innovation on the road to the mechanization of haymaking during the war was the
development of a tractor-powered combined hay sweep and stacker. This device
allowed hay to be stacked at a rate of less than one man-hour per 900 kilograms,
using a crew of two or three. This was less than one third of the labour needed to
stack hay using a rack and pitchforks.
Kerchner of Tilley, working in association with the Lethbridge Experimental
Farm, designed a combination sweep stacker with its own undercarriage and wheels
that could be pushed ahead of a tractor. A cable lift raised and lowered the
fork, and the stacker wheels powered the clutch-activated windlass. Kerchner
patented his machine in 1944 and began production in Medicine Hat in 1945.
Although it was ungainly and difficult to operate, over 500 were eventually
built. A machine built along similar principles, the "Jay Hawk
Stacker," was also offered for sale by the Riverside Ironworks in Calgary
Alberta during the war years, another Albertan designed a second type of sweep
stacker that mounted directly on the tractor. Patented by Andrew Briosi in 1944,
the original model was raised and lowered by winches and cables powered by the
tractor power-take-off. These devices were much easier to operate than the
Kerchner combination sweep stacker and could also be used to load bales and lift
other heavy objects around the farm. Mechanically activated tractor-mounted
sweep stackers quickly became obsolete, but similar designs, such as the
Farmhand F10, using hydraulic cylinders to provide lifting power were widely
accepted and became extremely popular by the 1950s. Hydraulic-powered sweep
stackers, generally referred to as "farmhands" by most Alberta
farmers, came into general use at about the same time as a second important labour
saving innovation, the automatic baler.
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.