Driving across the Romania countryside there are many haystacks in the wide open fields, people’s yards and even in the apple orchards. This is the winter food for the sheep, cattle and dairy cows. The plastic tarp on top is supposed to help protect the stack from rain and snow. However, they never seemed to be very large nor tied into place very well, so apparently this protection is optional.
Cutting the Hay with a Scythe
I had expected to see more of these unique haystacks and more of the flatbed carts with large truck tires filled with hay. On one morning walk in the village of Corbeni I was able to see part of the hay gathering process. The Romanians generally did not seem to be a happy group, until we would wave to them, then they were all smiles and never seemed to mind my camera.
Step one in harvesting hay: Tell a few friends and one side of the family to put their scythes into the wagon and meet you in the fields.
Step two: Get to work cutting the fields and fields of winter hay. The scythes are sharpened frequently with the stones hanging from their belts.
Straight Poles for the Framework
Now go get a bunch of straight poles for repair of the haystack frames and to prop up the haystacks.
I said straight poles, not crooked ones!
Build or repair haystack frames with the poles.
Rake the Hay Fields
Call your other side of the family and tell them to bring their pitchforks and rakes to the fields. Many of the pitchforks were homemade and of wood, like what the lady is carrying below. The prongs were very smooth from years and maybe generations of use.
Loaded Hay Wagons
Loaded hay wagon rumble down the rocky roads. There must be a real art to load the hay onto the wagon. If it were to fall off the wagon blocking the hay wagon express way it would be quite an embarrassment for the entire family.
Haystacks, the Finished Product
To see any degree of mechanization to this entire process was the exception, not the norm. I failed to see them actually building these stacks or when I did see them it was on a busy road heading elsewhere. The entire process is not really known to me. It seems these piles of hay must eventually be brought into a barn somewhere. When it snows, they will do no good out in a field. So maybe they are here to dry before going onto a wagon, then to the winter storage barn.
Great article, Harold. Hope you enjoyed your trip back to the 19th century as much as we did. Romania is such a treat to visit compared to other much more heavily touristed areas in Europe and the people so friendly.
Yes we did enjoy it. The best post is coming up, our trip to Sibiu and the beautiful blue doors you told us about.
Really great, Harold. You capture a process we saw all over rural Romania and was the signature activity for us as well in Romania. Such a beautiful countryside and such friendly people even if living in what we would consider a 19th century world.
Where are you headed next?
Hi there Dave, thank you for the inspiration to get me into Romania and driving through this beautiful country. I post these a few weeks behind my actual travels. We are currently in Sarajevo and have already been to Mostar. Then down to Debrovnik for some warmer weather.
Awesome experience. Thanks for sharing