Gathering Tools
Sickle Bar Mower

Well, we started buying tools for haymaking on our own this weekend - the photo above shows a 1910 McCormick-Deering No. 7 Sickle Bar Mower. It was originally designed to be pulled by horses, but somebody has put a tongue for a tractor on it - and painted it as a yard ornament. But it's still in fine mechanical condition, and should do quite nicely across our more or less level pastures. Believe it or not, parts are still made for this mower - it's quite popular with our Amish friends.

Next step is a tractor - we'll also need a rake and a baler. It's the latter that actually concerns me most - they're notoriously twitchy and tough to keep running, so we'll have to be very careful there.

We've been way too dependent on friends and neighbors to cut our hay - this has got to stop. Our pasture still isn't cut this year, and there's a lot of waste out there! Can't stand it! Freeman Dyson (the physicist) was right:

The most important invention of the last two thousand years was hay. In the classical world of Greece and Rome and in all earlier times, there was no hay. Civilization could exist only in warm climates where horses could stay alive through the winter by grazing. Without grass in winter you could not have horses, and without horses you could not have urban civilization. Some time during the so-called dark ages, some unknown genius invented hay, forests were turned into meadows, hay was reaped and stored, and civilization moved north over the Alps. So hay gave birth to Vienna and Paris and London and Berlin, and later to Moscow and New York.

Update: I (and Mr. Dyson) stand corrected.

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