Thursday, February 16, 2012

Women and Haying

I stumbled across a site, Hay in Art, which I recommend to all feminists who grew up on dairy farms.  I was searching for images of haying for another blog, and found this site which apparently has collected all the paintings showing haying. You'd be surprised how many there are (6700+).  A subset of the collection is women doing haying. The site owner, Alan Ritch, finds a pattern: women raked and men used forks.  And apparently it was common to ted the hay (i.e., turn the cut hay over so it would dry faster). Where I grew up in Broome County, NY that wasn't normal: the hay wasn't dense enough and the conditions moist enough to require it. 

The sheer number of pictures of women in the fields provides a different picture of what life was like in previous centuries.

My sister, who likes to brag about driving the team pulling the hay wagon and hay loader when she was maybe 13 or so, will be disappointed--I didn't see any such images in the database. 

I strongly recommend the site: it doesn't seem to have been updated recently, but it has all sorts of special essays, as Ritch calls them.  Unfortunately, the images are limited in size, and the type's a bit small for old eyes, but it's still fascinating.

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