Remington [nd], Hudson (1859), Durrie (1862), Heade (1860s-90s), Shattuck (1870), Hahn (1871), Tryon (1887), Robinson (1889), Bannister (1893)

(France: Rousseau, Barbizon School, Hedouin (1852), Anastasi (1852), Bonheur (1855), Daubigny (1856), Corot (1870s), Chambellan (1872), Millet (1874),

Hay and mid-nineteenth-century sentimentalism.
(Currier and Ives, Gerard, Foster [nd], Allingham [nd]

Hay in the London suburbs.
(City of London Collage collection)

Making light of hay: Luminism and Impressionism.
(Heade, Pissarro, Monet, Sisley (1891), Angrand, Finch, Clausen (c1880+), Wendel (1887), Dessar (1894)

Hay makers: heroic and humble.
(Bullard, Millet (1850), Morgan (nd), Cole [nd], Breton (1856, 1884), Hicks (1863), Homer (1864), Radclyffe (1870), Dupre (any), Lhermitte (1887), Deyrolle [nd], Allingham [nd], Pissarro (most), Van Gogh (many), Clausen (1891), Dessar (1892), Munch, Moses, Paradise (1935), Ozols (1970), Tatarnikov (1985), Suruvka (1997), Smith [nd])

Hay makers at rest.
(Mount, Millet (1848), Belly (1863), Radclyffe (1870), Allingham (1874), Bastien-LePage (1877), Morgan (1879), Guillaumin (1889), Van Gogh, Pissarro(1891&1899), Toulouse, Lhermitte (1908), Forbes (1915) Blampied (1920), Schreiber (1939), Costigan (1940))

Decorative hay.
(Renoir (1885), Gauguin, Bernard (1888, 1892), Puigaudeau, Levitan, Dow, Altinck, Pott, Rice [nd], Derain, Nolde, Benton, Farnsworth(1935), Downing, Brauckman [nd], Dawson [nd], Evans [nd], Ferguson [nd], Knaub [nd], Mondelli [nd], Redon [nd], Thompson [nd], Fomin [nd] )

Nature morte: haystacks as architecture and still-lifes.
(Caillebotte (c1874), Redon (by 1890), Weir [nd], Morandi, Blanch (1938), Lucioni (1947), Nason (1949), Wyeth, Medearis (1994), Sultan (1998), Bray (2000), Buell [nd], Burtt [nd], Delleany [nd], Hall [nd], Haskell [nd], Hrastnik [nd]), Lothian [nd], McIntosh [nd], Slater [nd], Smith [nd]

Hay in the city.
(Shepherd (1840), Bellows (1911), Brownell (1916))
Black and white nostalgia: 20th century hay engravings
(Soper [nd], Nicolson [nd], Raverat (1930s), Pellew, Haskins, Schmutzer, Hassam (1920), Geary (1935), Petersen, Wilson (1935), Lankes (1936), DeMartelly (1943), Nason (1946), Schreiber (1946), Hornby (1950), Buell [nd], Delleany [nd], Haskell [nd], Leighton [nd]

Hay under the threat of incoming storms.
(Heade, Moses, Curry, New Yorker cover from 1945)

Russian hay: the socialist realists.
(Pimonenko, Mylnikov (1950), Vasilev (1951), Lyashchenko (1953),Nechitailo (1958),

Stack series: post-Monet hay.
(Monet, Breck (1891), Mondrian, Lichtenstein, Tansey (1981), Muniz (2001), Cotton (2003), Scoppettone (2003))

Abstracting hay.
(Malevich, Goncharova, Altinck, Tanner(1930), Dove(1931), Basmanov, Gross (1956), Oliviera (1958), Vaughan (1959), Trevelyan (1972), Self (1983), Allen (1986), Pike (1998), Sulymenko (1999), Koper (2002), Hayes [nd]

Huge hay days: stacks dwarfing their creators.
(Raverat, Moynihan (1940), Bravo(photog), Smith [nd]

Postmodern monumentalism: a few haybale follies.
(Holdsworth (1987), Dolack, Cook)

Hay art in three dimensions: sculpture and architecture.
(Guillaume, Picasso, Noguchi, Hanson, Mockbee, Otterness)

Hay in early photography.
(Talbot, Ault, Robinson, B. B. Turner, Taunt, Sutcliffe, Emerson, Watkins)

The photogeography of haymaking.
(several hundred images from over 50 countries, over the last hundred years, including the work of Hine, Hagemeyer, Weston, Lange, Rothstein, Alvarez Bravo, Hoppe, Bristol, Rowell and dozens of others previously less well known to us)

Posted by Alan Ritch at 06:11 PM

Missed stacks and mistakes: distinguishing between hay and straw and other heaps.

Monet. Haystacks at Giverny, 1885.Monet. Grainstacks, 1890. Because very few artists and art historians were also farmers, many of the so-called “haystacks” in western art actually depict stacks of wheat or other grain crops. For centuries before the hay-baler and combine-harvester dropped bales of similar dimensions in hayfields and wheat-fields, haymaking and harvesting created very different landscapes. In many parts of the world they still do.

Hay was cut from green grass with a scythe, laid in parallel windrows on the ground, dried and turned with hand-held or horse-drawn rakes after a few days of sunshine, raked by hand or horse-drawn sleds into “cobs” or “cocks” or head-high stacks in the field for further drying, then carted to the farmyard or barn where they were made into more durable ricks or stacks out of the weather’s way.

Grain crops were cut with scythe or sickle when the plants had already turned from green to gold; the fallen plants were immediately bundled into a sheaf, tied with a few straw stalks; then six to eight sheaves were leaned against each other to form a reasonably weather-proof stook or shook, which stood in the field until the sheaves were carted off to compose larger even more rain-resistant stacks, grain-ends in, cut-stalks out, either in a barn or left out in the fields.

Monet's Meules

The French meule can refer to either stack, but even a cursory examination of Monet’s famous meules (often casually translated as “haystacks”) reveals the essential differences between meules de foin and meules de grain. The latter cereal stacks, made of sheaves often used to be thatched as protection against the autumn rains and continued to stand in the fields through the winter months until the threshing (separation of grain from straw) was done, usually by the early spring. Many of Monet’s meules are highlighted with snow, and all of these and the other tidy cones in varying lights and seasons are grainstacks. His haystacks are relatively few, always done in the dappled light of summer, and to be even more precise, they are haycocks, small, shaggy, temporary heaps of hay, soon to be carted off to the farmsteads of Giverny. Here are some of his true cocks or stacks of hay:

Haystacks at Chailly at sunrise
Haystacks at Chailly at sunrise. 1865

And here is a representative sample of Monet’s more than thirty grainstacks, al from 1890-1891, justifiably more famous in the larger story of Western art:

monetwheatstacks.jpgmonetshad.jpg monetsnow.jpg monetmatin.jpg monetboston.jpg

Pairs of Paintings

Our database of hay paintings generally excludes other crops, except for the purpose of illustrating contrast in paired paintings:

Limbourg Brothers. Book of Hours, c. 1440
June - haymaking
Limbourg Brothers. Book of Hours, c. 1440
July – harvest

Bruegel. Haymaking 1565

Bruegel. Harvesters 1565

Haymaking by William Carlos Williams

The living quality of
the man's mind
stands out

and its covert assertions
for art, art, art!

that the Renaissance
tried to absorb

it remained a wheat field
over which the
wind played

men with scythes tumbling
the wheat in

the gleaners already busy
it was his own

the patient horses no one
could take that
from him

Thanks to the Harry Rusche an English professor at Emory University for juxtaposing
Williams' brilliant but mistaken conflation of hay and wheat with the haymaking image.

George Stubbs. Haymakers. 1785
George Stubbs. Reapers. 1785

Against the Grain

Our exclusion of the thousands of images of grain harvest scenes is pragmatic but regretful, since many of them, often mistakenly titled, depict harvested field patterns of stooks with great rhythmic appeal, and towering wagon-loads of sheaves and grainstacks even more architectonic than their hay equivalents.

Luttrell Psalter. “Harvest waggon” c1335-40.
N dell’Abbate “Le Vannage du Grain”
J F Millet “Autumn, the Haystacks” 1874
J J Veyrassat “Chargement de la Charette” Late 19th cent.
G Houston. “Landscape with haystacks” Stooks! 19th cent?
C Pissarro “Peasants and Haystacks” 1878
G Caillebotte. “Landscape with haystacks” c1874
E Bernard. “Moisson au Bord de la Mer”1891 Stooks?
L Lhermitte. “Gleaners” 1922

Hay in the Manger and Straw on the Floor

Hay, of course, is fodder for the animals; and straw is the inedible waste-product remaining after the grains have been beaten from it. The content of the great round bales in today’s landscape are not so easy to distinguish as the artifacts of harvest fields used to be, especially since the residual stubble of modern hay crops (such as alfalfa and Lucerne) may be as crisply regular as the chopped stalks of wheat or oats. But hay and straw both used to go into winter stables. When we look at old paintings of the interiors of stables, for example, in the hundreds of depictions of Christ’s Nativity or the ensuing Adorations of Shepherds and Kings or Magi, we can reasonably infer that if that straw-like material is in the manger, it’s hay, and if that hay-like material is on the floor, it’s straw (on the roof, it’s straw or reeds).

Domenico Ghirlandaio. “Adoration of the Shepherds” 1482-85
[hay in manger]
Correggio. “Nativity” 1528-30
[Christ on a bed of hay]
Pieter Pourbus. “Adoration of the Shepherds” 1574
[straw/hay at capital of column, straw/hay bundle]
Bartolome Esteban Murillo. “Adoration of Shepherds” 1665
[hay in manger]

The Last Straw

Another reasonable inference about hay-like iconography: the so-called “haystacks” on which Durer’s prodigal son is kneeling and Bodmeer’s Job is sitting are almost certainly heaps of manure, laced with straw bedding, given their locations in typical barnyards, and the artists’ probable intention to humiliate their subjects with as abjectly as possible!

Gabriel Bodmeer.  Suffering of Job. 16th cent.

Albrecht Durer. Prodigal Son. 1496

View Database Records for this Essay

Posted by Alan Ritch at 01:55 PM

November 04, 2003

Hay literature.

I have found and read over three thousand English language poems which contained the word “hay” at least once. Of these, I am selecting perhaps a hundred or so, ranging in age between the reigns of the two Elizabeths, and from both sides of the Atlantic, to illustrate the range of lyrical and metaphoric purposes for which poets, great and obscure, have used our humble commodity. Although in fiction and drama the hay references are more scattered and diffuse, they may also yield a few distinctive passages to our anthology.

The following poems and selections are in approximate chronological order.

Poets Born Before the Nineteenth Century.

The first group consists of eleven poems by nine poets born before the nineteenth century.

John Lydgate (c1370-c1451).
“That now is hay some-tyme was grase” c 1400.

Thomas Tusser (1524?-1580).
“Iulies Abstract”
from Five Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie 1580.

Andrew Marvell (1621-1678 ).
Verses from “Upon Appleton House to my Lord Fairfax”

James Thomson (1700-1748).
"Summer" from The Seasons

Robert Dodsley (1703-1764).
“Agriculture. A Poem”

James Grahame (1765-1811).
“June” from British Georgics

Samuel Woodworth (1784-1842).
“The Hay-makers”

John Clare (1793-1864).

John Clare (1793-1864).
“Haymaking” [sonnet]

Thomas Hood (1799-1845).
“That Flesh is Grass is Now as Clear as Day”

Thomas Hood (1799-1845).
"Miss Killmansegg and Her Precious Leg. A Legend"

Poets Born in the Early Nineteenth Century.

The second group consists of fifteen poems by eleven poets born in the first half of the nineenth century.

William Barnes (1801-1886).
“Round Things”

William Barnes (1801-1886).

William Barnes (1801-1886).

William Barnes (1801-1886).
“Hay-Meaken. Nunchen Time”

William Barnes (1801-1886).
“Between Haymaking and Harvest”

Robert Nicoll (1814-1837).
“The Making o’ the Hay”

Thomas English (1819-1902).

Dora Greenwell(1821-1882).

William Allingham(1824-1889).
“To the Author of 'Hesperides'”

Emily Dickinson(1830-1886).
“The Grass”

William Morris(1834-1896).
“The Half of Life Gone”

Will Carleton(1845-1912).
“The Boy in the Mow”

John Keegan Casey(1846-1870).
“The Making of the Hay”

George Barlow(1847-1914).
“The Hay-fields on the Cliff-top”

Michael Field(1848-1914).
“The Hayfield”

Poets Born in the Late Nineteenth Century.

The third group consists of 26 poems by fifteen poets born in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Robert Richardson.
“A Haycart in the City”

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894).
“The Hayloft”

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).
“Symphony in Yellow”

John Frederic Herbin (1860-1923).

John Frederic Herbin (1860-1923).
“The Dyke”

John Frederic Herbin (1860-1923).
“The Night-mower”

John Frederic Herbin (1860-1923).
“The Sea Harvest”

John Frederic Herbin (1860-1923).

John Frederic Herbin (1860-1923).
“In the Rain”

John Frederic Herbin (1860-1923).
“Aftermath” [sonnet]

John Frederic Herbin (1860-1923).
“Aftermath” ["August is hot in the flood of an ardent sun"]

Carman Bliss (1861-1929).
“The Blue Heron”

Katharine Tynan (1861-1931).

Eva Gore-Booth (1870-1926).
“We Shall Be Changed”

Robert Frost (1874-1963).
“The Code”

Robert Frost (1874-1963).

Robert Frost (1874-1963).
“The Exposed Nest”

Robert Frost (1874-1963).
“The Death of the Hired Man”

Edward Thomas (1878-1917).

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963).

D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930).

D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930).
“Leaves of Grass, Flowers of Grass”

Andrew Young (1885-1971).
“The Haystack”

Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982).
“New England Weather”

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950).
“The Gardener in Haying Time”

Robert Graves (1895-1985).
“It's a Queer Time”

Poets Born Since the Nineteenth Century.

The final group consists of 33 poems by 25 poets born since 1900.

Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967).

Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982).
“Sottoportico San Zaccaria”

Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982).
“Rogation Days”

E. J. Scovell (1907- ).
“The Half-Mown Meadow”

William Stafford (1907- ).

Louis MacNeice (1907-1963).
"Eclogue by a Five-barred Gate"

Louis MacNeice (1907-1963).
"Last before America"

William Everson (1912-1994).
"And Do the Indulgent Lovers"

Jean Garrigue (1912-1972).
"This Swallow's Empire"

Jean Garrigue (1912-1972).
“Invitation to a Hay”

Muriel Rukeyser (1913-).
“Haying Before Storm”

Maxine Kumin (1925-).

Hayden Carruth (1926-).
“The Baler”

Hayden Carruth (1926-).
“Emergency Haying”

James Arlington Wright (1927-).
“Lament for my Brother on a Hayrake”

Galway Kinnell (1927-).
“Farm Picture”

Thom Gunn (1929-2004).
“At the Back of the North Wind”

Gary Snyder (1930-).
“Hay for the Horses”

Ted Hughes (1930-1998).
“Feeding Out – Wintering Cattle at Twilight”

Ted Hughes (1930-1998).

Ted Hughes (1930-1998).
“Last Load”

Seamus Heaney (1939-).
“Storm on the Island”

Seamus Heaney (1939-).

Bin Ramke (1947-).
“The Movement of Birds like Years”

Paul Muldoon (1951-).

Paul Muldoon (1951-).
“The Plot”

John Kinsella (1963-).
“Wrapping the Hay”

Chip Stringer.
“Where the hay is now comes to me.”

Cristiane Jacox Kyle.
“Dialog in Jordan, Montana”

Tom Hansen.
“Haystack at Sunset near Giverny”

Edwina Powell.

Chris Agee.
“Dark Hay”

Robert Pack.
“Baled Hay”

Posted by Alan Ritch at 02:50 PM

November 02, 2003

Hay prose passages.

Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451. Ballantine Books: New York, 1953, p. 142.

"Millie was not here and the Hound was not here, but the dry smell of hay blowing from some distant field put Montag on the land. He remembered a farm he had visited when he was very young, one of the rare few times he discovered that somewhere behind the seven veils of unreality, beyond the walls of parlors and beyond the tin moat of the city, cows chewed grass and pigs sat in warm ponds at noon and dogs barked after white sheep on a hill. "Now the dry smell of hay, the motion of the waters, made him think of sleeping in fresh hay in a lonely barn away from the loud highways, behind a quiet farmhouse, and under an ancient windmill that whirred like the sound of the passing years overhead. He lay in the high barn loft all night, listening to distant animals and insects and trees, the little motions and stirrings..."

Thomas Hardy. Far from the Madding Crowd. Chapter 26, especially.

Thomas Hardy. The Mayor of Casterbridge. Chapter 1, etc.

Sarah Orne Jewett. A Marsh Island (1885), cited in Stebbins, p.126

"The salt-hay making was over at last. The marshes were dotted as far as eye could see by the round haystacks with their deftly pointed tops. These gave a great brilliance of color to the landscape, being unfaded yet by the rain and snow that would dull their yellow tints later in the year."

Janet Kauffman. “Patriotic” IN Places in the World a Woman Could Walk, New York: Knopf, 1983, pp. 49-64.

Annie Proulx. “The Trickle-down Effect,” New Yorker, December 23 &30, 2002, pp.124 –127.

"I could a sold it at the hay auction for more, but Deb said you was a friend and needed hay bad."

Isaac Bashevitz Singer. "Zlateh the Goat" IN Stories for Children, NY: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1962, pp. 48-49.

"Suddenly he made out the shape of a hill. He wondered what it could be. Who had piled snow into such a huge heap? He moved toward it, dragging Zlateh after him. When he came near it, he realized that it was a large haystack which the snow had blanketed.

"Aaron realized immediately that they were saved. With great effort he dug his way through the snow. He was a village boy and knew what to do. When he reached the hay, he hollowed out a nest for himself and the goat. No matter how cold it was outside, in the hay it was always warm. And hay was food for Zlateh. The moment she smelled it she became contented and began to eat. Outside the snow continued to fall. It quickly covered the passageway Aaron had dug. But a boy and an animal need to breathe, and there was hardly any air in the hideout. Aaron bored a kind of window through the hay and snow and carefully kept the passage clear.

"Zlateh, having eaten her fill, sat down on her hind legs and seemed to have regained her confidence in man. Aaron ate his two slices of bread and cheese, but after the difficult journey he was still hungry. He looked at Zlateh and noticed that her udders were full. He lay down next to her, placing himself so that when he milked her he could squirt the milk into his mouth. It was rich and sweet. Zlateh was not accustomed to being milked that way, but she did not resist. On the contrary, she seemed eager to reward Aaron for bringing her to a shelter whose very walls, floor, and ceiling were made of food.

"Through the window Aaron could catch a glimpse of the chaos outside. The wind carried before it whole drifts of snow. It was completely dark, and he did not know whether night had already come or whether it was the darkness of the storm. Thank God that in the hay it was not cold. The dried hay, grass, and field flowers exuded the warmth of the summer sun." [found by Ellen Abrams, May 2006]

Leo Tolstoy. Anna Karenina. Part III, Chapter 11-12.

"He went to the hay fields and examined the stacks. The haystacks could not possibly contain fifty wagon-loads each, and to convict the peasants Levin ordered the wagons that had carried the hay to be brought up directly, to lift one stack, and carry it into the barn. There turned out to be only thirty-two loads in the stack. In spite of the village elder's assertions about the compressibility of hay, and its having settled down in the stacks, and his swearing that everything had been done in the fear of God, Levin stuck to his point that the hay had been divided without his orders, and that, therefore, he would not accept that hay as fifty loads to a stack. After a prolonged dispute the matter was decided by the peasants taking these eleven stacks, reckoning them as fifty loads each. The arguments and the division of the haycocks lasted the whole afternoon. When the last of the hay had been divided, Levin, intrusting the superintendence of the rest to the counting-house clerk, sat down on a haycock marked off by a stake of willow, and looked admiringly at the meadow swarming with peasants."

Mark Twain. Roughing It

"Dan used to make a good thing out of the hay wagons in a dry time when
there were no fires or inquests. Are there no hay wagons in from the
Truckee? If there are, you might speak of the renewed activity and all
that sort of thing, in the hay business, you know.

"It isn't sensational or exciting, but it fills up and looks business like."

"I canvassed the city again and found one wretched old hay truck dragging
in from the country. But I made affluent use of it. I multiplied it by
sixteen, brought it into town from sixteen different directions, made
sixteen separate items out of it, and got up such another sweat about hay
as Virginia City had never seen in the world before."

Posted by Alan Ritch at 02:48 PM

November 01, 2003

Some books on hay.

Asson, David A. Bringing in the hay: a nostalgic history of agriculture's most romantic crop. Beaverton, OR: Doubletree Advantage Corp., 2003.

Asson coverWhen our friend Sherril Sharf recently came back from Montana and mentioned that she'd found a new book on haymaking, I doubted that it could either add much to what I already knew or make redundant the hay book that this web site is gradually assembling. To my mixed delight and chagrin, David Asson's book does a bit of both. On several aspects of traditional haying in the American west, it is unrivalled in its detailed technical data and wealth of illustration. While not pretending to be scholarly, it is packed with original research, notably on the variety, complexity and geographic distribution of vernacular hay-elevators. While a few cultural geographers (e.g., Rick Francaviglia's “Western Hay Derricks: Cultural Geography and Folklore as Revealed by Vanishing Agricultural Technology,” Journal of Popular Culture 1978 11(4): 916-927), have done some cursory research on this topic, nobody I know has travelled so far, or talked to so many ranchers, or gathered so many images, or tabulated his discoveries so systematically, or written on our topic with such uninhibited enthusiasm, as has David Asson. On the book's 124 pages are almost 250 illustrations, virtually none of which are in my own database of over 2700. This lack of overlap is disconcerting, since, in other recently discovered sources, I had begun to find, at last, more frequent duplication. I wish that the author were as consistent in his captions and attribution as he is, for example, in his meticulous maps and directions to surviving artifacts. Although he sprinkles the text with the work of painters and poets, Asson's approach and focus challenges the uniqueness of my own interests far less than do such art historians as the late Kristian Sotriffer and Christiana Payne (see below). His short bibliography is also both useful and unnerving in its innocence of most of the sources I've found to be invaluable. Since he helpfully provided his email -- I can't wait to learn more about his idiosyncratic methodology, which is evidently as eccentric as my own!

Brueghel, Pieter, the Elder. Hay-making. Introduction by Jaromir Sip, translated by Till Gottheiner. London: Spring Books, 1960.

This books has a 24 page essay illustrated by 24 details of Brueghel's masterpiece. Those seeking a detailed description of sixteenth century hay-making will be disappointed, but others will enjoy Sip's expansive essay which provides a broad historical context for the painting and describes some of its complexity. Especially useful is the analysis of the composition and the constituent scenes which it contains. Three of the details, each an exquisitely composed piece by itself, are shown below.

Bruegel. Haymaking detail. 1565.Bruegel. Haymaking detail. 1565.Bruegel. Haymaking detail. 1565.

Images from this book are in our database: ID 2012-2016, and other images of the painting are in ID 33-35.

Harper, Douglas. Changing works: visions of a lost agriculture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Harper is a sociologist, but this book is far more than a conventional rural sociology on changing ways of life in the dairy country of upstate New York. Harper uses the voices of the farmers themselves to tell the story of economic and technological change. Only one chapter specifically concerns hay --‘Making hay’ pp. 85-111 -- but the whole book is an invaluable context to our topic. The book’s illustrations from the archives of the Standard Oil of New Jersey documentary photography project, less well known than the work of the FSA but involving many of the same photographers, are especially useful. Garrison Keillor’s blurb is justified: ‘This good book opens a door on a proud and private and admirable people, the dairy farmers, and a gentle way of life now disappearing.’

Harper cover, photograph by Sol Libsohn, 1945.Harper, p.97, photograph by Sol Libsohn, 1945.

Other images from this book are in our database: ID 1437-1444, ID 1450, ID 1454, ID 1469, ID 1473]

thehaymakers.gifHoffbeck, Steven. The haymakers: a chronicle of five farm families. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2000.

Hoffbeck tells the enthralling story of five Minnesotan farm families, using changing methods of haymaking over the past hundred-and-fifty years as the focus of a much broader cultural experience. It is also a very personal story: Hoffbeck’s father and brother were both killed in farm accidents, and so the Hoffbeck farm and the family’s way of life were victims of unusual tragedy and not just of the transforming influences of economics and technology.

title-pages from Hoffbeck.Man, scythe and haycock, from Hoffbeck, p. 28.

Other illustrations from this book may be found in our database, ID 1371-1379.

makinghaybook.gifanother cover of the same editionKlinkenborg, Verlyn. Making hay. New York: Vintage, 1987.

If John McPhee wrote a book on hay, it might rival but would not excel Klinkenborg’s. Short, fast, funny, but factual, Making hay combines first-rate, first-person narrative, set in the Midwest and the Big Hole Valley of southwestern Montana, with succinct ancient agricultural history, tracing alfalfa back to its roots, so to speak, ten millennia ago. 'As the grass fell neatly behind, the mowers earned the mysterious satisfaction that comes from cutting grass, something even shirtless suburban boys feel tackling a neglected lawn. It is like polarizing the graminous creation: the cut reduces stray reflections off supple blades to consistency, and the crewcut stiffness of newmown grass refracts a darker green.’

Das Erbe der Bergler coverLangjahr, Erich. Das Erbe er Bergler [Alpine saga].. Langjahr Film GmbH, 2006.

This is a DVD and not literally a book. Furthermore, this documentary film on arduous, traditional hay-making high in the Swiss Alps has almost no words. Nevertheless, it belongs in any hay bibliography because of its vivid depictions of mowing with scythes on the steepest slopes, collecting and compacting the hay in large nets, hauling and attaching the bundles to a metal cable, down which the bales slide at apparently dangerous speeds thousands of feet to winter storage barns, and finally lifting the bundles up into the barn lofts, where they mature until they are transported down to the animals on beautiful hand-made sleds. Whole families are involved in the construction of the tools and harvesting the fodder. The 97 minute film shows the importance of haymaking in the Alpine culture and economy and the skill and strength needed to sustain this way of life. It was kindly sent to me by the Afflerbacher/Blickle family who live in southern Germany, across the Bodensee from Switzerland, in rolling hill country more suited to modern hay production than are the landscapes shown in the movie.

Wim's 2008 book coverLanphen, Wim et al. Hooibergen in nederland: Geschiedenis en behoud van een agrarisch cultuurmonument.. Ijsselacademie, 2008.

The definitive book on the traditional haysheds of the Netherlands was sent to me in the summer of 2008 by one of its authors, our friend Wim Lanphen. While my slim knowledge of Dutch puts the text (by Wim and his colleagues, Suzan Jurgens and Marten Jansen) beyond my understanding, the splendid photography (by Wim, Henk Frons and Maja de Zwaan are both descriptive and beautiful. While I was familiar with this magnificent expression of vernacular architecture both from Wim's web-site and my own travels in Maramures, Romania, I was astonished by the range of surviving structures in the Netherlands and especially by the meticulously thatched roofs which appear to be still in pristine condition.

Wim's 2007 book coverLanphen, Wim. Een Oost-Nederlandse hooiberg bouwen.. Hattem, NL: Stichting Kennisbehoud Hooibergen Nederland, 2007.

Wim's earlier book, while less comprehensive, is equally attractive and thoroughly documents the construction of a traditional barn by a contemporary craftsman, Willem Ruhof. By the efforts of such craftsmen, and of Wim and the SKHN, this magnificent expression of Dutch folk architecture is being revived and preserved, even as the homogenization and industrialization of rural technology threatens to sweep it away.

Haying with horses dust jacketMiller, Lynn R. Haying with horses. Sisters, OR: Small Farmer’s Journal, 2000.

Lynn Miller writes about horse-farming the way Stewart Brand and his staff used to write about all manner of energy-efficient tools, with the authority that comes from repeated, thoughtful use, the enthusiasm that comes from strong convictions, and an economical style that comes from a genuine talent for technical description. Haying with horses was written more for the practicing hay farmer than for the mere enthusiast, but it is loaded with reliable historical fact and dense with useful illustrations: photographs, old and contemporary, and line drawings culled from old machinery catalogs. Scholars would have appreciated more specific source information, and the long, technical bibliography of sales catalogs and other documents hardly hints at the difficulty of obtaining them. But the eighteen, well-researched, entertainingly written chapters, dense with practical advice and lively anecdote more than justify the price of a new copy ($32.95). Miller’s astonishing productivity as farmer, writer and editor excuses his occasional amusing tendency to moralize: e.g., in his “equipment roundup” he advocates a four tine fork: “the two tine fork is primarily a grain bundle fork (or a lazy hay farmer’s fork.)” And how can we resist the following audacious similes? “The putting up of cured forage can also be akin to a culinary art, to exterior decorating, to landscape sculpting, to process poetry, if the ingredients are understood and worthless notions of efficiency are thrown out.”

Toil and Plenty dust jacket. 15th cent ms.Payne, Christiana. Toil and plenty: images of the agricultural landscape in England, 1780-1890. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.

Payne’s is that most satisfying kind of art history, reflecting several kinds of knowledge: mastery of the facts of British agriculture during a century of dramatic change; and understanding of the myth and ideology which inspired several generations of artists to filter those facts into the landscape styles and genres of the period. The exhibition for which this book served as a brilliant catalogue, yields dozens of fine hay paintings to our own virtual collection. Payne notes that ‘wheat harvesting was easily the most popular agricultural subject for artists’ of the period, but haymaking was also a very common theme, ‘often treated by artists in a light-hearted way, with much emphasis on the elegance of the female haymakers.’

David Cox. Haymaking.  Payne, plate 26.Sir George Clausen. The Mowers.  Payne, plate 22.

Hay images from Payne’s book in our database include: ID 91, ID 136, ID 376, ID 384, ID 388, ID 390, ID 391, ID 394-403, ID 417, ID 453, ID 1316.

British Landscape Painting: half-title page.Rosenthal, Michael. British landscape painting. Oxford: Phaidon, 1982.

Rosenthal's ambitious survey of 750 years of British landscape painting pays close attention to changing conditions of agriculture and is particularly helpful to those of us interested in haymaking. While inevitably less focussed than Christina Payne's monograph on the nineteenth century, Rosenthal's book includes some wonderful images from preceding and later periods. Two examples, one from the eighteenth and one from the twentieth century, illustrate his style and insight. An epic, panoramic view of haymaking in the Cotswolds early in the eighteenth century depicts a large field occupied by a cast of dozens of tiny figures, no fewer than 23 of whom are mowing parallel swathes just left of center. 'We are shown grass being mown and tedded, in corners of the field tiny figures repose, and at the bottom right, a line of Morris men leave a field, their dance imitated by the lines of mowers and rakers. This painting then describes haymaking and is besides a valuable record both of the way it took place and of the rituals involved.' [Rosenthal, p. 26]. Rosenthal relates this work to Thomson's poem 'Summer' , (1727), and its description of how the village 'swarms ... o'er the jovial mead.' Nash, in Rosenthal's analysis, 'has portrayed the lines of drying hay, the walls of the park, and its trees, the swell and slope of the landscape…There is a strong feeling of this landscape having been deserted; the farmer now visits and exploits it rather than working in it. The imagery of completed haymaking is one which has been illustrated several times through this book. Usually there is celebration and crowding -- recall the lines of mowers and rakers in the Dixton haymaking [ID 2454]. With Nash there is no longer any festive jollity. The pragmatic appoach means that once the hay is dry enough it will be baled and carted off, and the lack of figures is a way of pointing up the peculiar quality of this modern development of a time-honoured motif.'

Dixton Manor haymaking. 1710-20. Rosenthal, p.29.John Nash. Park scene, Great Glenham. Rosenthal, p. 172.

Hay images from Rosenthal’s book in our database include: ID 77, ID 78, ID 87, ID 92, ID 384, ID 921, ID 2452-2465, ID 2470.

Heu und Stroh dust jacket. 15th cent ms.Sotriffer, Kristian. Heu & Stroh: ein beitrag zur Kultur- und Kunstgeschichte. Linz: Veritas-Verlag, 1990.

Discovered in February, 2004, after I had written several essays and loaded over 1500 images into our database, this monograph by an eminent Austrian art historian is a tantalizing revelation. Sotriffer surveys both the art that hay and straw have inspired, as landscape forms and material media, and the artifacts in the agricultural landscape, especially the haying landscape of the meadows of the Austrian Tyrol, but also ranging southwest into Tuscany and southeast into Slovenia. The photographs alone offer an astonishing typology of haystack shapes; the captions and essays that accompany them seem to be erudite explanations of morphological variation. The shift from the phrase ‘Hay in art’ to the sentence ‘Hay is art’ is brilliantly illustrated here, and, in our own work, we shall struggle to amplify both messages.

Haymaking fresco, c. 1400. Sotriffer, p. 28.Car in bale, 1989 advertisement. Sotriffer, p.128.

Other images from Sotriffer's book in the database include ID 1594-1610.

Ipswich Marshes on Stebbins' title pageStebbins, Theodore E. Jr. The life and work of Martin Johnson Heade: a critical analysis and catalogue raisonne. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

Why should the definitive scholarly monograph on a single artist, better known for his tropical landscapes and orchids, be included in a short, highly selective bibliography on hay? Because Stebbins gathered almost all of Heade’s 120 hay images into one convenient publications and helped popularize this theme so effectively that a bad example of Heade's marsh hay paintings recently sold for more than a million dollars.

Great Swamp, Stebbins, p. 120All of them, we hope, are in our database: ID 169-287, and ID 454; and the million dollar marsh painting, not in Stebbins because it was discovered since the book was published, is ID 581. Many of them are also included with commentary in our essay Heade’s Hay.

 The scythe book
Tresemer, David. The scythe book. Second edition. Chambersburg, PA: Alan C. Hood, 2001.
Cover drawing; Tara Devereux. Hayinart database ID 2823.
Tresemer's book is the definitive compendium of everything associated with the traditional hay mower's primary tool. It is full of practical advice on the scythe's selection, use and maintenance. It is equally rich in the scythe's lore, literature and symbolism. Hay-cutting is one of the three principal applications of this ancient blade (the others are harvesting small grains and the more mundane clearing of weeds), but it occupies the longest and most loving chapters in the book, in which the versatilty and other virtues of traditional methods are thoroughly extolled. For example, the scythe can be used when the hay is most full of nutrition but the ground is too wet for mechanized mowers and along the edges of fields which machines can not reach. In our own essay on Maramures hay, we showed a further instance of this advantage: scythes reaching under the branches of laden plum-trees to work around the trunk. The original illustrations, by Tara Devereux, are descriptively textured line drawings. Less effective are the handful of muddily reproduced paintings, including harvest scenes (NOT haymaking!) by Brueghel, Benton and Bernard, and Francis Alexander's Wheelock Farm.

Yale cover.Yale, Allen R, Jr. While the sun shines: making hay in Vermont, 1789-1990. Montpelier, Vermont: Vermont Historical Society, 1991.

Yale captures two centuries of changing hay technology in New England, from scythe to silage. He is particuarly helpful in identifying salient phases stemming from industrial change: 'in metallurgy, the development of mechanical power, the mass manufacture of iron implements, and the introduction of the tractor.' The concluding sentence predicts a shrinking future for traditional hay: ‘While the harvesting of grass forage will continue to be important to Vermont dairy farmers, the harvesting of grass in its dry form, as hay, appears to be on the decline.’

FB 977. Hay caps, 1922.United States Department of Agriculture. Farmers' Bulletin Series.

Washington: Government Printing Office.

Not really a book, but an invaluable series of pamphlets for historians of hay making, especially in North America. Among those of particular interest are the following, tracked down on Ebay by Emily Reich:

502. Evans, M. W. Timothy production on irrigated land in the northwestern states. 1912.

693. Piper, Charles V. and McKee, Roland. Bur Clover. 1915.

838. Yerkes, Arnold P. and McClure, H. B. Harvesting hay with a sweep-rake: a means by which eastern hay-growers may save labor. 1917.

865. Fortier, Samuel. Irrigation of alfalfa. Issued 1909, rev. 1925.

FB 1476. Johnson grass, 1926.977. McClure, H. B. Hay caps. Issued 1918, repr. 1922.

990. Evans, Morgan W. Timothy. Issued 1918, rev. 1923.

1009. McClure, H. B. Hay stackers: how they may be used in the east and south to save labor. 1919.

1148. Morse, W. J. Cowpeas: culture and varieties. Issued 1920, rev. 1924.

1250. Piper, C. V. Green manuring. 1925.

1339. Pieters, A. J. Red-clover culture. 1926. supersedes FB 455, Red clover.

1476. Vinall, H. N. Johnson grass: its production for hay and pasturage. 1926.

Hay and Forage Journal.

This journal includes news on hay production and prices and even has occasional articles on the broader cultural aspects of hay. See, for example, the piece by Fae Holin (August, 1998) "Celebrating hay" which describes an art festival in and around Shelburne, Vermont using hay as material and motif.

Posted by Alan Ritch at 06:04 PM

Books for children.

Coatsworth, Elizabeth. Away goes Sally. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1967. Pictures by Helen Sewell.

Chapter 1 "The Salt Hay" has many well observed details of hay making in the marshes.

"Sally knew just where to look for Uncle Joseph and Uncle Eben and the three hired men, and quickly recognized their group from among the others at work. Uncle Joseph was leading the mowing with long steady sweeps of his arms, each ending in a sort of jerk, walking forward through a continual slow falling wave of grass and a hiss of steel on dry stalks. The other men had hard work to keep up with him. Uncle Eben had dropped behind and was honing the curved blade of his scythe.

"'To cut well, you must sharpen well,' he used to say with a sly wink at Sally. He was fat and lazy. He spent more time sharpening than cutting, but people liked to work with him because he was always jolly."

Coatsworth's fine short poem on the subject concludes the chapter.

Coatsworth, Elizabeth. The Little Haymakers New York: The MacMillan Company, 1949. Illustrated by Grace Paull.

The title tempted us to track down a rare copy of another Coatsworth book. Like Away Goes Sally, this too is about children working on a traditional New England farm, but, oddly, the only sign of haymaking is the field of cocks on the front cover, upstaged by the main characters in the story, two oxen named Neighbor and Nuisance.

Dean. Live Bale of hay cover art. Dean,Carol Shorey. The Live Bale of Hay: a real Maine adventure. Camden, Maine: Down East Books, 2004. Illustrated by Sandra Dunn.

There are lots of Maine haying details in this pleasantly illustrated book. "Wet hay mildews and gives the cows a bellyache." A barn burned down when " the hay was too green, and it was stacked too tight, the bales got all hot inside and burst into flames." Something called a "conditioning machine" which looks just like a tedder or side-rake, picked up the alfalfa with its "spinning wire prongs...tossing them in the air. The dried hay landed in neat trows, waiting for the baling machine to scoop it up. By afternoon the baler arrived, bouncing behind the tractor. On the front, it had metal fingers that combed up the loose alfalfa. as the hay was pressed together inside the machine, strong twine bound it into rectangular bales that moved down a conveyor belt, tumbling onto the ground. The bales of hay lined up like dominoes across the field. A evening approached...the big truck moved slowly across the field, and the men got busy lifting the heavy bales onto the truck body. Their last stop would be the barn, where the hay would be stacked and stored for the winter." The main "Maine adventure" occurs later that evening when the two young heroines mistake a bear for a bale.
Field of bales. Bear and bales. Bear and bales.

For more illustrations from this work, go to our hay database and check ID 4446-4450.

Haystack cover.Geisert, Bonnie and Arthur. Haystack. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1995. Illustrated by Arthur Geisert.

Several mysteries surrounded my discovery, on the last day of 2006, this extraordinary children's haystack book, published eleven years earlier. How could such a fine, award-winning story have evaded my attention for so long? How could the method of haystack construction and consumption which it depicts so persuasively also have escaped me? Where and when was hay pushed together into a rudimentary mound surrounded by a semi-protective fence which enabled cattle to nibble away the edges into concave scallops? How did the surface of this flat, low-slung stack shed the rain? When and where did the haystack, fence removed, serve as a protective shelter even as the cattle continued to consume it? Did cattle and pigs really munch the remains of the hay together and leave a stack of manure to be scattered as field-food at the beginning of the new growth cycle? I emailed the Geiserts, who evidently live in Illinois, to discover the source and context of their narrative but have yet to hear from them. A detailed response from Bonnie the author confirmed that the scenes and activity were indeed based on childhood memories and photographs from the family farm in South Dakota, although the pigs were a concession to the illustrator's career-long porcine commitment. The book is beautifully spacious in its horizontal layout, a wide double-screen of water-colored etchings which depict a landscape further west than the author's current home. The background motifs are vividly familiar to those who love the plains: endless railroad embankment underscoring the horizon; freight trains hauling agricultural products or equipment; and grain elevators, dwarfing a water tower and steeple, towering into dynamic skies, clear and cloudy, in every season and time of day. The farmsteads around the huge hay field are similarly specific and authentic, with, for example, trees in the windbreaks changing color with the seasons. But the central theme disconcerted me until its fusion of old and new technology were explained in Bonnie's letter. The tractor and its accessory mower, side-rake, buck-rake-stacker, and muck-spreader all have a modern feel; but the family pitching in, the clothes they wear, and the loose haystack itself seem timeless and nostalgic. Whatever its transitional reality in space and time, this engaging book has an air of epic truth.

Haystack and moon.Cattle sheltering from the snow.

Prairie Summer cover.Geisert, Bonnie and Arthur. Prairie Summer. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 2002. Illustrated by Arthur Geisert.

When I wrote to Bonnie Geisert to discover more information about the geographic setting of Haystack than was conveyed in the minimal text of that book for younger readers, she sent me a generous autobiographical essay giving me all the details I needed. She also referred me to Prairie Summer, published seven years later, for older readers. The narrative includes two vivid chapters describing hay-making from the perspective of a young girl on top of the stack. The work is not romanticized. Stacking is just one of several farm tasks inflicted on the heroine Rachel. Her failure to do any of them competently, at least in the eyes of her unforgiving father, give the story an unusual poignancy, and a tension which is not relieved until she is given the opportunity for genuine heroism in the final chapter. The haying details are precisely observed, especially the use of the "hydraulic hay fork" (very like, in form and function, the buck-rake of ranches further west) to heap and gather the windrows and dump large lumps of hay onto the stack for Rachel's sisters to spread with pitchforks. "The only tools [Rachel] needed were [her] feet and [her] weight to press the hay down." I remember this task both from my own childhood and from watching Olga Fat using her feet to compress a Romanian stack last September. "After the loads of hay were spread over the stack, my legs sank into the hay about halfway to my knees. Each time I trampled over the hay, I sank less into it. Trampling was easier when I didn't sink so far. The more the hay was packed, the more would fit into the stack. That's how Carol had explained it to me when I had asked once why the hay had to be trampled anyway. Dad was out of earshot, of course." [p. 52] When the side of the stack starts to taper in too much, the girls are criticized, and one of them mutters: "It's just a haystack, for heaven's sake... why does it have to be so perfect?" But haystacks, like beautifully constructed novels, deserve perfection.
Dad just can't stand to see me sitting.Wind-driven leaves and hay flecks stung my face.


Haas, Jessie. Hurry! New York: Greenwillow Books, 2000. Pictures by Joseph A. Smith.
Nora and Gramp and Gran work together to get the hay in the barn before a rainstorm. Several hay-making activities are vividly illustrated under a sky that goes from blue to white to gray to grayer: Nora on a horse-drawn tedder; Gramp on a horse-rake shaping the windrows; and all three characters on a wagon pulling a hayloader. A load ‘as big as the moon’ is rescued from the rain and is in the barn just as the rain starts. ‘The barn smells so sweet. All of summer is inside here. The rain patters, then it splashes, then it drums. It makes a silver curtain between the barn and the wide, green world.’

For more illustrations from this work, go to our hay database and check ID 1213-1216.

Mowing cover.Haas, Jessie. Mowing. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1994. Pictures by Joseph A Smith.

An earlier book on hay-making by the team who wrote and illustrated Hurry!
The central characters are a small girl named Nora and her grandfather. While Gramp cuts the hay with a horse-drawn mower, Nora runs beside him alerting him to wildlife: woodchucks; killdeer; a bobolink; and a faun. Gramp sacrifices a couple of patches of grass to the faun and a killdeer nest. ‘Some people would call that a pretty bad job of mowing, but we know better, don’t we?’

For more illustrations from this work, go to our hay database and check ID 1246-1250.

The wonderful hay tumble cover.Harris, Kathleen McKinley. The Wonderful Hay Tumble New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1988. Illustrated by Dick Gackenbach.

Evidently "hay tumble" is Vermont dialect for haycock. In this engaging fantasy, a poor farmer making hay on a steep mountain-side decides to roll his hay tumbles down to the ramshackle barn below. One tumble leads to another, growing like a snowball so large that it bounces over the barn. While tumbling the tumble somehow contrives to do all the farmer's chores: stacking sap buckets; pulling weeds; cutting and stacking logs; catching and cleaning trout; picking up stones and dropping them neatly into a wall; and lending gently on the wife's milk cart. "And that was the start of good fortune for the farmer and his wife." The haycocks and their dynamic passage down the hill are vividly painted by Dick Gackenbach.

He sat down and wept.He'd roll his hay to the barn.A little shove.

Like a giant snowball.Over the top of the barn.Rolled up all the stones.

Patterson cover.Patterson, Geoffrey. The Story of hay. Ipswich, UK: Farming Press, 1996.
With clear language and equally descriptive illustrations, Patterson traces the evolution of haying methods from the ‘pick thank’ and reaping hook to the mechanized equipment of today. Although the text is simple, its content is detailed enough to be valuable to adults with an interest in the history of hay. The pictures of mechanical processes are particularly fine, worthy of David Macauley. The conclusion is familiar: ‘From cutting to stacking, modern machinery helps the farmer to store his hay safely for the winter faster and with far less help than a hundred or so years ago.’

Carting hay in 1800. Patterson, p.11.Carting hay in 1980. Patterson, p.31.

Smith and Bennett cover.Smith, Nila B and Bennett, Elizabeth H. The Story of Hay. Silver Burdett Company, 1938. Illustrated by Evan A. Hart.
This elementary reader in the Unit-Activity Series is long out of print and now quite rare. Only one public library in the US appears to hold it (Allen County Public Library in Indiana); we were able to find a copy on ABE. Page 1 is typically succinct: ‘Cows and horses eat hay. Farmers make hay from grass and clover and other plants. The farmers cut the plants. Then the plants are dried in the sun.’

Hey Hay! cover.Terban, Marvin. Hey, hay! A wagonful of funny homonym riddles. New York: Clarion Books, 1991. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.

The title is the answer to the riddle on page 13. ‘What do you shout to get the attention of cut and dried grass?’ But that one riddle and the cover illustration earn this book a place in our hay bibliography.
Hey Hay! p.13.

Posted by Alan Ritch at 02:43 PM