When visiting the countryside of Austria’s Tirol keep an eye open for the “Heumandl” or the “Man of Hay.”
At first glance, this two-meter (7 feet) tall shape looks like a person standing in a farm field. When many of these shapes are together they appear like an amassed army ready to march into the village beyond.
But, look closer, these forms are actually stacks of freshly harvested hay.
A Heumandl begins with a skeletal form, called a Hiefler. The ones I saw were made of wood and had a 2-meter tall center staff that supported two sets of four ‘branches.’ Each branch group was about one-quarter and three-quarters of the way up the main staff.
At harvest time when the grass is about half a meter in height, it is cut and stacked on the Hieflers to dry. After the grass has dried it is collected and stored. During the cold wintertime, the cattle and animals can enjoy the bounty of this summer harvest.
The locals mentioned this form of harvesting hay is becoming rare; more and more it is an infrequent sight to see.
This photo was taken in July near the village of St. Sigmund im Sellrain, about 20 km (13 miles) northwest of Innsbruck.