The First Antique Hay Rakes
Antique hay rakes can take two basic forms. The earliest hay rakes were hand tools and looked much like a rake with extra space between the teeth. These are still used in some areas of the world. There are also rakes pulled by teams of horses, mules or oxen, and later, rakes pulled by tractors.
Horse Drawn Hay Rakes
Later hay rakes were horse drawn. These were dump rakes; wide, two wheeled machines that had curved iron teeth. They were operated by the farmer from a seat mounted over the rake.
Tractor Drawn Rakes
When tractors were introduced to the farm, hay rakes were developed that attached to the back of a tractor. Instead of horses, a tractor pulled the rake.
Parts of a Hay Rake
The main part of the rake was made from wood while the wheels and teeth were metal, usually iron or steel. Later rakes were made almost completely from metal.
Purpose of the Rake
The hay rake was used to collect cut hay into windrows to prepare it to be baled or loaded on a wagon. The hay was fluffed up and turned so that it would dry.
How the Rake Worked
The rake teeth dragged the ground collecting the cut hay. When the teeth were full they were lifted which left the hay in a pile. More hay was then added to the pile, or windrow with each pass.
Collecting Old Farm Tools
Antique hay rakes can usually be found sitting and rusting in abandoned fields. There is no practical use for these reminders of days gone by.
Usually the wooden tongue of the rake will have rotten away. Very few old hay rakes can be found with all the parts intact. Antique farm tools are not a collectible everyone has room to display. Usually these items will be found at living history museums and other educational venues.
If you have a large property, displaying a hay rake in your yard or garden may be a possibility. Whether you restore it or leave it as found, a hay rake can be an appealing, nostalgic decoration.