March 23, 2004


Early hay.

In her 2003 thesis (Archaeological land evaluation: a reconstruction of the suitability of ancient landscapes for various land uses in Italy focused on the first millennium BC), Ester van Joolen placed the invention of haymaking in Italy at roughly 1000-700 BC, associated with the appearance of the first bronze scythe.

Expensive hay art.

A masterpiece by the French Impressionist artist, Claude Monet, from the artist’s iconic Haystacks series, sold for an impressive £10,123,500 at Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - a new world auction record for a Haystack painting by the artist. We're inclined to dub this the most expensive mistake/missed stack, since the painting sold was 'Meules, Derniers Rayons de Soleil' which Sotheby's should know is a GRAINstack painting (ID 557 in our database).

The casual observer may have regarded the May 5, 2004 sale of Picasso's 'Boy with a Pipe' to an unknown buyer with astonishment at its unprecedented price and apprehension about its uncertain fate. The Greentree Foundation, established by the Whitney family to foster international peace, received $104 million for the painting bought by the Whitneys in 1950 for $30,000. The hay art googler, inadvertently retrieving each of the several thousand stories which mention the middle family name (John HAY Whitney) in relation to art, is annoyed for a different reason.

Hay boats and barges.

Alma is a 112 year old hay barge, operated as a charter vessel by the National Park Service out of San Francisco.

The mural in the Hyde Park, NY, Post Office has, on Panel 4, a painting of a hay boat being loaded.

In Dostoevski’s Crime and Punishment, Chapter 2, Part 1, Raskolnikov is asked “have you ever spent a night on a hay barge, on the Neva?”

In The Village Romeo and Juliet by Frederick Delius, the hero and heroine commit suicide by floating away on a hay barge and then pulling the plug. Based on the 1856 German story, by Gottfried Keller, Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe.

The Dawn was built in Maldon in Essex in the late 1890s for James Keeble, a local hay and straw merchant and barge owner, by a jobbing shipwright, Walter Cook. She was launched in 1897, from the North Wall Yard, close to the Maldon Hythe Quay. The Dawn was built for the stackie trade, taking hay as horse feed to London and returning with wheat. Stackie barges had a very wide beam so they could carry a stack on deck together [with] a shallow draft to traverse the creeks and [waterways] of the East Anglian farming communities.” In the 1930s, the depression and the development of the lorry trade reduced the demand for hay barges, although some were used during WWII, and a few, including the Dawn, were used as lighters. On her way to evacuate troops from Dunkirk, the Dawn collided with a tug. Used as a timber barge in the 1950s, and then, in 1965, restored and used as a charter boat for birdwatchers, photographers and other tourists. Since deteriorated and needs 250k pounds to make her seaworthy again.

In December,1998, Indiana hay donated for relief of drought and flood stricken Oklahoma farmers was shipped by barge from Mount Vernon.
“Hay has been pledged by more than 1,200 farmers from more than 40 Indiana counties. Three-thousand round hay bales equal more than 200 semi truckloads of hay--presenting the Hoosier Hay Lift with unique delivery challenges. Barges were chosen as the transportation source because each barge can move as many as 30 truckloads of hay at a time. The Ohio/Mississippi River system links southern Indiana to Oklahoma via the Arkansas River…The hay will make an 18- to 20-day journey on the Inland Waterway System to the Port of Muskogee, Okla., where the hay will be offloaded and distributed to farmers… More than 18,000 square bales also will be transported on trucks during the next month to both Oklahoma and Texas.”

Hay database oddities.

Laura Wilson whose grand pictures of Hutterite hay appear in ID 2274-2281 is also the mother of Owen and Luke. Elsewhere in the hay database is a painting by Humphrey Bogart's mother. Is there a pattern here? Some have speculated that little Humphrey was the model for her Little Boy Blue.

Hay festivals.

Amirault's Hill, Yarmouth County
"This one-day festival educates both locals and visitors about the farming practices of the early Acadians. Known for their skill in creating fertile farmland by draining marshlands using a series of dykes known as aboiteau, this Festival demonstrates the traditional Acadian method of harvesting salt hay. Salt hay was so named because the hay took on a salt flavour as it was often under salt water during high tide. Salt hay was said to keep longer and created healthier animals.
"Watch how hay is cut with a scythe, and rolled into a mound. See an elevated platform, called a "straddle" or "staddle" being piled high with salt hay and carefully packed down. A series of logs is then placed over the haystack to protect it from breaking in the wind. The straddle will keep the hay safe and dry and above the high tide waters.
"Following the demonstration, Mass is celebrated on the site of the first Mass celebrated in Amirault's Hill. The evening rounds off with a delicious Acadian supper, and a variety show."

Jenju, Tungshan Township, Taiwan, is said by local residents to be 'the first place in the world to utilize hay as a medium for the creation of works of art. Other than binding hay into bails [sic], as is usual, local farmers have devised a hundred ways of forming the bails and stacks into craftworks that amaze everyone.' See, e.g., ID 2284 in our database.

Among the events held at the Lavallee Centennial Festival in 2004 was a bale-tossing contest.

"A FESTIVAL to celebrate and recognise the age old tradition of hay-making is to take place this weekend in Drumquin, Omagh. The unique festival will look back on the arduous task undertaken by farmers before the advent of silage and round bales. The three day event will run from Friday 23 to Sunday 25, with activities for all members of the family. The highlight of the event will fall on Saturday when the dying art of haymaking will be demonstrated at the GAA grounds." Source: Belfast News Letter (Northern Ireland) July 21, 2004.

At the annual haymaking festival in Rajik, there is a scything competition, in which mowers from all over Europe wear traditional costumes, including straw hats and multicolored, woven bags on their backs. The winner receives a golden scythe.

The Utica, Montana, 'What the Hay' contest won an award for tourist event of the year in 2003. Contestants create hay sculptures which attract visitors from all over the west, as much for their punny titles as their aesthetic appeal. Recently, the noted New York sculptor, Tom Otterness, significantly raised the quality and permanence of the exhibits with his monumental round bale figures.

Hay drying by cocking, tramp-cocking, and rippling.

An 1881 account of several British methods of drying hay was excerpted from the Household Encyclopedia of that year.

Hay humor.

Alimony is like buying hay for a dead horse. Groucho Marx.

“Beef a la mowed: oxen turned out to pasture after the haymaking season.”
C. Grant Loomis. “Traditional American wordplay.” Western Folklore, Vol. 9, No. 2. (Apr., 1950), p. 148.

"'There's nothing like eating hay when you're faint'"…'I didn't say there was nothing better,’ the King replied, ‘I said there was nothing like it.’"Lewis Carroll.

"You will eat, bye and bye, / In that glorious land above the sky; / Work and pray, live on hay, / You'll get pie in the sky when you die. /" Joe Hill.

Kruschev and hay.

An American came as a tourist to the USSR, where he met a Soviet worker who was very poor. The visitor said to the Russian, "Do as I did. I went to the White House in Washington and started eating hay. The President came out and asked why I was doing such a strange thing. I told the President that I was so poor I couldn't afford to buy food. The President helped me, and now I have everything."
The Russian worker went to the Red Square in Moscow and started eating hay. Chairman Khrushchev walked out and asked what was the matter. The worker explained his situation. Khrushchev said, "You better save hay for winter. We expect a hard, cold winter. Now you can eat grass!"

The New York Times Style Magazine, Spring 2006, included the word coinage "locavores": combining "local" and "omnivores" -- "activists who eat not just politically, sustainably and seasonally, but extremely locally. All the foods they consume should be sourced within a 100-mile radius of where they live, as in, 'Locavores are fine and well in Berkeley, but up here in Bismarck, they'd end up eating hay.'" [Amanda Hesser, p. 37]

Hay mythology and proverbs.

"There is an antidote to the calamity of meeting a load of hay—if you turn when it has passed and spit at it all will be well … In Wales we find the superstition is reversed, and a load of hay brings good luck." 1932 C. IGGLESDEN Those Superstitions 106. Cited in the Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions.

"When I first settled in the country I heard that it was the custom that each new rick of hay should be slept on by a young man and a girl, in order to ensure that the hay would prove sweet, and the fiancée pregnant." 1953 R. DUNCAN. Where I Live 123 [Devon] . Cited in the Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions.

"Green gown; to give a girl a" is defined in A Dictionary of Colour: A Lexicon of the Language of Colour by Ian Patterson (London: Thorogood Publishing Ltd, 2004, p. 445). "To have sexual relations with a woman - the green emanating from the grass on which the 'romp in the hay' took place. A slang expression from Elizabethan times."
This expression is also found in Brower's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898).
"Green Gown. A tousel in the new-mown hay. To 'give one a green gown' sometimes means to go beyond the bounds of innocent playfulness.
'Had any dared to give her [Narcissa] a green gown,/The fair had petrified him with a frown… ./Pure as the snow was she, and cold as ice.' Peter Pindar: 'Old Simon.'"
According to a website on wedding traditions, "A green dress is thought to be unlucky unless the bride is Irish. The old expression that a woman has a 'green gown' was used to imply promiscuity, the green meant she had been rolling in grassy fields with other men."
In Robert Herrick's poem "Corinna's Going A Maying" there is another reference to the gown: "And some have wept, and woo'd, and plighted troth,/And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth:/Many a green-gown has been given;/Many a kiss, both odd and even:/Many a glance, too, has been sent/
From out the eye, love's firmament:/Many a jest told of the keys betraying/This night, and locks pick'd:--yet we're not a Maying."

There was a special joy in making hay the old-fashioned way, with horse and cart, rake and fork, working feverishly if the sky began to darken at the approach of a storm. "Nowt makes hay faster than a thunder-clap."
"Letter from the Dales" first published in This is Bradford, 11 Dec 1999

"A Swarm of Bees in May is worth a Cow and a Bottle [bundle] of Hay, whereas a Swarm in July is not worth a Fly." Also, "A Swarm in May is worth a Load of Hay. " Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs.

Haying season and the calendar.

HEYANNIR (July 14 to August 13).
Haymaking: The Old Norse name for this month was heyannir which is translated as "hay-making season" or "haying season."

"All the moneths in the year curse a fair Februeer. s.v. Febrero, When it does not rain in February, there's neither good Grass nor good Rye. If February bring no rain 'Tis neither good for grass nor grain." Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs.


Our first Romanian hay-mate, Anamaria Iuga, is an ethnographer who has collected several myths related to haymaking around Surdesti in the Maramures region. Here are a few of them:

Working with hay is giving rythm to the daily life of Şurdeşti. But one cannot work with hay just anytime, there must be taken into account the holidays which are "angry with the hay."

"While St. Peter walked on earth, there lived in Şurdeşti a very bad man. He didn’t go to church and he didn’t make the sign of cross or taking any notice of the holidays. And this is not all. He urged other people to do as he was doing.
So, once, while St. Peter was walking through the village of Şurdeşti, on a holy Sunday, he saw this man making haystacks. St.Peter got very angry and he cursed the man and transformed the haystacks into rocks. These haystack rocks can be seen even today at the end of Şurdeşti”.
MARIA PODE, IVth form, 2005

On the holiday of Maria Magdalena (22 July) it is "delicate to work with the hay, because it will burn," and along with the barn if it’s put in there, "as it happened to an uncle of mine."
ALEXA FĂT, 78 years, 2006.

"Nor on the days of Ilie (20 July) or Foca (23 July) is it allowed to work with hay: „There was Diacu, a man from our village, he was working with hay at the swamp place as we call it, and it began to rain. And the hay got wet. So Diacu took his wooden pitchfork and said 'Take it and eat it! Take it to your cattle!’. He said this to God Almighty. He said 'Take it to your cattle!’. And then when he went during the winter to take the hay from his fields at his house, there came a wind with whirlwinds, and it took all the hay into the forest, to his cattle. Because the man had said so, take it to your cattle. And God took it there, to the wild goats and that are his cattle. This is the story, as it happened” (ALEXA FĂT, 78 years, 2006).

Shakespearean hay.

Midsummer Night's Dream Act IV Scene I

Methinks I have a great desire to a bottle
of hay: good hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow.

Winters Tale Act IV Scene III

The lark, that tirra-lyra chants,
With heigh! with heigh! the thrush and the jay,
Are summer songs for me and my aunts,
While we lie tumbling in the hay.

King Henry VI Part III Act IV Scene VIII

King Edward IV
And, lords, towards Coventry bend we our course
Where peremptory Warwick now remains:
The sun shines hot; and, if we use delay,
Cold biting winter mars our hoped-for hay.

King Lear Act II Scene IV

'Twas her brother that, in pure
kindness to his horse, buttered his hay.

Macbeth Act I Scene III

First witch
I will drain him dry as hay

Titus Andronicus Act V Scene I

Set fire on barns and hay-stacks in the night,
And bid the owners quench them with their tears.

Hip hop hay.

Amber West referred me to the following Hay lyrics by Crucial Conflict . Interesting that what was called grass in the sixties has now become hay. Go to the full lyrics for all the bawdy details.

Cuz i love to smoke upon hay.
Smokin on
Haaayy in the middle of the barn.
Smokin on
Haaayy in the middle of the barn.
The hay got me goin through a stage
And i just can't get enough.
Smokin everyday
I got some hay
And you know i'm finna roll it up.

Another group, Haystak, has made a few albums having nothing to do with agriculture, among them Car Fulla White Boys.

Peace of hay against the war.

Canadian peace activist Deryk Houston, having created a stone garden sculpture in Baghdad to protest US policies there, designed a much larger image in a cut hayfield in Saanich, British Columbia. Here is his account: 'When the hay was cut and dried, my wife, Elizabeth and I laid out a grid pattern on the field using thin plastic tape in different colours and hundreds of wooden stakes. Friends came to help. We were all thrilled by the beauty of the valley and the scents surrounding us. It took a full day to lay out the grid pattern. Around seven that night, we were exausted from the heat and humidity. I was starting to feel that I had taken on more than I could handle and that we were going to be beaten by time and weather. My thoughts turned to the little boy with leukemia and I continued laying out the sticks with flags that would help us move the hay into position the next day. By 8:00 p.m. the sun was getting low and on the warm breeze we could faintly hear people singing and praying. Against the backdrop of lengthening shadows, the sound drifted across the valley from a little white church nestled in a grove of nearby trees. The next morning at six, we were on the field again. A few hours later we had completed the preparation work needed for the farmer to move the tons of hay with his tractor using the wooden stakes with coloured flags as his guide. The big tractor moved around the field in a delicate dance, shifting the hay into the long rows that formed the design. At the end of the day we had a primitive, mysterious drawing of a Mother and Child formed from the cut and dried, golden hay. Early the next morning as Elizabeth and I walked around the field and quietly surveyed our hard work, we were stopped in our tracks by something totally unexpected. In the silence of the moist hay and the sweet scent of wild roses growing alongside the field, we heard the unmistakable sound of a farm worker chanting an Islamic prayer.'

Strawberries are really hayberries.

"Aelfric translates Latin foenum (faenum) 'hay' by Anglo-Saxon goers or streow, and again by strew (streow, streaw) alone. In other passages, it is impossible to say whether hay or straw is meant, but at least the meaning 'hay' is perfectly established for Anglo-Saxon streaw, and it seems clear that to Aelfric the word strawberry must have meant hayberry. Now the berry that Aelfric knew was the wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca), and the wild strawberry grows chiefly in grassy places and in hay fields. It ripens at the time of the hay
harvest, and the red berries are very frequently found in the stubble under the mown hay. The strawberry is still associated with the raking and the making of the hay in the experience of many a farmer and in the memories of many a farmer's boy, according to abundant testimony. It seems extremely probable that the strawberry received its name in much the same way as the harvest-apple, only more directly, for the strawberry not only ripened at haying, but actually grew under the hay." [Harold H. Bender. "English strawberry," The American Journal of Philology, 55:1 (1934), pp. 71-74]

Haymaking as a dance form.

Pissarro’s dancing haymakers.
“La fenaison en une triomphale après-mini de juin. Lestement des femmes eparpillent, avec des graces de jongleuses, l’herbe desserchee, imponderable, ou l’air vague. Le groupe des femmes a les ondulations, circulaire d’une ronde de sylphides:une fete de tons clairs.” “The rhythmic movement of the peasants tossing hay with their pitchforks evoked the image of a dance.”
Georges Lecomte, quoted in Belinda Thomson’s “Camille Pissarro and symbolism,” The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 124, No. 946. (Jan., 1982), pp. 14-21+23.

Posted by Alan Ritch at 02:03 PM

March 17, 2004

Roles in the hay (play).

Making hay and making out, 17th cent. woodcut (detail) Jorg Breu I. Hay harvest (June), 1521 (detail).The phrase “roll in the hay” is widely understood as a euphemism for making out (or making love), even by those who wouldn’t dream of exposing citified skin to our scratchy rural material. This essay will explore such rolls, from the early 16th century to the 1990s, from a drawing by Altdorfer to eighteenth century naughtiness of Rowlandson and Fragonard, from gentle Victorian flirtations to pinup publicity photographs of Jane Russell and Raquel Welch. Details from two images introduced in our other Roles in the Hay essay show the close relationship of hay with women’s roles, rolls, and rakes: at left, the crowded Jorg Breu 1521 haymaking scene in which women with rakes flirt with rakes; and at right, the crudely carved seventeenth century woodcut, originally captioned "Making hay while the sun shines.” Behind a woman working with a rake another sits by a haycock on a man's lap.

Through the middle of the twentieth century, in Devonshire, there was "a custom that each new rick of hay should be slept on by a young man and a girl, in order to ensure that the hay would prove sweet, and the fiancée pregnant."
1953 R. DUNCAN in the Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions.

Altdorfer, Fragonard and Rowlandson.

Albrecht Altdorfer. Lovers in a hayfield, 1508 drawing (ID 28).
This delicate drawing depicts a couple lying out of sight of a church tower, which looms behind the tall grass, or soon-to-be hay. A clearer, larger image can be found at the Athenaeum web-site, by clicking on the thumbnail.

Jean Honore Fragonard. Love in a stable, 18th cent. drawing (ID 102).
Two bodies, clothed but bare-legged and of uncertain gender, embrace on a bed of hay, while a bovine chews placidly more interested in what they are lying on, than what they are doing on it. The lively brush-strokes add to the excitement. The brush-strokes, hay, etc., are easier to see by zooming in from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco ImageBase.

Jean Honore Fragonard. Jument du compere Pierre, 18th cent. drawing (ID 103).
Another variant on the mildly erotic romp in the hay theme. Evidently a young woman has been discovered by her patron on a hay stack in a barn. Her position and state of undress is, well, compromising, as is the presence of an apparently younger companion. The flowing haystack is a highlit backdrop to the center of the drama. Use the ImageBase zoom to look more closely at the, um, hay.

Thomas Rowlandson. Rural sports, or A pleasant way of making hay, 1814 (ID 139).
The workers have laid down their tools (fork and rake) and are now laying down each other. The foreground is a ribald group writhing and romping together on green hay -- two couples embracing, and two other girls throwing or about to throw bundles of green hay on top of them. In the background more conventional haymaking is being done: a woman with a rake and other figures loading a haycart. A lovely and lively water-colored engraving, blushing pink in all the right places. Use the ImageBase zoom to discover the delightful details.

Altdorfer.  Lovers in a hayfield, 1508 drawing. Fragonard. Love in a stable, 18th cent. drawing. Fragonard. Jument du compere Pierre, 18th cent. drawing. Rowlandson. Rural sports, or A pleasant way of making hay, 1814.

Mild flirtations.

Adriaen van de Velde. Haymakers in a landscape, 17th cent. (ID 72).
A crowded Dutch landscape with a dozen figures, less than half of whom are working. The rest, in a tightly knit group in the foreground are variously flirting, eating, drinking and sleeping.

Francis Wheatley. Hay cart, 1779 (ID 91).
Christiana Payne notes the influence on Wheatley of French pastoral painters such as Bouche and Greuze who saw the 'countryside as a place of relaxation and flirtation' and she astutely discusses the association of haymaking with lovemaking: 'the work was lighter than at corn harvest, there was less danger of the crop being spoilt by such distractions and it was in any case less valuable. Couples [or, in this case, groups in the process of pairing off] often appear in depictions of haymaking, whereas at harvest time the presence of children as gleaners seems to have encouraged artists to concentrate on family groups instead.' (Toil and plenty; images of agricultural landscape in England, 1780-1890.Yale UP, 1993, p. 81)

Edward Ratclyffe. Rest, 1870 engraving (ID 406).
Although the 'Art of the Print' commentary implies that this companion piece to ID 405 is also set in a hay-field, it is obviously a grain harvest scene. The bare arms and low cut dresses of the women would be less appropriate for bundling sheaves and building stooks than for the relaxed flirtation in which they seem to be engaged. Radclyffe completed both works just before his death in 1863. They were first published seven years later.

van de Velde. Haymakers in a landscape, 17th cent. Wheatley. Hay cart, 1779.Ratclyffe. Rest, 1870 engraving.

Heinrich Dahling. At the garden fence, 1820 (ID 1184).
“Placed in a setting filled with moral and actual barriers to the free expression of their physical loove, a young peasant couple engage in their discreet dalliance in the presence of the young man's elderly father.” Brettell, Richard R and Caroline B. Painters and peasants in the nineteenth century. New York, Rizzoli, 1983, p. 113 [color], p.112.

Winslow Homer. Waiting for an answer, 1872 (ID 305).
The scythers in this painting were used in the Harpers engraving of the same year (ID 304), but the original painting and its title tell a different story -- a young woman stands where the children recline in the engraving, and the painted trees and sea become, in the graphic, a more enclosing foliage.

 Dahling. At the garden fence, 1820.Homer. Waiting for an answer, 1872. Homer. Making hay, 1872 engraving.

The pathos of early hay pinups.

Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes. No Habra los ojos, 18th cent. etching (ID 112).
A woman sleeps, with arms evidently tied behind her, on a bed of darkly depicted hay or straw. The chain in the background indicates a prison setting; Goya's title suggests the misery of her plight.

William Palmer. Louisa, the celebrated maid of the haystack, 1788 (ID 94).
An unfortunate, mentally deranged girl of beauty and refinement who was found under a haystack at Flax Bourton, near Bristol [in the west of England]. The hay is as precisely engraved (by P. W. Tomkins, after Palmer) as Louisa's pathetic gaze.

Helen Allingham. Fanny Robin and haystack in Far from the madding crowd, 1874 (ID 370).
Fanny Robin, 'like a bundle of discarded clothing' is slumped on the ground near a large, finely textured hayrick. Near the stack is a fence with an open gate leading to a wood. Hardy's text: 'She opened a gate within which was a haystack. Under this she lay down.' The Victorian Web has a clearer image and thoroughly detailed commentary.

Goya.  No Habra los ojos, 18th cent. etching.  Palmer. Louisa, the celebrated maid of the haystack, 1788. Allingham. Fanny Robin and haystack in Far from the madding crowd, 1874.

Hay as glamour’s counterpoint.

[unknown photographer] Girl on hay rake, 1930-31 (ID 1391).
Library of Congress caption: “Miss Lucile Gates, Pomona, California, seated on horse-drawn hay rake, preparing for America's farm girl competition at the Los Angeles County Fair.” Horse-rakes, like hand-rakes, were designed to be used by a woman or child.

[unknown photographer] Girls hold farm tools, sit on wall of hay, 1936 (ID 1404).
The original caption quoted by Corbis claims that Hynes, California is 'known as the world's largest hay market, where 2,750,000 tons were marketed [in 1935], this Southern California city clebrates with its annaul Hay and Dairy Festival. These pretty farmerettes were snapped during the festivities.'

Organic Gardening cover girl, 1963 (ID 2021).
An early issue of Rodale's Organic Gardening was graced by a woman on top of a stack of haybales. The cover had little to do with the article which it ostensibly illustrated: "Practical hay-making on a small place" involved no balers.

Laura Wilson. Hutterite girls during the haymaking season, 1991 (ID 2274).
The young women of the Hutterite communities of Montana dress conservatively in similar costumes. Their social and economic communitarianism is similarly at odds with the rest of the west. And yet their farm technology is progressive. In spite of the availability of lots of low-cost labor, they invest in the latest, labor-saving equipment, reflected here in the large round bales on which the girls are posed.

 Girl on hay rake, 1930-31. Girls hold farm tools, sit on wall of hay, 1936. Organic Gardening cover girl, 1963. Wilson.  Hutterite girls during the haymaking season, 1991.

George Hurrell. Jane Russell in the hay: publicity shots for The Outlaw, 1943 (ID 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020).
“Howard Hughes's cynically brilliant commodification of Jane Russell's bosom was a triumph of Hollywood marketing and a harbinger of things to come.” (TV Guide) In annointing Russell's hay pose as #9 of the top ten pinups of all time, Retrocrush notes: "Howard Hughes knew what he wanted when he made the film THE OUTLAW in 1943. After a nationwide search for a 'busty actress' he found Jane Russell. The numerous promotional photos of her lounging about in a stack of hay were extremely racy for the time, and helped keep the film banned from most US theaters until 1950! Hughes even had a special bra invented just for Jane to help prop her up even more! Jane used the fame to endorse "Cross Your Heart" bras in the 70s. At 82, Jane Russell is alive and well as one of the last classic pinup gals still around."
Christie’s auctioned off the original poster of the pose last year exactly 60 years after the film opened in SF. Only two copies of the poster had survived, both belonged to the same owner, an 87 year old lady, who destroyed one of them allegedly to enhance the value of the other! The poster sold for 52,875 pounds. (Daily Telegraph March 5, 2003)

 Hurrell. Jane Russell in the hay, 1943. Hurrell. Jane Russell in the hay, 1943. Hurrell. Jane Russell in the hay, 1943. Hurrell. Jane Russell in the hay, 1943.

John Springer. Rosalind Russell in The Women, 1939 (ID 1419).
A few years before Jane Russell played in the hay with Billie the Kid in the Outlaw, a more wholesome Russell, Rosalind, was turned upside down in a stable scene, with hay, in The Women.

[unknown photographer] Raquel Welch in bikini, 1965 (ID 1633).
Bikini-clad Raquel Welch reclines on a prickly bed in this classic hay-related pin-up publicity photo from Hollywood.

Frederique Veysset. Arielle Dombasle, 1995 (ID 1835).
The full caption is 'Arielle Dombasle at home in Paris and in the country' -- the haywagon image is quintessentially 'country' and the actress posing in front of it represents quintessential urban sophistication.

Sebastien Cailleux. Actress Lea Bosco, 1997 (ID 1871).
The actress Lea Bosco sits on a bale near Etretat in Normandie, a conventional pose contrasting glamor and simplicity.
Springer.  Rosalind Russell in The Women, 1939. Raquel Welch in bikini, 1965.  Veysset. Arielle Dombasle, 1995.  Cailleux. Actress Lea Bosco, 1997.

The more-or-less unselfconscious glamour of hay making.

James Sugar. Girl raking hay, Iowa, c 1972 (ID 1654).
Marilyn Zumbach wears a bikini as she rakes hay on her family's farm near Ryan, Iowa.

Dean Conger. Farm workers raking hay, Russia, 1975 (ID 1664).
Women in bikinis rake and fork a hayfield in a modern version of the 19th century women-hay-workers-in-their-finery convention.

Land girls haymaking, 1940s (ID 1911).
This fascinating image was also included in the "wartime" section of the Roles in the Hay (Work) essay. The impractical workwear can be inspected more closely by using the zoom feature at the site .

Peter Johnson, !Kung women carrying hay, [nd] (ID 1929).
!Kung women and girls carry hay-bundles of various sizes along a Kalahari trail. The notorious National Geographic Magazine topless tradition, exemplified in this image, has been less evident in recent years, perhaps less because of a change in editorial policy than because of the globalization of clothing mores.

 Sugar. Girl raking hay, Iowa, c 1972.  Conger. Farm workers raking hay, Russia, 1975.Land girls haymaking, 1940s.  Johnson, !Kung women carrying hay, [nd].

Costumes of women haymakers.

Francois-Hippolyte Lalaisse. Paysannes ramassant du foin, c 1843 (ID 690).
This documentary image subordinates the record of the actual work of haymaking to the costume of the women haymakers.

Paul Gauguin. Round dance of the Breton girls, 1888 (ID 603).
Gauguin's setting is a generic hay-field, but the costume and the young women's dance are ethnographically specific.

Lalaisse. Paysannes ramassant du foin, c 1843. Gauguin. Round dance of the Breton girls, 1888.

Paul Gauguin. Woman in the hay with pigs, 1888 (ID 605).
Gauguin's famous but mysterious pig-kicking woman sacrifices practicality for decorative sensuality. Although her bonnet is undoubtedly Breton, her bare back and breast are the stuff that Gauguin's Tahitian dreams are made of.

Andre Dunoyer de Segonzac. Moissoneuse debout, 1935 etching (ID 938).
Although the crop is more likely to be a cereal than hay, the costume of the female sickler is so implausible that she can't be excluded from this essay.

Gauguin. Woman in the hay with pigs, 1888. Dunoyer de Segonzac.  Moissoneuse debout, 1935.

Roger Wood. Kurdish women, 1968 (ID 1642).
There is no evidence here of the historic or future geopolitical turmoil tragically associated with the stateless Kurdish people. Instead we are shown conventional elements of exotic ethnography: vernacular architecture, costume, and ... haystacks.

Keren Su. Two elderly Miao women, c 1997 (ID 1872).
Two Miao women sit on a haycock, near Kaili, China, providing another variant on the picturesque woman and hay portrait.

Nazima Kowall. Farmers resting during hay harvest, [nd] (ID 1939).
A Khasi family rests 'during hay harvest' or, more likely, given the pattern of stubble on the ground, the rice harvest, near Sumer, Meghalaya.

Wood. Kurdish women, 1968.  Su. Two elderly Miao women, c 1997. Kowall.  Farmers resting during hay harvest, [nd].

Three ages of women in the hay

Frederick Morgan. Midday rest, 1879 (ID 429).

A charming if sentimental painting shows three generations of women resting next to a haycock under a bright midday sun. An old woman with a white bonnet is offering bread to a small barefoot girl who seems to be looking for permission towards a beautiful dark-haired young woman. The hay and the foliage behind are brilliantly rendered.

Laura Wilson. Hutterite girls during the haymaking season, 1991 (ID 2274).
The young women of the Hutterite communities of Montana dress conservatively in similar costumes. Their social and economic communitarianism is similarly at odds with the rest of the west. And yet their farm technology is progressive. In spite of the availability of lots of low-cost labor, they invest in the latest, labor-saving equipment, reflected here in the large round bales on which the girls are posed.
Morgan. Midday rest, 1879. Wilson.  Hutterite girls during the haymaking season, 1991.

Posted by Alan Ritch at 04:28 PM

March 15, 2004

Roles in the hay (work).

Roles in the hay, rolls in the hay, women and rakes.

Making hay and making out, 17th cent. woodcut The purpose of this essay is primarily to explore aspects of gender related to hay, primarily the “role” that women have evidently played in its production, especially during the long pre-mechanized phase when hay was mowed, tossed, moved and stacked by hand and in the many regions where balers are still unaffordable.

Julien Dupre. Repos, after 1880. In most pictures of most times and places, women are associated with a single tool, the rake, used for moving drying grass along the ground or tossing hay just above it. Occasionally, perhaps increasingly, they are shown using forks, but generally the work of pitching the hay onto a wagon or stack is reserved for taller, stronger men. While women are sometimes shown using sickles in grain-harvest scenes, they are almost never associated with scythes. The image at right is one of several fine women haymakers by Julien Dupre, courtesy of the Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City.

Haymaking & harvesting, from a French 15th cent. ms., Keble College, Oxford (ID 1623).
Haymaking and harvesting, from a French 15th cent. ms., Keble College, Oxford.

Statistics and generalities.

By early March, 2004, the database of hay images included 143 showing women helping make hay. Of these, 92 showed women using rakes, another 18 showed women using rakes and forks in the same scene, 15 showed women using forks, 3 showed women handling hay without tools, one woman using a sickle, and one highly stylized sculpture of a woman using a scythe. Another 13 images showed women transporting hay, in all but one case carrying it in bundles or bales. Before Dupre’s hay making scenes of the late 19th century, women are shown with rakes in about 50 images, and with forks in only four. Here are the exceptions:
Peter Paul Rubens. Return from the harvest (detail), 1635 (ID 54).
Robert Hills. Studies of haymakers, 1810 (ID 136).
Anonymous study of haymaking in the Pyrenees, 1834 (ID 148).
Winslow Homer. Girl with pitchfork, 1867 (ID 1182).
 Rubens. Return from the harvest (detail), 1635. Hills.  Studies of haymakers, 1810. Anonymous study of haymaking in the Pyrenees, 1834.Homer. Girl with pitchfork, 1867.

Since the nineteenth century sketches are evidently spontaneous illustrations of real life, we cannot infer conclusively an invariable division of labor between men who used forks and women who used rakes; but we can more confidently assert that, from medieval illuminations to the late 19th century, most hay artists chose to emphasize that division.

Harvest time in Romania, 1920s photog.Barry Lewis. Gathering hay, Romania, 1995 photog.About a third of the women and hay images are photographs, roughly corresponding to the ratio of these images to non-photographs in the whole database. The photographs imply a shift in women’s roles from rakers to forkers, from a ratio of about 10 to 1 in the non-photographic images to less than 3 to 1 in the photographs. At left, the jolly haymaking scene in Romania soon after the first World War shows a group of men and women in ethnic costume, laughing as they rest on a pile of hay. The group and its long-handled implements are as carefully posed as those in Stubbs' hay paintings: men at either end are adjusting or sharpening their scythes; in the center an older man also holds a scythe; a young woman and a girl hold wooden rakes; and an older woman holds a more modern four-tined metal fork. At right, another Romanian hay scene, 80 years later shows two women, one with a rake and the other with a fork, in similarly formal poses.

A more obvious shift in the content of the photographic imagery is noticeable. Only one painting of a woman transporting hay was found, a work by Julien Dupre of a girl carrying a bundle of hay along a lane in front of a herd of cows. But there are twelve photographs on this theme in the database. Photographers tend to focus on women with huge hay-bundles, unless, like Lehman, they find interesting tension between the traditional (a Purepecha woman in regional dress) and modern (her alfalfa bale and the hay-truck in the background). James Ravilious is more straightforward in his documentation of work on a Devon, England farm in the 1970s, when a woman and children bring in the bales with a tractor.

Julien Dupre. Returning from the fields, 1895 (ID 621) courtesy of the Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City.
Ted Spiegel. French woman carrying hay, 1969 photog. (ID 1648).
Dupre. Returning from the fields, 1895 . Spiegel. French woman carrying hay, 1969 photog.

Danny Lehman. Purepecha woman carrying alfalfa bale, 1995 photog. (ID 1853).
James Ravilious. Woman driving a tractor on a farm, 1976 photog. (ID 1667).
Lehman. Purepecha woman carrying alfalfa bale, 1995 photog. Ravilious. Woman driving a tractor on a farm, 1976 photog.

Women rakers in frescos, miniatures and other manuscripts.

Women appear occasionly in late medieval haying scenes, most famously in the June page of the book of hours of the Duc de Berry, but also, below, in: an Italian fresco; in an early sixteenth century calendar leaf by Simon Bening from the British Library; and in a Jorg Breu round painting, from the National Gallery of Art, which has six women holding rakes and at least two of them flirting with, well, "rakish" looking fellows!

Limbourg Brothers. Book of Hours. June (detail), 1440 (ID 9).
Fresco, Castello del Buonconsiglio, Trento, c 1400 (ID 1595).
Simon Bening. Haymaking, c 1510 (ID 23).
Jorg Breu I. Hay harvest (June), 1521 (ID 29).
Limbourg Brothers. Book of Hours. June (detail), 1440Fresco, Castello del Buonconsiglio, Trento, c 1400.Simon Bening. Haymaking, c 1510.Jorg Breu I. Hay harvest (June), 1521.

Women raking in Bruegel’s Haymaking.

Bruegel's wonderful panorama of haymaking in a multi-levelled, multi-layered landscape works as a unified composition but can also be read as a series of vignettes, three of which, each containing a woman raker in a field of haycocks, are shown below.
Pieter Bruegel. Details from Haymaking, 1565 (ID 2014, 2015, 2016).
Bruegel.  Haymaking (detail), 1565. Bruegel.  Haymaking (detail), 1565. Bruegel.  Haymaking (detail), 1565.

Trios by Bruegel and Rubens: six rakes and two forks.

In Bruegel’s painting three women are all carrying rakes; in the 1635 Rubens, one of them carries a fork. The detail of Rubens' Landschaft mit den Regenbogen (Landscape with the rainbow) shows a man, obviously flirting, pushing himself and a fork between two women; another woman on the golden stack at the foot of the rainbow is working with a rake.

Pieter Bruegel. Haymaking (detail), 1565 (ID 2013).
Peter Paul Rubens. Return from the harvest, 1635 (ID 54).
Rubens, Landschaft mit den Regenbogen (detail), 1637 (ID 55).
Bruegel.  Haymaking (detail), 1565. Rubens. Return from the harvest, 1635 (ID 54).Rubens. Landschaft mit den Regenbogen (detail), 1637.

Three Stubbs poses of women with rakes: changing the angle of the pose.

In the 1785 Hay Carting (ID 76), the rakes and forks are tools not just to move the hay but to stabilize and formalize the main pictorial elements into a serene triangle. The 1794 delicate ceramic painting (ID 77) retains the central woman's original pose, but changes the activities behind her to scything and tedding. In the 1795 version (ID 78), the woman, no longer facing the observer, is vigorously using her rake on a pile of sunlit hay; but her companions retain the poses and positions of the earlier work.

George Stubbs. Hay carting, 1785 (ID 76).
George Stubbs. Hay carting, 1794 (ID 77).
George Stubbs. Hay carting, 1795 (ID 78).
Stubbs. Haymaking, 1785.Stubbs. Haymaking, 1794. Stubbs. Haymaking, 1795.

Nineteenth century women with rakes: realism to impressionism.

All the elements of the early nineteenth century haymaking genre are in the Wilson painting, at left below: men on top of a loaded wagon up to its axles in hay; horses posed at various angles; children sitting on the hay with their mother; a wealthy looking rider and a dog; well dressed women watching, and equally well-dressed women raking. The far simpler Venetsianov peasant portrait shows a woman carrying two tools, the familiar rake in front and the exceptional scythe behind. Hicks' subject is an action portrait of a different class of female haymaker, wearing a pink, ruffled bonnet. She is so close to the observer that, for the rake, only the handle is visible. Under the shadow of her bonnet she is pink-faced but serenely smiling.

John James Wilson. Haymaking, 19th cent., (ID 419).
Alexei Venetsianov. Peasant woman with scythe and rake, c 1825 (ID 778).
George Elgar Hicks. Haymaker raking, 1863 (ID 386).
Wilson. Haymaking, 19th cent. Venetsianov. Peasant woman with scythe and rake, c 1825.Hicks. Haymaker raking, 1863.

Cameron's portrait of two women carrying rakes "to the hay" is even further from the realism of rural work. Like the two impressionist works by Dessar, one of several Americans who settled in Giverny in the 1880s and 1890s, they celebrate female beauty in a romanticized rural world. Homer's 1878 watercolor is realistic in theme and impressionistic in treatment. Although the quick strokes enhance the summery effect, they are also precise enough to depict clearly the the curved frame on the rake handle. The first Dessar shows 'haystacks' (more likely 'stooks' – or French 'desmoiselles') in a grain-field. Nevertheless, we include it here for the foreground figure of a woman with a rake on her shoulder. The second painting also has a woman with a rake, here seated in the shade with her tool on the ground. She is half-turned away from the observer towards some authentic haycocks to the right.

Hugh Cameron. Going to the hay, 1858 (ID 1185).
Winslow Homer. Girl with hay rake, 1878 (ID 311).
Louis Paul Dessar. Peasant woman and haystacks, Giverny, 1892 (ID 348).
Louis Paul Dessar. Summer sunlight, 1894 (ID 349).
Cameron. Going to the hay, 1858.Homer. Girl with hay rake, 1878.Dessar. Peasant woman and haystacks, Giverny, 1892. Dessar. Summer sunlight, 1894.

French nineteenth century women rakers.

In the Millet on the left below, a woman is raking hay towards two men who are busily gathering bundles (bottles), precursors of our machine-made bales. In the background, piled to the top edge of the frame are large stacks of loose hay. Van Gogh's version is a similar pose in a simpler composition. Julien Dupre's young woman raker is far more forceful than the others in this row as she moves the hay to the male botteleurs. Notice that the shape of the rake’s handle resembles a fork, an ambiguity which confuses our division of labor and the identification of several of the tools thrust deep into the hay by the hands of Dupre’s powerful heroines.

Jean-Francois Millet. Les Botteleurs du foin, 1850 (ID 457).
Vincent Van Gogh. Woman with rake, after Millet, 1889 (ID 759).
Julien Dupre. Foins, after 1880 (ID 632) courtesy of the Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City.
 Millet. Les Botteleurs du foin, 1850.Van Gogh. Woman with rake, after Millet, 1889.  Dupre. Foins, after 1880.

Dupre’s heroic women and their rakes.

Dupre’s subjects are unusual in several respects. More than those of any other hay artist so far discovered his paintings shows women vigorously heaving hay off the ground, with both forks and rakes. Some of these paintings are vaguely titled with the generic "moisson" and one erroneous "wheatfield," but all are obviously meant to depict glamorously beautiful women in colorful clothes tossing hay with masculine energy. Seen in a row, they can be read almost as frames in documentary movie.

Julien Dupre. Haying, after 1880 (ID 628) courtesy of the Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City.
Julien Dupre. Temps de moisson, after 1880 (ID 629) courtesy of the Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City.
Julien Dupre. Moisson, after 1880 (ID 623) courtesy of the Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City.
Julien Dupre. Faneuse, after 1880 (ID 625) courtesy of the Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City.
Julien Dupre. Wheatfield, 1893 (ID 620) courtesy of the Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City.
Dupre. Haying, after 1880. Dupre. Temps de moisson, after 1880. Moisson, after 1880. Dupre. Faneuse, after 1880.Dupre. Wheatfield, 1893.

Julien Dupre. Fenaison, after 1880 (ID 630) courtesy of the Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City.
Julien Dupre. Harvesters loading the cart, after 1880 (ID 631) courtesy of the Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City.
Julien Dupre. Recolte des foins, 1881 (ID 615) courtesy of the Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City.
Dupre. Fenaison, after 1880.  Dupre. Harvesters loading the cart, after 1880.Dupre. Recolte des foins, 1881.

Dupre’s women at rest with rakes.

Moments of tranquility are rare in the Dupre hay paintings. And even when his women rest, their rakes are not far away.

Julien Dupre. Moment's rest, after 1880 (ID 626) courtesy of the Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City.
Julien Dupre. Repos dans les champs, 1887 (ID 619) courtesy of the Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City.
Julien Dupre. Dejeuner des faneuses, after 1880 (ID 624) courtesy of the Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City.
Dupre. Moment's rest, after 1880.  Dupre. Repos dans les champs, 1887.  Dupre. Dejeuner des faneuses, after 1880.

Gauguin's faneuses.

The following trio of French haymaking scenes, also painted in the 1880s, and also dominated by women, could not be more distant, culturally and stylistically from the Dupre series. Gauguin is concerned less with the work and tools of haying and the gender of the haymakers than with the decorative contrast between the black-and-white Breton costumes of the women and the golden fields and stacks which frame them.

Paul Gauguin. Haymakers, 1889 (ID 607).
Paul Gauguin. Haymaking in Britanny, 1889 (ID 608).
Paul Gauguin. Meules jaunes, 1889 (ID 610).

Gauguin. Haymakers, 1889. Gauguin. Haymaking in Britanny, 1889. Gauguin. Meules jaunes, 1889 .

Pissarro's faneuses: thirty years of women haymakers.

Like that of his American contemporary, Martin Johnson Heade, Camille Pissarro's crop of hay images (56) is large enough to deserve a separate essay. But over one-third of this collection (21) depicts women making, carrying or stacking hay. Chronologically (1874 to 1901) and stylistically (realism to post-impressionism) Pissarro's haymaking overlaps that of Dupre and Gauguin. His technical versatility is mirrored by the range of the activities of his subjects. So a representative Pissarro gallery of faneuses must be included here.

Camille Pissarro. Femme ratissant du foin (Woman raking hay), 1874 lithograph (ID 486).
Camille Pissarro. Femmes portant du foin, 1874 lithograph (ID 487).
Camille Pissarro. Harvest at Montfoucault, 1876 (ID 489).
Pissarro.  Femme ratissant du foin (Woman raking hay), 1874. Pissarro. Femmes portant du foin, 1874. Pissarro. Harvest at Montfoucault, 1876.

Camille Pissarro. Tedder, 1884 (ID 503).
Camille Pissarro. Tedders, 1884 watercolor (ID 504).
Camille Pissarro. Haymakers at Eragny, 1889 (ID 507).
Camille Pissarro. Paysanne a la fourche, 1889 (ID 508).
Pissarro.  Tedder, 1884. Pissarro. Tedders, 1884. Pissarro. Haymakers at Eragny, 1889.Pissarro. Paysanne a la fourche, 1889.

Camille Pissarro. Faneuses, 1890 etching (ID 510).
Camille Pissarro. Three women resting, 1890 watercolor (ID 511).
Camille Pissarro. Haymakers, evening, Eragny, 1890 (ID 512).
Pissarro. Faneuses, 1890. Pissarro. Three women resting, 1890. Pissarro. Haymakers, evening, Eragny, 1890.

Camille Pissarro. Haymaking, 1895 gouache (ID 518).
Camille Pissarro. Faneuses d'Eragny, 1896 lithograph (ID 522).
Camille Pissarro. Faneuses d'Eragny, 1897 etching (ID 523).
Pissarro. Haymaking, 1895. Pissarro. Faneuses d'Eragny, 1896. Faneuses d'Eragny, 1897.

Camille Pissarro. Hay harvest at Eragny, 1901 (ID 529).
Camille Pissarro. Peasant with a pitchfork, 1901 (ID 530).
Camille Pissarro. Haymaking in Eragny, 1901 (ID 531).
Pissarro. Hay harvest at Eragny, 1901. Pissarro. Peasant with a pitchfork, 1901. Pissarro. Haymaking in Eragny, 1901.

Russian roles and Soviet styles: realism and modernism.

The first pair of images typify the social realism (or determined optimism) of postwar Soviet recovery. Sunnily impressionist in their dappled light effects, they exploit what M. C. Bown terms "metaphors of renewal." Plastov's painting won the Stalin Prize in 1946 by showing the effects of war (only boys, women and old men survive to work in the fields) while implying a golden future. However the actual work is not clearly documented: the tools seem to be rakes, but the flowery field has yet to be mowed. Milnikov's title is more overtly allegorical, but his women carrying rakes to or from the hayfield echo a theme we have noted above in Bruegel, Rubens, Winslow Homer and others. As in Plastov's work, the absence of young men reflects the devastation of war, while the bright style encourages the survivors to move forward to blissful peace and prosperity.

Arkadi Plastov. Haymaking, 1945 (ID 960).
Andrei Milnikov. In peaceful fields, 1950 (ID 974).
Plastov. Haymaking, 1945. Milnikov. In peaceful fields, 1950.

The following group of women haymaking images reflects some of the complexity and contradictions of Soviet painting. Basmanov's expressionist trio from the eve of the World War II represents three archetypal activities of women in the hayfields: raker, water-carrier, and forker, while at left behind them are equally simplified shapes suggesting haycocks. Thirty years later, the Latvian Ozols has a more realistic portrait of a woman haymaker reminiscent of the nineteenth century Venetsianov, but with a busy, equally documentary background of haycocks and other workers. Finally, the late Soviet Tatarnikov depicts a voluptuous woman with a rake standing incongruously in an uncut field too golden to be potential hay. The lively clouds and flowing grass recall the style of such American regionalists as Thomas Hart Benton.

Pavel Basmanov. On the hay making, 1939 (ID 946).
Vilis Ozols. Haymaking, 1970 (ID 989).
Oleg Tatarnikov. Haymaking time, 1985 (ID 1005).
Basmanov.  On the hay making, 1939. Ozols.  Haymaking, 1970. Tatarnikov. Haymaking time, 1985.

Photographs of women with rakes: from static pose to action shot.

The shapes of women and their rakes in the works of most hay artists seem like tranquil triangles, even before pioneer photographers had to pose men and women statically with their implements to avoid the blur of movement. More recently, twentieth century cameras allowed action shots of women working energetically, with rakes or forks. Below, an intriguing, anonymous image, entitled "Pitching hay on holiday" is focused on women happily using pitchforks on their vacation, even before the war when many of their gender would be for more urgent reasons keeping farms productive. To the left of this are two illustrations of blur, the first presumably unintentional -- Sydney Newton's formal pose of Edwardian haymakers, in which the youngest of the four figures standing still for the slow film fidgets itself into blurred gender -- and the second by the famous Irish dramatist Synge perhaps to emphasize the action. To the right, Ted Spiegel's fine quintet of rakes, held by a woman and four children radiate like solar rays, from the pile of hay they're tedding. The latter's energetic action, bright color and opportunistic composition would have been impossible in the earlier days of documentary photography.

Sydney Newton. Agricultural workers, Northants, England, 1904 photog. (ID 1345).
John Millington Synge. Haymaking at Castle Kevin, Co Wicklow, c 1900 (ID 1328).
[unknown photographer] Pitching hay on holiday, 1937 (ID 1415).
Ted Spiegel. Raking hay into piles, Iceland, 1968 photog. (ID 1641).
Sydney Newton. Agricultural workers, Northants, England, 1904 photog.Synge. Haymaking at Castle Kevin, Co Wicklow, c 1900.  Pitching hay on holiday, 1937. Ted Spiegel. Raking hay into piles, Iceland, 1968 photog.

The effect of war on women's work in the hay.

Cheerful propaganda showing how well women perform manual or technical tasks when men are away at war included images intended to boost morale on the home-front. So-called “landgirls” or "farmerettes" (rural Rosie-the-riveters) did whatever it takes, not just raking, to harvest the hay in the absence of enough males, either during wars which took the men away for years or in their aftermath (literally "after mowing") which took them away for ever. The Landgirls in the first picture are obviously intended to serve as pinups more than peasants, their bikinis hardly practical in the prickly hay. The young girls in the center, evacuees from the city, seem oblivious to the battles in which Britain was engaged in 1941. The Bavarian women make hay in the traditional style near the end of the war, against signs of modernity which promise reconstruction and renewal. The first of the following "aftermath" trio of images shows a German hayfield from the 1920s full of heavily dressed women filling in for the men lost in the Great War. In the second, a woman bundles a hay-like material in a Japanese farmyard. The third, a postwar image from Hanover is notable both for the unusual mix of draft-animals -- both oxen and horses are harnessed to the hay wagons -- and for the number of women at work. Of the thirteen figures, at least eleven are female, a stark reflection of the shortage of male labor in the postwar period. Compare these relatively matter-of-fact documentary photographs with the Soviet paintings, earlier in this essay, on similar themes.

Landgirls haymaking, England, 1940s (ID 1911).
Girls pull cart of hay and goat, England, 1941 (ID 1427).
Haystacks in Bavaria, 1945 (ID 1445).
Landgirls haymaking, England, 1940s photog. Girls pull cart of hay and goat, England, 1941 photog. Haystacks in Bavaria, 1945 photog.

Farmerettes harvesting hay, Germany, 1929 (ID 1389)
Horace Bristol. Farm woman bundling hay, Japan, c 1945 (ID 1446).
Hay loads, Germany, 1947 (ID 1451).
Farmerettes harvesting hay, Germany, 1929 photog. Horace Bristol. Farm woman bundling hay, Japan, c 1945 photog. Hay loads, Germany, 1947 photog.

Men's forks and women's rakes survive.

In each of the following quartet of images from four different decades and four different countries, the work relationship is similar: men lift hay on their forks, and women rake hay along the ground. The Italian image, from about 1910, is particularly striking -- the pitched hay, posed against the sky like palm-trees, is balanced on forks which have to be held vertically to obey the tardy shutterspeed. The others, while more dynamic in their activity, illustrate the durability of custom both in the style of hay and the division of labor.

[unknown photographer] Farmers stacking hay, Italy, c 1910 (ID 1361).
[unknown photographer] Verge side hay, England, 1957 (ID 1588).
David Houser. Farmers harvest hay, Finland, c 1988 (ID 1721).
Raymond Gehman. Farmer and wife raking hay, Poland 1993 (ID 1819).
Farmers stacking hay, Italy, c 1910. Verge side hay, England, 1957. David Houser. Farmers harvest hay, Finland, c 1988. Raymond Gehman. Farmer and wife raking hay, Poland, 1993

Kevin Fleming. Amish woman raking hay, 1975 (ID 1659).
The concluding image of our essay confirms the triumph of tradition, even with a shift in technology. One of the most culturally conservative ethnic groups in North America, the Amish, is well-known for its dependence on literal horse-power. The horse-drawn rake, invented in the nineteenth century to make the creation and tedding of windrows more efficient, was designed with easy-to-shift levers and gears which allowed women to continue their conventional role in the hay, even while sitting down on the job.

Fleming.  Amish woman raking hay, 1975.

A companion essay, Roles in the hay (play), shows women in various sexual romps (with another kind of rake!) and in glamorous poses, presumably appealing because of our time-honored association of hay with soft intimacy.

Posted by Alan Ritch at 05:48 PM