Hay Loaders helped to harvest alfalfa hay in Ventura County. Alfalfa was a popular crop in the area because despite the improvement of engine-powered machinery in the early 20th century, horses were still a main source of power on farms.Tractors were an expensive investment. Some farmers devoted up to 1/3 of their land to alfalfa for feed purposes to keep their animals fed and happy. An added bonus to planting alfalfa is that it improves soil so it makes an excellent crop to rotate through the fields. Sugar beets were especially hard on the soil pulling moisture and nutrients. With no fertilizers, farmers could rebuild their soil’s fertility with alfalfa. The downside? Alfalfa is a water intensive plant, so before irrigation in areas of the county, it was difficult to grow.

Farmers cut and raked the hay in windrows and the hay loader lifted the hay off the ground and placed it in the wagon to save time and effort of using a pitchfork.

Hay Loader, c. 1930s

Made by International Harvester Co.

Used by the McGrath Family

Accession No. 1977-25.2

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