Did Farming Pay in 1879?



Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Life on a farm in the 1800s was not easy. Farming tools were mostly simple, hand held iron devices. Some examples include the Scythe (a sharp curved blade at the end of a pole used to harvest grain), a cultivator (a horse-drawn plow with six blades that digs furrows where seeds can be planted), and a flail (a tool to separate the seeds from the other particles of the grain). Around the middle part of the 1800s, most farmers in the Midwest lived in single room log cabins.

Injuries were very common while farming with these tools. Though these injuries occurred, at least the soil was very rich and full of nutrients. One major development is the use of horse-drawn tools like the Combine (a tool that can cut and thresh a field of grain at the same time). Above all other technological developments in farming was the invention of the steel plow. This new tool had sharper blades that cut through the thick prairie roots found throughout the Midwest. Another important tool that defined this period farming was the reaper, a device that could cut grain better than the scythe.In the early 1800s, most farmers worked an average of fifty acres which by the early 1900s had tripled to 150 acres.

turkeyday*Luella Mains in 1945 on the Mains farm, 6th Line of Beckwith–Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum


Does Farming Pay?  From the Almonte Gazette 1880

This question has been asked many times, and I wish to give you my answer.

And here is the account from my ledger for 1879:

$17—To man ploughing
$28—To boy riding horse, cultivating until Oct. 2

$19—To implements bought, rollers,

$9 Feb. 11—Tore-shoes in bob-sleighs
$5- 10 bushels Western corn feed
$5 -14 bushels seed barley
3 bushels mangolds/chard bought
for feed…………………………$ 75
halter for borse……………….. $1. 50

timothy seed for seeding down 2.50
clover……… 3.00
corn for horse and pig feed… 3.05
7 bushels of corn for feed….. 4.20
service of boar pig……………. 1.00
carrots and mangolds bought 200
To corn for feed…………………….. 2.10
repairing wagon……………… 4.75
corn for feed…………………… 3 .70
To man hoeing, $1, boy riding 1. 25
To man hoeing corn & mangolds 4. 80
harvesting and threshing…. 50.00
To man pulling mustard……….. 1.10
two days threshing…………… 18.00
To taxes for 1879…… ……………. 28.35
To man harvesting…………….. 1.50
To rent of 50 acres at $6 per acre 300.00
man’s wages for the year … 150.00
pasture for cow……. ………… 7.00
pig sold………………………….. 14.00

The stock is improving,and is really worth more. Mr. Editor, I am so determined.
Up to this point I have not yet told the whole story of my farming for 1879. Consider that I have a family of six persons and for this purpose have kept large lots of produce unsold
as follows:

oats on hand at 35c………… ……
carrots on band at 10c…………..
700 bushels of mangolds on band at 8c…………
200 bushels corn on band at 25c……………….. so oo
10 tons of hay on band, at 5 per ton…… 50 00
Wheat for grists for bread, at $135

snowaaaa*Howard Mains used his tractor to clear the barnyard of his Beckwith farm in January 1946–Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum


Read the Almonte Gazette 1880

More information about Luella Featherston Mains

Bill’s interest in genealogy started with two cardboard boxes of photos and family memorabilia which he acquired following the death of his grandmother, Luella (Featherston) Mains.  Among other things, the box contained May  Bradley’s 1965 history of the Seabrook family and a family tree of the John Mains family, written by Jean (Mrs. Alton) Mains.
As well as his Mains ancestors he traces his roots in the Featherston, Morton, Seabrook, Cathcart and McCaffrey families, all of whom were among the early settlers of Goulbourn Township.

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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