The making of a haystack in Zece Hotare

Living in the country means we get to take part in all sorts of agricultural activities. During the
summers, in Zece Hotare, everyone makes hay for their farm animals; mainly cows and sheep.
Although the most common way of hay making nowadays is with a tractor (cutting the grass, making
bales), some of our neighbours stick to the tradition of making haystacks. This year, we decided to
learn how to make a haystack ourselves, thus we asked our neighbours to come and teach us the
whole process.

We admit to have cut the grass with a tractor, but followed the rest of the traditional steps. We
started Saturday morning by gathering the hay with rakes in long lines. Once that was done, all lines
had to be turned in heaps, ideally using wooden hay forks. Honestly, this was the actual hard part of
the job, since it took us about six hours on a very, very, hot day.

It was time for the fun to begin: our neighbour Marius and his horse Dinu have arrived to help
moving the heaps and start building on the haystack. Of course, we knew that Marius and Dinu have
been working like this for years, still we were impressed by the ease with which they pulled each
each heap to the “building site”.

We started to make the haystack by putting a pole into the ground and building a small floor around
it. The hay should not be put straight on the ground since the humidity can make rot quickly. Next,
we started to add hay around the pole, in layers. Marius was the one to climb on the stack and make
sure the hay is well pressed and stable on every layer, while the others kept putting more grass
around the pole. Once the haystack is almost done, there is one more thing to be done: the hay
needs to be combed down using a rake, ensuring a smooth surface water will flow down on. We
finished by topping the stack with a plastic bag, allowing no water down the pole. Job well done!
So why go through the trouble of building a haystack when we could make bales? Well, for the
experience for one; we believe it is important to keep the local traditions alive. Secondly, it surely
looks great between our old vacation houses and gives something extra to the landscape in general.
Thirdly, we might need the hay later on, and a stack is the way to keep it dry and useable for years,
without needing to store it inside or covering it up.

Haystacks are still to be seen in the hills surrounding Suncuius, in Zece Hotare and the mountain area
of Bihor region.

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