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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Guest Post by Pegg Thomas - The Farmer’s Life in Colonial Boston


The Farmer’s Life in Colonial Boston, by Pegg Thomas


Hello! It’s early you are, but no mind. Come to the house and refresh yourself. I’ll be lucky to get the milk bucket there before it freezes. Never seen such a winter as this back home. You’ve probably noticed by my talking, but me husband and I came over from Ireland. His brother came five years back and helped bring us over last summer.
Oh, and didn’t I think it grand in May! Sure, with the warm sun on my face I freckled up something fierce. But then you didn’t come to hear about that now. And where are my manners? Maggie Thornton’s the name. Me dear friend, Carrie, told me you want to learn about the life of a farmer.  Sure and I only know what I’ve learned myself so far, but happy I am to share it.

My Da’s farm in Ireland was vastly different from here. The soil outside Boston is so rocky and hard. I believe the ground grows rocks! ‘Tis only too true. Himself and I spent the first several weeks picking more stones than weeds from our poor crop. Still, they do make for a sturdy pasture fence.
His brother came and helped plant, such different crops from home. The ground is too rocky for potatoes which I had just taken a fancy to. It takes to rye, corn, and the beans and peas, of course. I thought we planted too much, but if we hadn’t we’d be in a sorry state this long winter.
Do we have any extra to sell? Bless me, no. The ground yields just enough for us and the livestock to get through the winter. Himself took a job at the docks this winter to help out. Nothing much, but better than not. He’s a good hand with wood and they aren’t short of repairs that need doing. Many have turned to fishing instead of farming but I think my Robert will stay with the land.
Give me a moment while I get the pease porrage cooking. I don’t mind telling you I’m more than a wee bit tired of it. We go through a pot full every day. It’s filling though and good for the children.
The livestock, yes, we have our milk cow of course, you saw her in the barn. Himself hitched the team to go to town. We put up a good store of hay last summer to keep them through the snows. The loft is still half full.

We keep a couple dozen hens, or try to, since the fox wants them that bad. We are keeping our ears open for a dog to help. The hens will want to start setting in a few more weeks. We’ve only a couple of young cockerels left for meat. The new chicks will be a blessing. And eggs, I do miss the fresh eggs in winter. Oh, we get a few, but only enough for the baking.
Our neighbor has pigs and we’ll buy a pair of piglets when they farrow come spring. No sense wintering over a sow until the children get bigger and we need more meat than Robert can bring in hunting. The boys will start helping with the corn this summer, they are seven and eight already. Here it is 1719, where do the years go?
How did we come by this farm? Well and that’s a long story. Himself’s brother knew the farmer here more than well. Best of friends they were. But he up and moved his family to Rutland, that new community that opened up in the Indian Territory. I’d be scared to death, I would. We were only too happy to buy this place, rocky as it is, and call it home.
Must you leave so soon? Well, and it’s a fair walk back. Blessings on you and make free to stop again.


7 comments:

  1. Pegg, what a fabulous post. Interesting about not wanting to buy a pig just yet. What's in pease porridge?

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  2. Pease porridge hot
    Pease porridge cold
    Pease porridge in the pot
    Nine days old!

    It was a staple of most low income families. Made of dried peas, generally the yellow variety, I understand it resembled a very thick split pea soup. The woman of the house would keep a pot near the stove, replenishing as needed. Perhaps that's where the "nine days old" part of the poem come in. When times were good, it might include a bit of bacon for more flavor.

    Hogs require a good amount of food through the winter months in northern climates where they can't root on their own. A farmer would buy a pair of piglets for a small family, raise them through the summer, and butcher them in the fall. If the family was large enough to need more than that, it would be more cost effective to raise their own.

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  3. Thanks for such a fun post, Pegg. I don't know a lot about farm life in New England. My studies have sorely neglected the northern colonies, except for New York. I was very pleased to make Maggie's acquaintance!

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  4. Great post, Pegg! I love Maggie's voice and hope to hear more of this family's very interesting story. You did a great job of conceiving and describing it. :-)

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  5. Thanks, ladies! I had fun with Maggie and I may have to revisit her farm in the future. She does have a story to tell... hmmm...

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    Replies
    1. We SO ENJOYED having you here PEGG!!! Come back again!!!

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  6. Welcome, Pegg. Lot's of similarities to the Scots I write about. Of Course, I have a Scots-Irish blog, but I don't get around to posting on it as much as I'd like.

    Blessings,

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