We set off early this morning to pick up fresh produce from Devonport, Frankford, Flowery Gully and Hillwood. It's been an amazing season for hay, with many farmers reporting nearly twice as much as their normal summer yield. Round bales littered the countryside en route like giant billiard balls, but it was the paddock of old-fashioned stocks that caught our eye. We're going to do some digging to try and track down the farmer who still harvests hay in the traditional way.
Update Monday: Just got off the phone to Pam and Bevan who own the farm where we saw these piles of stacked up hay. "Stooks, not stocks", corrects Pam. Oops, of course! Pam and Bevan are third generation farmers from East Devonport, growing cabbages for seed, poppies and hay for chaff. Which is where the stooks come in. Apparently stook hay makes better chaff. "I don't know why, I'm not a horse," said Pam. "They're fussy creatures!" Pam says her husband, Bevan, was selling chaff to some local old timers who inspired him to cut his paddock in this old-fashioned way for the first time last year. One of them had an old binder which is what's used to make the stooks. Each stook consists of six or seven stacks (or sheaves) of hay which is stood up to dry, then rounded into bales and sold for premium chaff. "It took such a long time, we thought we'd be here til June," says Pam. Friends and family pitched in, though, and now the paddock on the side of the Bass Highway is attracting tourists from near and far. "Everyone wants to take photos," says Pam, adding that the best viewing point is from the flyover - unless you can fly. That, she says, would give you the best view of all.