Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Why is it called a hay mow?

Winter is right around the corner, so we need to get some hay stored for the alpacas.  Handy Hubby is building a hay mow in the barn.  It is made of 2 x 4's and plywood above the stall in the barn.  As you see in this picture it is not completed...needs more plywood and he wants to build a wooden ladder that will be permanently attached.  It will then have a nostalgic appearance. (smile)

The storage concept is simple enough.  My questions is why is it called a 'mow'?  (Pronounced like 'cow' and spelled like mow, which is what you do to your lawn)  I've also heard it called a hay loft, which makes sense to me because I know what a 'loft' is.

Dictionary.com defines hay mow as hay stored in a barn, or a hay loft.  So, my question is where did the term hay mow come from?  If you know, please leave a comment.

The girls have had their own feed troughs for a few days now and it is working out better.  Before these, Bogo (middle one in picture) would eat some of hers then hurry to the other piles and eat some of theirs, then back to hers, then back to theirs....  With the feed troughs she still checks them all out first, but then settles on one, giving the others a chance to eat the correct amounts, and her not to be such a hog ;-)      Of course she stopped eating long enough to pose for a picture...she is very photogenic!

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  1. Never heard it called that...I have always heard it call a hay loft. It will be interesting to hear why?
    Love your barn and Alpacas.

  2. Did some research. If you have not settled the reason it is called a hay mow, I found the origin as a noun in Old English, 'muwa'. It is a pile or heap of hay or sheaves of grain stored in a barn. Hope this offers some insight. I sure handled tons of hay in our mow!

  3. Before balers made the square bales we had when I was younger, loose hay was put up with large forks. I always thought that since the hay was "mowed" and the put up loose in a big pile that it was just pronounced differently when stored in the barn. Why they pronounced it differently was always a mystery to me.

  4. The Old English "muwa" is the word for "mow" not "haymow," as one commenter suggested. "Haymow" is simply a compound word joining "hay" and "mow," and several dictionaries I consulted list the etymology as simply that: hay + mow. As far as the pronunciation, who knows how pronunciations get changed or misconstrued. Pronunciations can also vary widely and regionally. At least one online dictionary pronounces this as "hay mow" in the traditional way we say "mow." (https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/haymow). It's pretty easy to figure out this word: you mow the hay (cut it), place it in a big pile (before bailers) and the pile is called a haymow. Or, alternatively, you call the place where the mowed hay is stored the haymow. It can be on the floor, in a loft, or anywhere hay is stored. It carried over and now would refer to a storage place for bailed hay. Stephen King once wrote quite a pretty short story (non-horror) about a pair of farm kids, brother and sister, who would climb the high ladder in the barn and repeatedly jump down and land in the haymow (in that case, a loose pile of hay on the barn floor).


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