vermont historical society link HISTORY PROJECT LINK INFORMATION LINK

Jay/Westfield PROJECT
Westfield Town History
Farming in the Past
Life as a farmer
Maple Sugaring
The Jay Population
Jay Peak's History
The Old Bobbin Mill
History of Schools
An Organic Farm
Henry Bedell, A
Civil War Hero
The Civil War

Farming in the Past

Through the past hundred years farming has kept people and animals alive. Now farming has become a thing of the past. But in the year 2004 the past is coming alive with restoration. I am here to tell you about farming in Westfield, Vermont, in the twentieth century.

During the early years of farming some of the tools that were used were grain drills. These were used for sowing wheat, oats, barley, corn, beans, and peas… The price range was based on how many "teeth'' that the drill had. $80 for nine teeth, $70 for seven teeth. Tools cost a lot more now then they did when farms were more popular. Another tool that was used was called a hand- held corn Sheller. You would stick the corncob into the machine, crank the handle, and the seeds would fall out of the hole on the other side.

Some of the jobs that you would have on the farm would be milking the cows and feeding the horses. You would be up from 5:00am- 8:00pm. Other jobs that had to be done on a farm were: harvesting the fields. The fields were harvested by using a horse drawn plow. Another job was grounding feed, and thrashing the corn to get it ready to be put into bags.

All of the farmers in Westfield contributed to the town. Cattle farms produced the milk, and farms with fields harvested the hay for the cows. Most farmers lived on their cows and cherished them forever. Some farms also had horses to help with hauling the logs to the Bobbin Mill and bales of hay to cattle farms.

When the farmer's children got time off they went to school. The Westfield school house was an old one room building on North Hill Road. Now the school is a rental home for tourists. The children had to walk a mile to and from school every day. Since the children couldn't go to school and work on the farm at the same time, some children were taken out of school to work on the farm. Most kids were taken out of school for good at a very young age.

When the children weren't at school they made their own fun. Some of the toys that they made were wooden dolls, fly swatters and carts to roll around in. Sometimes they got a little carried away. Clifton Kennison Jr. was ten years old when he thought an umbrella could hold him up if he fell. With an umbrella in hand he climbed up to the hayloft that was 20ft. off the ground. He jumped off of the hayloft with the umbrella open and was doing pretty well until it turned inside out and he fell into the hay below.

Around the house the farmer's wives were busy baking to do most of the baking they had to churn heavy cream to make butter. And cooked a delicious dinner for the family. But their life wasn't always spent in the house. They also had to do "the mans" work when the man wasn't available. They pitched the hay, loaded the wagons and made sure that the cows were well fed.

A lot had to be done on the farm; most of farmers' lives were spent working around the farm. A lot of work had to be done and they had to get ready for winter. During the hard winter, farmers worried because the cows were at risk of freezing to death.

As you can see, being a farmer is a lot of hard work and there isn't much time you can spend away from home. But, there's a plus side to being a farmer, you get to help the environment.