September 20, 1852

Hay

 

Monday Sept 20th  Staid at Edwins last night

and slept with Emeline as I did not like

to leave them alone  Augusta rested very

well and is much better to day.  Hannah

left this morning & Louisa McAvoy came

and she & Catherine have washed  I have

worked hard all day  Augustus’ wife called

here this afternoon

 

Worried about her neighbor, Evelina spent the night at the Edwin Gilmore house in case Augusta took a turn for the worse. Also staying there was fourteen-year old Emeline Pool, Augusta’s youngest sibling, who may have been sent up by the Pool family to sit with her ailing sister. Everyone was unnerved by Augusta’s continued illness, but in the morning Evelina was able to report that Augusta had improved.

At the Ames house, of course, and, indeed, all over town, it was washday. Servant Hannah Murphy departed, as anticipated, but the new servant, Louisa McAvoy and the remaining servant, Catharine Middleton, were on task. The washtubs were out. Evelina did her usual Monday choring and tidying, and the house stirred with activity.

Also on task were men who worked for Evelina’s father-in-law, Old Oliver Ames. They were mowing. Old Oliver reported that “this [was] a fair day part of time + cloudy a part wind southerly + midling warm  began to mow second crop to day.”*  The hay that had been sown in early August was being cut, each worker mindful of the importance of the crop. “[T]he most important matter connected with American agriculture,” declared one farming expert a decade later, “the hay crop is of more value than the cotton, the corn, or the wheat crop, or any single article of farm produce upon which the lives of three fourths of all the horses, cattle, and sheep depend from November to April.[…] Farmer! Have you thought how much depends upon the four weeks of haying time?”** Old Oliver could have answered that question with alacrity.

*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection

** Solon Robinson, Facts for Farmers, January 1865, pp. 772-773

5 thoughts on “September 20, 1852

  1. If it was the hay they already harvested once earlier, they likely did not have to seed/sow it again in August, as the normal hayfields just regrow and there is a “rowen” crop for September. They might seed new fields with a different hay crop of oats, timothy, alfalfa or whatever and get a late fall cutting, but that is a lot of work to turn the soil and put in new seed and more likely to be done after all fall harvesting is done, or so it seems to me. On the other hand, Old Oliver had a work force beyond the means of a typical New England farmer.

  2. Dwight, I dare say you’re right – a second cutting of regrown hay would make sense. What made me wonder, though, was the post on August 12th where Old Oliver refers to sowing “grass seed and turnips” in the Peckham lot. I thought that maybe the dry summer had necessitated a second sowing. But I’m no farmer (though my grandfather was, out in Missouri) and I concede lack of hard knowledge about the ins and outs of a hay crop.

    • It would be interesting know know the bounds of the Peckham lot. Mr Peckham had lived on what is now Picker Lane, as I have mentioned before. Maybe they were seeding the land that he had formerly used for his garden and hay crop. At some point there was an Ames barn at the corner of Picker and Canton Sts., a structure which, once it was abandoned, supplied some timbers for house of the late John Kent, which he built about half a mile to the east.

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