The 2017 event took on a decidedly Western
theme as it traveled to southeastern Idaho.
When Rusty Shippley reached out to me from the American Brabant Association, he said they thought it would be a good idea to try the annual Brabant gathering out West. The group wanted to share the excellence of the Brabant horse with a broader group of people. The last few years, we have made a big effort to preserve and maintain some of the traditions of putting up hay the old fashioned way, so we thought why not give it a try. I asked him what he thought about having a good old-fashioned hay day out West. He thought this would be a perfect setting to gather some of the enthusiasts that might have interest in the Brabant horse. With this conversation, the stage was set and we decided to go for it. Over the next few months many people undertook a flurry of tasks. We planned meals, repaired equipment and reached out to others.
The gathering featured the expertise of Daryl Woolstenhulme. Daryl is an expert in the use of mowers, the over shot stacker, the buck rack (sometimes called the bull rake) and the dump rake. Daryl has spent about 20 years in the Bear lake Valley of southeastern Idaho, where he has maintained a large herd of draft horses and preserved the oral traditions and techniques regarding the methods of putting up hay with horses. Over the last few decades, Daryl has broke and sold dozens of horse teams throughout the Rocky Mountains. What an opportunity it was to learn firsthand from such a great guy who carries so much passion for the ways of the American West.
We also had the pleasure of hosting Marvin Brisk from Midway, Ore., who brought a few pieces of unique equipment. With the help of a Brabant filly, Marvin demonstrated the use of a horse-powered crosscut saw. He also showed a stationary bale press, which he explained would have been used for compressing hay and loading train cars enabling people to fit more tonnage in a limited rail car. Barbeque meals where served out of an antique chuck wagon restored by Dave Genetti of Ririe, Idaho. Dave also assisted us with a beautifully restored McCormick Deering four bar side delivery rake.
Although the American Brabant Association sponsored the event, we received lots of help from many types of horses. At one point, we had five mowers going simultaneously. What an incredible sight to see a 25-foot swath of lush tall mountain grass falling victim to the collective efforts of our horse power.
The mowers used were a McCormick number seven, McCormick number nine and even a John Deere number four. All in all, the day was a great success, and we got a very good start on our loose haystack. We stacked approximately five to seven tons of hay and formed a great base for our loose haystack. Daryl teaches that with good teams and a good crew you can put up a loose stack like this in one day. Using this overshot stacker (overland roller) on its highest setting, you can reach nearly 20 feet high. In a properly formed stack, there can be approximately 20 tons of hay. This particular overshot stacker, as well as the buck rake, were both original pieces of equipment belonging to ancestors here on our farm. With the help of my dad and boys, we restored these to functionality. My kids will be the sixth generation from our original ancestors to live here.