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Avondale Historical Journal No. 30

Avondale Historical Journal No. 30

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Published by Lisa Truttman
Journal of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society, Auckland, New Zealand
Journal of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society, Auckland, New Zealand

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Lisa Truttman on Jun 25, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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A few old photos are worth an-other thousand words. My firstserious holiday job was at theend of my first year at univer-sity. It was the first time I didnot holiday at Coromandel. Thistime I would earn a wage. Anolder friend Norman Parkerfrom the Bible Training Institutewas going to work during hisholiday at Awhitu, north of Waiuku. He had done it previ-ously, knew the area, and got mea job too, nearby. I was to work on a farm for about two months:December 1940-January 1941.
I simply rode my bicycle with apack on my back, followed theroad signs, and found Stuart Ur-win’s farm. I was given a room, dropped my gear, had a short rest and then wastaken by truck to the most northern farm, Champion’s, that included the signal sta-tion. It was a magnificent view. We inspected the bay paddock and set the gearout.
Next day we erected the mast for the hoist and began the haystack. The point of this story is to record for family a piece of farm history that finished very shortly
The AvondaleHistorical Journal
July—August 2006Volume
A Needle in aHaystack1- 4Trees 4Inside this issue:
Next meeting of theAvondale-WaterviewHistorical Society:
Saturday,5 August 2006,2.30 pmThis will be ourAGM
Lion’s Hall,corner Block-house Bay Roadand Great NorthRoadPlease contact theSociety fordetails.
A Needle in a Haystack
by Ivan Whyle
Official Publication of the Avondale-Waterview Historical  Society Incorporated 
Sadly, we must note the passing in May 2006 of two people who meanta lot to this Society and its members.
Society founding member
Edward (Bob) Browne
died on 23 May aged 78and
Vera Crawford
(widow of Jim Crawford, of Morrison & Crawford’sgarage) died on 19 May aged 98.
They will both be missed.
maximum use from one investment in the hoist, ahoist that everyone got benefit from.
Some years ago I saw hoist gearin the “museum” at MysteryCreek at Hamilton along withother historical equipment. It was just one of the inventions thatserved its purpose and had itsday. Technology changed.
The hay paddock is closed off,the grass grows, the grass is cut(mechanically by mower), thegrass dries and becomes hay.Weather is the key. The hay hasto be turned (by fork) and raisedinto windrows to dry better, espe-cially after rain.
A sweep is used to push the wind-rows into large heaps and tosweep it to the place where thehaystack is being built.
The hay fork was the basic tool. Ithas two long prongs and a longhandle. The builder estimates the area needed for theamount of hay. The stack was rectangular and couldbe very high. But only a hoist enabled it to go veryhigh. A lower stack can be achieved by using a plat-form. In that case the base is built, then a platformprovides the step to go higher. That means the hay has
The Avondale Historical Journal 
Volume 5 Issue 30
 Page 2
after the war. Haystacks were then replaced by haybales and sheds for bales. Later on the rectangular baleswere replaced by large rolls with a plastic cover thatkept the water out and required no shed. Tractors androlls removed most of the physical work too.It happened everywhere. In Italy almost every farm wewent to had its stable and its haystacks. New Zealandhad much bigger haystacks – and much bigger herds.At Awhitu I started fromscratch. All my farmingexperience – cows andmilking machine – wasat Tuateawa and therethey did not make anyhay. At Awahitu thefarming was a morebusiness-like system andcertainly far more organ-ised and profitable, usingmachinery.
Stuart was milking 80cows and had a sidelineas a contractor with ahoist and truck. He alsohad a mower, horse-drawn, and with his gearhe could do a series of haystacks for the localfarmers, and with theirinput on their ownfarms. It was a simple andeconomical way of getting
All photographs from Ivan Whyle’s collection, Awhitu 1940.
. Horse-drawnmower, cutting the hay paddock.
Tarpaulin top on the finished stack, presumably. Truck with fork sweep that rotates 90degrees. Horse pulls the hoist.
The Avondale Historical Journal 
Volume 5 Issue 30
 Page 3
to be pitched first onto the plat-form, transferred and pitchedhigher. The hoist can get the haymuch higher still.
The sweep brings in the hay. Alarge metal grab picks up a pileand a horse or a vehicle pulls thewire rope in its pulley lifting thebundle to the stackers up top. Thestackers have worked their wayup in stages – literally from theground up. The outside edges aregiven special care and made asfirm as possible. A platform mayfollow, then the hoist is used. Theoutside edges are always the partto concentrate on. Once they aresecure the centre is easy.
In comes the grab and the control-ler at the base swings the grab 90 degrees to dump thehay on the top. Then the stackers fork it into positionand stamp it firm. The stack should be a little widerthan the base as it rises, then topped off by making agable shape roof that will shed the rain.
There could be problems with haystacks if the hay wasnot perfectly dry and ready. A damp or green patchcould start to heat up and cause the stack to smoulder.The only remedy then was to break into the stack andget that part out again. The cattle loved it but it was aloss to the farmer.
The man on the pull had a tedious but important job.And as the stack rises so the distance out increased ateach stage. Out, in, out, in. Up, down, up, down.Sweep, grap, hoist, lower, grab, hoist, lower. On andon.
The pitch forkers are hard at it, steady, systematic andhard at it. Break for morning tea, break for lunch. Itwas hot and exhausting work all round, even for thewomen baking, packing, brewing, serving. But a greatsocial event too. A happy time if the weather is right.A worrying time if there is rain threatening.
There was a lot of skill in the estimating, judging theweather, adapting to what it turned out to be, estimat-ing the size of stack from the amount of hay, and get-ting the job done in the hours available. All the timethe job has to be completed and the milking has to bedone at the end of the day.
In the winter when the grass is not growing, the haywill provide feed. The same if there is a drought andthe grass is not growing. The number in the herd hasto be matched to the amount of feed. In extremity thefarmer has to buy hay from other farmers or other dis-tricts.
It was the backbone of New Zealand they used to say.
A grab load being raised. Stack, feeder pile and renewer pile.
The stack is clearly very high – not one to fall off. Wasthe hoist used to get the men down? Estimated height of stack is8 metres. Clearly only possible with a hoist.
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