Friday, April 6, 2012

A dump rake at Bartley Ranch loop trail

This dump rake can be seen on a walk along a loop trail at the historic Bartley Ranch in Reno, Nevada. Dump rakes were used to build windrows of cut hay. Arranged in such rows or lines, the hay was left to dry in the wind (if not too strong) before it was combined, piled and taken to the barn.

The interpretive panel next to the dump rake tells us that simple machines of this kind came into use in the 1860s. The panel also provides us with an idea of how the hay was treated after drying in the windrows:

[...] it was either raked by hand into piles and pitchforked into wagons or it was lifted or thrown onto huge haystacks using some type of derrick or boom. In later years a hay loader was pulled behind the wagon and hay was then taken to the stack or barn. In the West, stacks were more common than barns due to the long distances between hay fields and the home place.
Dump rakes probably “evolved” from the early method of simply using tree branches to gather straw and hay. The hay rake above has a seat mounted over the two-wheeled rake. While pulled by a horse across a field of cut hay, “the driver”—repeating the words of the panel—“would dump [the rake] at intervals using either the hand or foot release lever to create windrows.”

Keywords: history, farm equipment, harvest, interpretive trail.

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