Cutting grass for hay – 1920s-30s

At Market Lavington Museum we have many photographs of haystacks, but not of the earlier stage of cutting and turning the long grass. We do, however, have Mrs Sybil Perry’s handwritten memories of the process in the late 1920s and early 1930s, when she was young Sybil Baker. She wrote ‘I remember hurrying home from school and asking my my mother to cut me some bread, butter and jam sandwiches, and, taking a bottle of lemonade, I would meet my friends and we would run to the hayfield. The farmer did not mind us in the field as long as we kept out of the way of the machinery and the men working, so we would sit by the edge of the field and watch the activity.

A horse-drawn cutter with two long blades would cut the grass and leave it strewn over the ground. When enough grass had been mown, the horse-drawn hay sweep would start work. This implement had long wooden tines, steel-tipped and about thirty in all, fixed to a horizontal bar which rotated, and the tines slid under the hay as the horse pulled the hay sweep along. The hay was pushed against a metal frame at the back and when it could hold no more the tines were raised and the hay dropped in a compact linear heap on the ground.’

In the absence of pictures of these two horse-drawn implements, we will share the coloured picture of a haymaking scene, which Sybil stuck in her memories file.

We will continue Sybil’s account of haymaking next time.

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