Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-1982


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Haying, Irrigation, and Branding:
Tradition and Innovation


All of the ranches the team visited from 1978 to 1982 made hay in very similar ways. First, the alfalfa or native grasses were cut and laid in windrows by a swather. Depending on how well the cut plants were curing in the sun, the crop might also be turned and windrowed again by a rake. Once cured, a baler bundled the hay into bales that were collected and stacked with a harobed, the local term for the Sperry New Holland StackCruiser. This equipment may be seen in photographs made on ranches operated by Bob Cassinelli, Jim Wallace, and Loui Cerri. Video footage made on the Ninety-Six Ranch documents the swather, baler, and harobed at work in 1982.

This new haymaking technology contrasts with the hay derrick that prevailed in the decades before World War II. Rancher Leslie J. "Les" Stewart's motion picture of haymaking on the Ninety-Six Ranch in the 1940s offers an unsurpassed look at a derrick in action, as well as the mowing machines, windrower, and buck rake that cut, conditioned, and gathered the hay before it was stacked. Stewart's footage indicates not only that haying technology underwent a dramatic transformation between World War II and 1982 but also that, in its day, the derrick was as sophisticated a device as the harobed. In an interview, "Mechanizing Haying and Reducing the Need for Labor", Stewart explains why the technology changed: in the postwar era, farm workers were hard to find and commanded significantly higher wages, thus justifying an increased investment in labor-saving equipment.