Vaiadel kuhjalava ja selle ehitamine Matsalu rahvuspargis / Constructing a haystack base in Matsalu national park


  • Allan Jürgens



Haymaking is a traditional craft that began to fade in the second half of the 20th century. The gradual disappearance of the traditional ways of making hay was due to the rapid development of modern agricultural techniques, which made the need for older techniques obsolete.

Before the advent of hay packers, hay was mainly stored in barns or haystacks. As barns became more common beginning in the early 20th century, haystacks were the most common way of preserving hay (photos 1, 3, 4). To help structure the haystack and prevent the bottom of the pile from rotting, it was first necessary to build a haystack base (photo 2). In the case of wetlands and flooded meadows, haystacks had to be built on tall wooden poles to protect them against flooding (photos 5, 6).

Although some descriptions of the construction of a traditional haystack have survived in the archives, there is no written information on haystack bases built on poles. Fortunately, there are some local people who still remember such haystack structures as well as some historically valuable photographs that have survived. Based on these old photos and local people’s memories, we organised a workshop on making a haystack base in Matsalu National Park, aimed at preserving and presenting the local heritage.

In this article, we will look at the haystack, and in particular at the haystack base needed to build it on. The first part of the article gives an overview of the necessity and importance of the haystack in farm and folk culture. A separate section is devoted to the construction of the haystack bed on poles. The second part of the article is an auto-ethnographic overview of a workshop on the building of a haystack base on the Kasari riverbank in the village of Kelu. Along with photographic material, the article also gives an overview of the different stages of the build and some details about the construction.

Keywords: woodcrafts, haystack, haystack base, traditional agriculture, workshop


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