The time of mowing grass for hay, ought to be regulated according to its growth and maturity; for it is extremely detrimental to a crop, to cut it too early ; because the sap has not sufficiently circulated through the whole blade of grass; so that the latter, when made into hay, shrinks and considerably diminishes in bulk. It is, however, equally prejudicial to the grass, if it be suffered to stand till it shed its seeds. When the tops of the grass appear brown, it will then be tit for being mowed.
The chief object in making hay, is to preserve the vegetable juices : with this design, different methods have been adopted, of which we shall notice the principal.
In the county of Middlesex, whence the London markets are chiefly supplied with hay, all the grass mowed on the first day, before nine o'clock in the morning, is tedded, that is, uniformly spread over the meadow, divided as much as possible, and well turned, before twelve o'clock, and perhaps a second time in the afternoon. It is then raked into wind-rows, and formed into small cocks.
On the second day,' the grass mown the preceding day after nine o'clock, and what is cut on this day before that time, is tedded, and treated in the manner above described. Previously to turning the grass of the second day's work, the small cocks thrown up on the preceding day are well shaken out into straddles, or separate plats, five or six yards square. If the crop be so thin as to leave large spaces between the plats, they ought to be raked clean. The next business is, to turn the plats, and also the grass cut on the second day, which is generally done before one o'clock, in order that all the grass which is mowed may be drying while the people are at dinner. In the afternoon, the straddles or plats are raked into double wind-rows; the grass into single ones; and the hay is thrown up into field-cocks of a middling size, also called bastard-cocks ; the grass is then cocked, as on the preceding clay.
Similar operations are succe sively performed on the third day; the bay in bastard-cocks is again spread into straddles, and the whole is turned previously to the people going to dinner. Should the weather have proved fine and warm, the hay that was made into bastard-cocks on the second evening, will, in the afternoon of the third day, be lit to be housed. On the fourth day, the hay is put into stacks. - This method has, from experience, proved very successful, especially in favourable weather.
According to Dr. Anderson's plan, the grass is to be cut only when it is perfectly dry, without spreading it out into swaths, wind-rows, etc. or tedding it, as is the general practice. Immediately after it is mowed, it is thrown up into small and narrow cocks about three feet high ; each cock is slightly thatched, by drawing a little hay from the bottom of the cock, which is laid on the top, with one of the ends downwards. Thus, the bay may with ease and expedition be rendered equally safe from rain and wind, unless a violent storm should occur immediately after the cocks are raised. And, if they be put up when the grass is perfectly dry, Dr. Anderson affirms that they "never sit so closely as to heat," though they become in the course of a day or two so firm as not to be liable to be overturned, unless by a hurricane.
In these cocks, the hay is suffered to remain for a week or a fortnight ; till, upon inspection, it is judged that they will keep in tolerably large tramp-cocks; in which case two men, each of whom is provided with a pitch-fork, carry the small cocks between them successively to the place where the tramp-cocks are to be raised. The advantages attending this method are : 1. That the labour is considerably shortened; 2. That the-bay continues almost as green as when it was first cut, and that it retains its natural juices in the greatest perfection; whereas, by spreading it out, tedding it in the sun, etc. it becomes bleached, its sap exhales, and it is frequently much damaged by the rain. Particular care, however, ought to be taken, that the grass be perfectly dry when first piled up into cocks : for, if it be in the least degree wet, it will Speedily become mouldy, clog together so closely as to be impervious to the air, and never dry, unless it be spread out in the sun. To prevent such an accident, Dr. Anderson directs the cutting of the grass to be commenced dur-ing line, settled weather in the morning, and not to suffer the haymakers to touch it, till the dew be evaporated.
In the 28th vol. of Annals of Agrirulture, we meet with a communication from David Bab clay, Esq. of "Walthamstow, Essex, who has employed Dr. Anderson's method of making hay with suc-cess; but, instead of conveying the bay by hand to the stack, he caused a cart rope to be fixed round the bottom of a large cock, and to be drawn by a horse to the stack, while a man fixes a pitch-fork in the opposite side, and thus pushes the cock.
Dr. Darwin proposes a middle way to be adopted between the different methods practised in the North 3nd South of Britain. If the swath of cut grass be turned over only once in the course of a day, for three or four days, the internal parts of it become in a manner dried in the shade ; and, if it be afterwards spread over the ground only for a few hours in a fine day, he believes the hay would become sufficiently dry to be stacked. He strongly recommends the grass to be thrown into small cocks at night, especially if the weather be damp, to prevent it from being injured by the excrements and slime from the vast numbers of worms, which rise out of the ground during warm moist nights. For this reason, the hay-cocks ought to be made as high in proportion to their base as possible, that a less surface may be in contact with the ground, while the broader top is exposed to the action of the air, by which the exhalation of its moisture is accelerated, and the hay itself is secured from accidental showers.
In wet seasons, Dr. DarwiiN thinks the best method is to turn the swaths every day, or every other day, or make them into small cocks ; thus to secure the whole from the injuries of incessant rains ; and also to prevent the parts next the ground, as well as in the middle, from fermenting and putrifying. When the weather becomes more favourable, the hay may be made into large cocks, so that the perflation of the atmosphere will not only cause its moisture to exhale the more quickly, but an incipient fermentation will discharge a portion of beat, and thus contributete dry the hay, by increasing the evaporation : in a similar manner, the remarkable heat generated in hay - stacks, finished only one or two days, greatly contributes to dry the whole stack.
Hay constituting the chief food of horses and other cattle, especially during the winter, different contrivances have been suggested to prevent it from being injured by rain, while making. And here we cannot but recommend the practice of tippling, which we have already described in p. 12 of this volume ; as, from its simplicity and facility, it is equally applicable to clover and other grasses.
In the 14th vol. of the Trans-actions of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, etc. Mr.JoHN Middleton, of Lambeth, gives an account of a machine to be used in the making of hay. It consists of a back and two sides, or gates, each of which is about seven feet in length. The frames, or exterior parts, are of oak or ash, ha t of the back being 4 inches by 4, while those of the wings are 3 inches by 3. Between all the frarmes are fixed deal planks 3 inches by 1/2 and at the end of each wing, or gate, are chains, to which the horses are to be fastened by means of splinter-bars. Before this machine can be employed, the hay is to be put into rows; the animals being barnessed, and managed by persons mounted on them, they are slowly driven on, so that all the bay may be collected between the gates. When the machine is filled, and the load is to be drawn to a distant place, the horses must be kept as closely together as possible.
We conceive Mr.MiDDLETON's implement will be found useful during the ardent heat of summer, especially when there are few labourers, in dragging the hay together as soon as it is sufficiently made, and thus preventing it from being parched. In showery weather, it is said to be still more serviceable ; as, in case of approach-. ing rain, the grass may be collected immediately, formed into a stack, and sheltered from wet by a cloth, or by treading it closely together, Laving a ridge in the middle, and by raking it down on the outside. He observes, that during the wet summer of 1795, this machine was-particularly convenient ; and that, if the boys or drivers besteady.and the horses tradable, or accustomed to the work, ten acres of hay may be effectually secured in little more than one hour.
In the 2d vol. of the Transac-tions of the same Society, Mr. Richard Toft, of Kentish Town, describes a contrivance for secur-ing hay-ricks from rain, while they are raising ; for which he was rewarded with a silver medal. It consists of 240 yards of coarse cloth, called duck, prepared with tar and oil; three scaffold-poles, two of which are upright, the third is thicker in the middle than at the ends, being intended for a ridge ; two double blocks ; four pedestals and about one hundred weight of tarred rope : beside these articles, there is a reel, or windlass, together with pullies, and iron work, tire, the whole expence of which amounts to about 28l. The pedestals are to be placed four feet in the ground, for the reception of the poles. The width of the cloth is required to be greater than its length, as it is to be raised by the ridge-pole, for the admission of air : and as the stacks are generally wider in the middle than at the bottom, the cloth is divided into two parts, that it may be the more easily folded over the pole. When a rick is advanced above the eaves, and begins to become narrow, Mr. Toft directs the cloth to be. taken down, by unhooking one end of the ridge-pole, and letting it down by means of a rope ; after •which the other is to be unhooked, etc. in a similar manner. The cloth may be suffered to rest upon the sides of the rick, but, in case of high winds, it will be requisite to fasten it with ropes.
In erecting the stacks, great caution is necessary that the hay be not put together before it is per-y dry; in which case it not unfrequently happens that whole stacks are suddenly reduced to ashes. To prevent such accidents, a. chimney or funnel is usually made in the centre of the stack, but it then becomes necessary to form culverts beneath the stack, by digging three or four trenches ; covering them with boards or sticks ; and exposing their apertures in every direction to the wind, in order to ensure continual ventilation.
As the erecting of funnels in stacks is not universally adopted, it is of consequence to ascertain the degree of heat which the stacked hay has acquired, lest it should at any time take fire. One of the easiest methods is that pursued by Mr. Ducket, and which consists simply in thrusting a scaffold-bolt or some long iron-bolt into the hay rick, and then introducing a gun, or ram-rod, furnished with a strong worm,.and screwing out a sample, by which he not only discovers the heat, but also the colour of the bay ; and if the stack require air, he per-forates it in several parts with si-milar holes, which thus answer every purpose of a ventilating fun-nel.
In Lancashire, barns have, within these few years, been ere6ted for the preservation of hay, whence they are denominated hay-barns. Theyare built upon pillars, and co-vered with slates. Sometimes they are provided with floors boarded with planks, loosely placed, perforated with holes, and lying hollow for a certain space above the ground, for the purpose of admitting a free circulation of air beneath. These buildings are cheap, useful, and very convenient in bad weather : they afford such advantages in the preservation of hay, as will in a short time amply repay the expence of erecting them.
Having already pointed out the necessity as well as the utility of giving salt to cattle, we shall here only remark, that the most intelligent farmers sprinkle the salt while the stack is raising, alternately between each layer of hay, in the proportion of 1 cwt. of salt to 7 or 8 tons of hay. Every species of cattle will prefer inferior food thus prepared, to the finest hay in its raw state: for the salt assimilating with the juices of the hay, prevents too great a fermentation, and imparts a superior flavour. Farther, the salting of hay-ricks effectually secures them from becoming over-heated, or mildewed} so that the hay may be put together, without the least danger of its taking fire, in a much greener state than would otherwise be safe.
An excellent apparatus for securing hay and corn-stacks, has been contrived by Sir Joseph Banks; but, as an adequate idea of it cannot be conveyed without the aid of an engraving, we refer the reader to the 10th vol. of Annals of Agriculture, where its description is illustrated by a plate.
A patent was granted in February, 1801, to Mr. William Lester, of Cotton End, Northamptonshire, for his improved engine for cutting hay, straw, tobacco, etc. of which we shall give a farther account under the head.of Straw-Cutter.