Charlotte Chicken represents the Leghorn breed, which is prized for its prolific egg laying. Carved by Gerry Holtzman and painted by Jill Irving, she represents the poultry farms of New York on the Empire State Carousel.
Almanacs were extremely popular books in the farming community, largely because of their weather predictions. Farmers would use these predictions to help plan the planting season.
In 1862, Lucy Medora Walker, a woman from Springfield (Otsego County), New York, kept a diary. In addition to recording her daily events, “Dora” kept a memorandum in the back of her diary that tracked how much of her money she spent. She earned her money by picking hops.
James Wedderspoon was an influential farmer in Otsego County, New York, in the late nineteenth century. His family farm was located near Cooperstown. The Wedderspoon farm grew hops, which was a major cash crop for New York State at that time. The 1875 New York State census shows what the Wedderspoon farm was worth and what was growing on the farm in 1874 and 1875.
In the nineteenth century, farm families spent much of their time outdoors taking care of their animals and crops. To prevent sunburn, many women wore sunbonnets, like this one, to protect their skin. It is made of cotton and is entirely hand stitched.
In 1907, when engineers at Ford first began designing a motorized agricultural machine, they referred to it as an “automobile plow.” Tractors would revolutionize farming in the twentieth century. The Ford 871 Select-O-Speed was a state-of-the-art tractor in 1959. Rated at 45 horsepower, it had ten forward speeds that could be shifted on the go. This tractor was originally purchased from R.C. Lacy Ford in Catskill, New York, by farmer Edward Phinney of Jewett, New York.
To harvest grain, the crop was usually first cut, then the grain was separated from the stalk or body of the crop. Grain cradles were used for cutting and gathering the crops. The long wooden “fingers” of the cradle gathered the straw as it was cut and deposited it in piles. The cradle was an improvement on a single blade because the fingers acted as extensions of the farmer’s arms and made harvesting a little easier.
After plowing, the large clumps of dirt needed to be broken up in order to level the field. To do this, a farmer would have used a harrow like this. The harrow would have been pulled by a strong horse or a pair of oxen. This harrow is called a folding A-frame harrow because of its shape. It has a wooden frame and metal teeth. These “teeth” did the work of breaking up the clumps of soil.
The plow was the major farm implement of the nineteenth century. A strong plow was needed to break up the soil to prepare for planting. This plow has an iron share and moldboard. The share is the sharp edge that cuts the soil, and the moldboard is the curved, metal part of the plow that turns over the soil. The beam and handles are made of wood. This is just one of many different styles of plows.
Blacksmiths working in specialized shops made many of the tools that farmers needed to work in their fields. The blade on this large hay knife was made by a blacksmith. After a wooden handle was added, the farmer used this tool to cut down tall grasses during harvest time.