Moving the hay to make a rick

Livestock farmers depended on their hay crop for feeding the animals through the winter. Once the hay had dried thoroughly in the hay field, it would need moving to the most convenient place for winter feeding, so might have been made into a rick in the barn yard or out in a field.

Hay making in the past was labour intensive as only a small quantity could be moved at a time with A pitchfork. Our photo of the Lush family haymaking on Salisbury Plain in the 1890s shows the sort of cart used to transport the hay once loaded.

Sybil Perry wrote about her memories of this from the 1920s and 30s. ‘Next came a man in charge of a horse and cart – sometimes two horses to one cart according to the expected load. Men with pitch-forks would transfer the hay onto the cart and another man on the cart loaded it correctly so that it would not fall off when the cart moved. The pitchers worked on both sides of the cart. The horse, with a full load of hay, would then be led by the carter to the farm yard, or spot in the field where the ricks were going to be made.’

This view from Market Lavington’s church tower shows many ricks both in the yard and out in the fields at Knapp Farm.

Next time we will consider the early stages of building a rick.

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