Instead of allowing the hay to lie for some days in the swathe after it is cut, putting it up into cocks, spreading it out, and then tedding it in the sun, which tends greatly to bleach the hay, exhales its natural juices, and subjects it very much to the danger of getting rain, and thus runs a great risk of benign made for little, I made it a general rule, never to cut hay but when the grass is dry; and then make the gatherers follow close upon the cutters, putting it up immediately into small cocks about three feet high each, and of as small a diameter as they can be made to stand with; always giving each of them a slight kind of thatching, by drawing a few handfuls of the hay from the bottom of the cock all around, and laying it lightly upon the top, with one of the ends hanging downward.
In these cocks, I allow the hay to remain, until, upon inspection, which is usually one or two weeks. These small cocks are lifted by two men, each with an extended pitchfork, to where the tramp cock is to be built. And in this manner, they proceed over the field till the whole is finished. If the hay is to be carried to any considerable distance this process can be greatly abridged, by causing the carriers to take two long sticks, and having laid them down by the small cocks, parallel to one another, at the distance of about two feet asunder, let them lift three or four cocks one after another, and place them carefully above the sticks, and then all together, as if upon a hand barrow, to the place where the large rick is to be built.
The advantages that attend this method of making hay are, that it greatly abridges the labour; as it does not require as much of the work that is necessary in the old method of turning and tedding it; that it allows the hay to continue almost as green as when it is cut, and preserves its natural juices; And, lastly, that it is secured from the possibility of being damaged by rain. This last circumstance deserves to be much more attended to by the farmers; as I have seen few who are aware of the loss that the quality of their hay sustains by receiving a shower after it is cut, and before it is gathered; If these gentlemen will take the trouble, at any time, to compare any parcel of hay that has been made perfectly dry, with another parcel from the same field, that has received a shower while in the swathe, or even a copious dew, they will soon be sensible of a very manifest difference between them; nor will their horses or cattle ever commit a mistake in choosing between the two.
– Simple and Easy Method of Making Hay, August 12, 1791