restricted access 10. From Dugouts to Cattle Empires
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Making Hay in the Great Basin 173 Welds of the Great Basin. Early versions lacked a seat, and the driver walked behind the team. Eventually a modiWed frame evolved with a single rotating wheel in the back and a seat for the teamster. Buck rake teamsters were skilled operators and commanded a better-than-averagewageinthehayWelds .Anunskilledoperatormightdrivethewooden teeth into the rough surface of the hay meadows or fail to pick up the hay.35 Hay handled with buck rakes became a tangled mass. The rolling action of the leading knocked the leaves from alfalfa hay. With careful attention to timing and a minimum of rolling of the hay during loading, high-qualityhaycouldbeproducedwithabuckrake,butthisimplement wascharacteristicallyusedfortransportinglow-qualityorwildhayinthe sagebrush/grasslands. During the ten-hour day, one man with a wagon couldhaulthehayfromtwoacres;withaslip,threeacres;andwithabuck rake, four acres.36 ThelowannualprecipitationinmostofthevalleysoftheIntermountainarea ,andsnowinsteadofraininthewinter,madeitpossibletostack hay outdoors. This was fortunate in view of the scarcity of lumber for barns. Spoilage occurred even under semiarid conditions, so the basic problemwastostackthehayashighaspossibleandtothatchthetopwell to minimize the loss. The height of the haystack became a measure of technological advancement. Horses supplied the power, and various types of slides and derricks the mechanical lift. Homemade derrick stackers came in a great variety of designs. The most numerous derricks were the “Mormon” type, characterized by the boom that pivots on the top of the mast. The second most popular type was the mast-and-boom derrick, on which the boom extends from the sideofthemast.Thesetwoaccountedfor90percentofthederricks,with cable stackers and tripods accounting for the rest. During lifting, the hay was held by a Jackson fork, a sling, or, more rarely,byharpoonforks.TheJacksonforkconsistedofatriangularhardwood frame with four long, curved metal fork tongs. The tongs, in an 174 The Land in Transition open position, were forced down into the hay load, and the frame was snappedshutwithametalcatchwherethedumpingropeattached.Once theteamsteronthewagonhadtheforkforcedintotheloadandthecatch snapped, he shouted, “Take-her-away.” The derrick boy walked his horse a prescribed distance, pulling the cable through a system of pulleysonthederrickframe ,whichliftedtheforkandhay.Thederrickarm swung to the stack, where the stackers shouted, “Dump-her,” and the teamstertrippedthedumprope,openingtheforkanddroppingthehay. The derrick boy unhooked and returned the horse for another load. The teamster pulled the boom and fork back with the dump rope. The general shouting of orders with tobacco-Wlled cheeks and the short attention span of derrick boys caused more than one teamster loader to lose a Wnger in a Jackson fork catch due to an early start. The dimensions of the nets used for lifting hay varied depending on how the hay was transported to the stack. If the hay came to the stack on wagons,usuallytwonetswereusedperwagon.Thesenetswereapproximately nine feet by ten feet, so two Wt on an eighteen-foot wagon. The supports for the net were constructed of wooden poles or, occasionally, pipe. The net was made of three-quarter-inch to one-inch-diameter manila rope. The support poles on each end of the net had rings where the cable from the derrick attached. Down the center of the net were hooks that could be tripped by the trip rope to dump the load. One method of rigging commonly used to lift hay oV wagons was to attach one end of the derrick cable to the tip of the boom. The cable loopeddowntothewagonandbackuptotheboom,whereitfedthrough a pulley to the derrick and then by a system of pulleys to the derrick horses.Withintheloopthatdroppeddownfromtheboomweretwospecial pulleys with hooks and special Xanges that prevented them from fouling each other. The hooked pulleys were attached to the two sides of the net by the rings; as the cable tightened, it pulled the net closed as it was lifted. When hay was spotted at the stack with a buck rake, a larger net of the Making Hay in the Great Basin 175 same basic design was used. The net was as wide as the buck rake. The nettenderpulledtheboombackfromthestackbythetriprope,andthe derrickboybackedthehorsestolowerthenetdownthesideofthestack. When the net was near the ground, the derrick boy stopped and the net tender unhooked the center of the net, which was then lowered to the ground. The net tender pulled the outside half of the net away from the stackandhookedtheringoverapindrivenintothegroundthatheldthe net in place while the buck of hay was spotted on it. When the buck rake backed oV the net, the net tender Xipped the lifting cable over the pile ofhayandhookedthecabletotheringonthegroundpegandtheoneon the free end of the net. He signaled the derrick boy to start the horses; as the cable tightened, it closed the net. As the net full of hay was lifted, the derrick boom automatically swung toward the stack. The net...


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Subject Headings

  • Grazing -- Environmental aspects -- Great Basin -- History -- 19th century.
  • Great Basin -- History -- 19th century.
  • Beef cattle -- Great Basin -- History -- 19th century.
  • Ranch life -- Great Basin -- History -- 19th century.
  • Range ecology -- Great Basin -- History -- 19th century.
  • Sparks, John, 1843-1908.
  • Ranchers -- Great Basin -- Biography.
  • Harrell, Jasper, 1830-1901.
  • Ranchers -- Great Basin -- History -- 19th century.
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