Back at the end of August, during my last Ag Musings column, I was describing the different haying methods we had during my childhood and how important putting up quality hay was, especially since we had a dairy herd. I had reached the point where we had purchased a haying machine called a Haybuster Stack-Eze, which was manufactured in Jamestown, N.D.
This machine made round stacks of loose hay by elevating the hay up between two vertical belts and transferring it to a horizontal belt where it was transported to the middle of a round cage that constantly rotated while filling. Hydraulics allowed the hay conveying arm to deposit the hay anywhere in that rotating table.
The cage on that rotating table allowed for a circular stack about 16 feet in diameter and 10 feet high. Once the stacking frame was filled to the top, the operator would build a peak of hay on top using the hydraulic controls to finish off the top of the stack. The end of the hay conveyor also had a packer roller that packed the hay as it was being loaded into the stacker frame.
Once the stack was finished and topped off to shed water, the back half of the stacking frame was opened up, the back of the platform tilted down to the ground and a conveyor mechanism slid the stack off the platform and onto the ground as the stacker and tractor moved slowly forward. The conveyor mechanism was then moved to the forward position, and with the stacking frame closed up, it was time to build another stack of hay.
The Haybuster put up excellent alfalfa hay with very few of the leaves being lost to machinery shatter, and that was important to us since we wanted as many leaves as possible make it to a dairy cow’s stomach rather than falling on the ground in the field. But, in other aspects, it wasn’t the perfect haying machine.
Native grass and prairie hay stacks were tricky to build, especially when it came time to unload them. Since that hay was a lot more slippery, extra care had to be taken when unloading those stacks or the top would slide off the stack, leaving a blob of hay instead of a nice round stack.
We didn’t have a baler and this was our hay making machine, so straw was also stacked in the machine and those stacks were even more fragile than the prairie hay stacks. We often had the tops slide off the stack.
It took a good size tractor to run the stacker. It was PTO powered and also had five different hydraulic controls that the tractor’s hydraulic system had to supply. We used a Massey Ferguson 1155 exclusively on the stacker and that seemed to work well.
Many of those stackers fell victims to fires and that is what happened to ours eventually. A bearing overheated and started the hay on fire, and since you often had a large amount of hay in the stacker frame, that soon started on fire.
That finished our days of putting up hay with the Haybuster system. It was good while it lasted.