Friday April 30th Worked in the garden awhile this
morning Mr Scott has grained the cook
room Rachel dined here & was intending to
spend the day but Mrs Packard came to Edwins
and she went back there Mrs Lincoln
passed the afternoon & Augustus to tea Abby
spent the day, was away awhile with Mrs
Clapp after some flowers. Hannah gone to Boston
The last day of the month was “a fair day + the warmest we have had this spring …,”* according to Old Oliver Ames, who also noted that he “killed 4 shoats to day.”
A shoat is a newly weaned pig that typically weighs in at about thirty pounds. It wasn’t unusual to find a farmer thinning a litter of pigs (also known as a drift of pigs) at this time of year, for different reasons. Many farmers bought shoats at this time of year to fatten up over the summer and slaughter in the fall. For reasons known only to himself, Old Oliver chose to slaughter four of his young pigs rather than sell them. Perhaps the shoats in question were unpromising specimens, or perhaps the Ames family was ready for a little fresh pork.
In the first part of the 19th century, the word “shoat” was also used as a pejorative slang term, intended to describe someone as fairly useless. To call someone a shoat was to say that he or she was dispensable and unimportant.
*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection