As I am thinking about this haying season (and believe me, my dear bones are thinking about it!), I am reminded what a big deal hay storage has been historically, and is still. The ability to put grass by, to hold it over winter in good feeding condition, is the rock on which animal husbandry rests. If we cannot bring forage to the animals in the season when it ceases to grow, we can’t keep them. Meat, leather, milk (meaning also cheese and yogurt), wool, tallow for candles, grease for soap, and traction from beasts in harness, all these depend on keeping domestic animals. Even in our 21st century, we depend on the production of good hay to keep ourselves fed and comfortable.
in the year 113. The haystacks are to the right of the square rick of logs and left of the little tower. This is the bottom of the spiral of the column where the design depicts the troops of Trajan setting out on their expedition to conquer the Dacians. John Hungerford Pollen details this image in A Description of the Trajan Column (Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode, printers to Queen Victoria London, 1874 and made available online at
http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/ Europe/Italy/Lazio/Roma/Rome/Trajans_Column/John_ Pollen/Description/1*.html#noteAText
Text and engravings are in the public domain.). (That is a really long URL, and I haven’t figured out how to make them live yet, so you will have to paste it into your browser to find the site. Sorry.) Pollen writes, “Between the guard houses are seen stacks of forage brought to a sharp point, and thatched with reeds or rushes of some length, the length lapping carefully over each other down to the ground. Besides corn and hay, firewood is piled up in logs, carefully cut and laid in opposite courses.” When Pollen says “corn,” he is not referring to corn on the cob, but to grain crops in general. Because it’s a little hard to make out the structure of the haystacks in this photo, here is a line drawing of the same scene:
It is provided by the McMaster Trajan Project: http://cheiron.humanities.mcmaster.ca/~trajan/index.html
Imagine what an army it was, to carry its hay and grain and wood with it on campaign. But how else could they have kept the stock alive and strong? Later in the carving you can see how the provisions were loaded onto boats, and later still there is a scene of soldiers clearing forest and carrying logs from conquered lands; in the background are more haystacks.
Since these are competent, carefully made stacks already in the second century, we can guess the technique was perfected long before that.