The switch from
horse power to tractor power in haymaking happened very suddenly. Although
factory-built mowers and side delivery rakes for use with tractors had been
available from dealers in Alberta since the 1920s, very few farmers owned such
machines when the Second World War began. Labour and equipment shortages
during the war prompted many Alberta farmers to convert to tractors and to adapt
existing horse machinery.
horse-drawn mowers could be converted to tractor power by shortening the pole
and attaching it to the tractor drawbar. Mowers powered directly from the
tractor's power-take-off also became more and more popular. Mowers needed to be
driven at a constant, moderate speed to avoid clogging, so for this job tractors
had a clear advantage over horses. The side delivery rake could also be adapted
for use with a tractor by a relatively simple modification of the pole, but it
was impractical to adapt dump rakes. Because of their design, using a dump rake
with a tractor actually added to manpower costs. One person had to ride on the
rake to make the hay piles, while a second person drove the tractor. Some
farmers tried to overcome this problem by operating the dump lever from the
tractor using ropes, but most simply continued to use horses for this phase of
haymaking into the 1950s.
Judy Larmour. Making Hay While the Sun Shone: Haying in Alberta Before 1955. n.p.: Friends of
Reynolds-Alberta Museum Society and Alberta Culture and Multiculturalism, Historic Sites and Archives Service, 1992. With permission from
of the Reynolds-Alberta Museum Society.