Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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@ElizaBTweetin: July 24, 1872: Hay Caps

Posted on July 24, 2013

Eliza B. Wheaton's diary, 20-25 July 1872.

Eliza B. Wheaton's diary, 20-25 July 1872.

What in the world are “Hay Caps”? you ask.  I didn’t know either, and it took a bit of searching to find out that they were large cloth covers installed over haystacks to protect them from wet weather.

An 1877 publication titled “Use of Hay Caps”  noted that,

“They have saved thousands of tons of hay, after it was partially cured and cocked up, from waste and ruin, and of course they have saved a vast amount of labor and worry, which a storm under such circumstances occasions. Made of simple cotton cloth, to be fastened with wooden pins at the corners, they are not very expensive, and four or five and a half feet square is large enough. Good, compactly woven, light sheeting is as useful as any material, and better to handle than if it were heavy. A simple cord-loop, sewn in at each corner, is the most convenient way of fastening, as it admits of some play on the wooden pins.”

Hay Caps in use.

Hay Caps in use.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture urged the use of hay caps in its 1918 Farmers’ Bulletin 977 “Hay Caps” by H.B. McClure, Agriculturalist.

Mrs. Wheaton had paid an "extra" man, Thomas Mayne, for five days of haying, and would not have wanted to lose the precious winter feed. The rate of pay was $2.50 per day, minus the cost of his train ticket and room and board.  After a week of heavy hot work, Mr. Mayne received $7.49. Although Eliza did not record the purchase of material specific to the purpose, she no doubt sewed the hay caps on her treadle sewing machine, another hot job!

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