Old-Tine Farm Life

Footnotes to Long Island History

Old Time Farm Life
August 27, 1953


Thomas R. Bayles

       Life on a typical farm at the end of the nineteenth century is graphically depicted in these passages from the diary of a North Shore farmers wife, which were entered in 1879. In addition to her housekeeping chores she was also postmistress of her village.

        "Wednesday June 11, 1879. Clear and warm. Thundered and lightened last night. Joseph carted wood al day.

          "Thursday June 12. Joseph commenced to put paris green on potatoes. Father and Joseph got a load of wood in the Afternoon. Frank planted white beans.

         "June 23, Joseph worked in his beets in the morning. Father and he went after a load of wood in the afternoon  and worked in the lima beans. Had cherry pie for the first today.

          "June 28. Joseph, father and Frank finished raking hay this afternoon. Got the clover hay all in.

         "July 3. Joseph commenced to cradle wheat. In the afternoon he and father went to Port Jefferson. Joseph bound and carted in 9 shocks of wheat.

        "July 11. Joseph and father stacked the rye.

         "July 14. A lovely day. Father went to mill (Yaphank). Joseph and Frank threshed rye. Had pork, potatoes, beets and blackberry pie for dinner. For tea had bread, biscuit, soft sugar cake, ginger nuts, prunes, dried apples and smoked beef. Had 33 letters today ( received in post office).

         "July 23. Joseph cradled oats in morning and bound up oats in the afternoon. Mother went in to see Hannah. Bennie went to harbor a gunning with Arthur in the afternoon.

         "Sunday July 27. Joseph, mother and Frank went to church and at the Academy. Mrs. Noah Jones sat awhile with us this afternoon.

          "July 28. Joseph finished cradling oats. Bound some and carted some in. Had 43 shock of oats. Joseph dug potatoes in the south lot.

          "August 1. Joseph and Frank dug potatoes in south lot and carted three loads manure in morning. In the afternoon threshed timothy seed. (threshing was done with old fashioned hand flail.)

          "August 2. Joseph and Frank carted 13 loads of manure from landing. (came by sloop from New York to Sound Beach.)

          "August 9. Had a ripe water melon for first today, also ripe tomatoes for first.

          "August 15. We had chicken, boiled corn. potatoes, corn starch and watermelon for dinner. We all rode down to the beach and lower lot in afternoon. Then Joseph took Frank and Lydia Ann to Nancy's. I went to Mr. Helme's and made a call this evening. Aunt Fanny and Stephen came down for a while. (people had more time to  make neighborly visits in those days.)

           "August 29. Father went to mill at Yaphank. Clear and quite warm. In the afternoon I went to Mrs. Marshall's and Lydia fixed my bonnet. In the evening Mattie Millard came to the office (post office) and sat awhile with us.

          "September 6. Joseph commenced to plow for wheat in morning. We had chicken, roast, beef, beets, stewed tomatoes and pumpkin pie for dinner. Joseph and father spread manure in the afternoon.

         "September 9. Joseph and Frank went on the meadows and father picked dry beans. Frank helped John thresh. Had 26 letters to mail.

          "September 23. Joseph sowed the wheat this morning and commenced to plow for rye. In the afternoon carried potatoes from under the granary and put them down the cellar. It is cold and raw. I did grape preserves and went in to see Hannah this afternoon.

          "October 1, Made green tomato pickles and pickled pairs. Joseph and Father went into the woods and got a load of firewood and in the afternoon carted salt hay.

           "October 8. Clear and warm. Father and mother started at 12 o'clock to take the cars to Brooklyn. Joseph got back from station 2:30 o'clock . I baked churned and cooked rabbit for dinner.

           "October 22. Our folks husked corn, and Joseph took up my flowers from the garden and put them in pots. Father an Frank went clamming and got a bushel.

            "October 25. Clear and cold. Froze last night. our folks finished husking corn. Pulled beets in the afternoon. Had 68 bushels. Sold Morse six hens. They weighed 25 pounds at seven cents a pound. I baked bread, Biscuits, pumpkin pie and soft sugar cake. We had bread, biscuit, crullers, soft sugar cakes, citron preserves, apple sauce and cold roast beef for tea.

            "Sunday November 1. Froze last night and is cold today. Joseph, Mother, Frank and I went to church and  Joseph went to meeting in the evening.

              "November 3. Had a snow squall today. Father went to Port Jefferson and had the farm wagon mended. Carried our dried lima beans to go down in the packet to market. Had 24 quarts. Sold seven of my ducks. They weighed 30 pounds and came to $2.50 at eight and a half cents a pound. Benjamin Tuthill called and paid father for his wood.

              "November 7. Rained last night but has been warm and pleasant today. Our folks went and got a load of wood this morning, and in the afternoon to the harbor for a load of drift and some clams. I finished my brown dress. Sold two roosters at 8 cents a pound. They came to 60 cents.

               "November 12. Father an Joseph and Frank went to the harbor and Joseph and Frank went in the woods for a load of firewood. in the afternoon mother went to the sewing at academy and I went to Port Jefferson and selected a bonnet at Mrs. Dayton's.

              "November 24. We killed our hogs. Sam butchered. Had three letters to register in post office. I went in to Hannah's to see Maria in Afternoon.

               "November 26. Made sausages and boiled the plucks. Made 65 pounds sausage.

                "Thursday November 27. Thanksgiving; father, Mother and Joseph went to church. We were invited to Mr. Helmes' for dinner. Joseph staid and kept post office. We had roast ducks and chickens, turnips and potatoes, boiled onions, cranberries, tomatoes, pickles, huckleberry and apple pie, tea and coffee.

                "December 4. Joseph went to the harbor and got a load of litter and trimmed the grape vines. Got the returns of my lima beans 24 quarts at eight and a half cents a quart.

                "December 11. Joseph carted a load of chestnut trimmings from Aunt Fanny's woods in morning and went to harbor for a load of salt hay in afternoon. Mother cut out a flannel coat for him and I sewed some on it. Mr. Wells called and we bought paper and pen holders.

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