How to Make a Homemade Hay Baler

How to construct and use a twine-rigged barrel homemade hay baler to save money and make hay on a home farm.

| July/August 1975

Here in Oregon, baled hay is now selling for between $50.00 and $90.00 a ton, If prices are similar in your area, maybe you've looked into the possibility of raising your own and given up when you found that balers, tractors, rakes, wind rowers, etc, cost a small fortune, But what if you learned that you could put up a ton of baled hay a day or even just half a ton with no outlay other than the expense of a barrel? Well, you can with a homemade hay baler!

First, it's important to realize that many fields of grass which go uncut because of the high cost of conventional haymaking could be harvested by less expensive methods like a homemade hay baler. A tractor mower is great if you can get the use of one, but if not, a small meadow can be cut by hand (and raked in the same way).

You may not even have to do any cutting. In this state, the highway department owns a large amount of land in the form of right-of-ways, some of which may never be used. The tracts are mowed regularly each year and then just left alone … and, with proper permission, the grass is yours for the raking. Be careful, however, not to gather hay that has been sprayed, or grown by the side of a really heavily traveled road (motor vehicle exhaust does contain lead, you know). Incidentally, straw left after the harvest of grass seed or grain may also be collected and baled by simple methods.

Amateur haying can be quite effective. One of us, in fact, made a ton of hay in a single long working day just by hand raking cured grass and packing it in a homemade gadget that cost practically nothing and operated very well.

Actually, the idea of a "stationary baler" such as this homemade hay baler isn't new, many farms formerly had such devices. Although we've never seen one of the old-time models, we understand that the machine was basically a large, cubical mold into which cured hay was piled. A horse was then walked in a circle to raise a weight that, when tripped, dropped to compact the fodder. The advantage of this system over loose storage was slim if there was any at all. The invention we're about to describe is a much smaller unit, intended for use by those who want to put up modest amounts of hay but have no access to standard equipment.

The basis for our love-cost baler is a 55-gallon drum, modified as follows (see image gallery for hay baler illustration):

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