The current setting of this book is a fantasy world, and its technological advancement is pre-industrial, similar to that of Renaissance England. As I wrote the start of a new chapter, my characters had to go fetch some hay. Not a terribly difficult task, even if they are centaurs,* or so I thought.
I wrote something like, "They cantered up the road to bring back some bales of hay." (Pulitzer worthy, don't you think?) Then I realized that baling of hay didn't happen until there were machines to help, and this society would not have that technology.
A Google search led me first to a site describing early harvesting in England and suggested the word "pook." I loved the sound of that and looked it up. It's definition was extremely helpful: "a haycock." What the heck is a haycock? I discovered it's "a small conical pile of hay stacked in a hayfield awaiting removal to a barn." I'd learned something fun, but pook wasn't the word I wanted, so I kept digging.
Oddly, I came across a site specifically designed to advise writers of fantasy fiction that's set in pre-industrial worlds to avoid using the word "bale" when their characters get hay. (Apparently, there's a lot of hay gathering going on in fantasy fiction.) I thought running across that article was rather strange, but I kept looking.
Of course, my next thought was, "Wait. What season is it in the story? If it isn't fall, the sheaves won't still be in the fields . . . or will they?"
The entanglements resulting from one tiny word seem endless, but they're also great fun. In the end, the centaurs did finally manage to canter up the road on a fine, fall day and bring in the sheaves of hay using travois, or sleds, they pulled behind them. Hooray!