The Old Hay Baler
ACRYLIC ON CANVAS
Original and Limited Edition
In the 1800’s and earlier, hay was cut by hand and then piled in great haystacks. Machines were developed in the 1860’s. Our modern mechanical balers and mowers evolved from these early crude machines.
The Second World War was raging in Europe with many of Elgin’s finest young men participating. Talk was the 1940 International Plowing Match would be cancelled but the consensus was that it was important to grow and harvest as much food and in a most efficient manner as possible, so the match was held on Sunset Ave., outside St. Thomas, at the Ontario Psychiatric Hospital Farm.
In addition to the plowing match there were tents with exhibits and demonstrations of all types of equipment and appliances a farmer or his misses could ever desire. There was a demonstration of the latest hay baler on the market.
According to an attendee . .who tells very colourful stories . . . the new baler’s tension was set with very heavy wet hay. When demonstrated later in the day dry, light weight straw was used. According to this story teller the baler set the straw bale air born and it landed on a nearby tent filled with spectators. One woman cried out in a panic “The Germans have bombed us. Run for your lives!”
This New Holland 273 Hayliner baler . . .circa 1972-1977 . . .pulled by a Massey-Ferguson tractor was a common sight in Elgin County . . .so much so, that no less than a half dozen farmers claim I did a painting of their baler. I saw this one at the side of the field at mealtime near the Southwold-Dunwich line.