Diary of Marshall Fairbanks – March 6, 1878

From the years 1878 until 1888, if not longer, Marshall Fairbanks kept a daily account of life on his farm in Evans (Erie County), New York, including his accounts of the weather, money coming in and out, and any other events of interest. He wrote about driving into Buffalo to sell crops and about laborers that came to the farm to work for a few months at a time. According to the census in 1875, Marshall’s farm had expanded to 126 acres. He harvested wheat, oats, Indian corn, potatoes, peas, beans, apples, and grapes. On the farm, they also raised a small number of cattle, swine, and poultry, made butter, and sold eggs.

Mild partly clear with a south wind Webster and I went to Buffalo with the team took 18 chickens live 81 1/4 lbs of butter 9 dozen of eggs and a bushel of apples received of poltry 10cts am to $9.00 received for butter 26 cts am to $21.12 eggs at 20 cts a doz $1.80 and apples $1.25 To cash for groceries $13.80 To cash for timothy seed $8.90 shoes for Jennie $2.50 expenses, 70 cts

Broadcast Seeding Bag

Planting is a very important step in the farming process. This small seeding bag spread the grain seed out onto the field. Planting could have also been done by hand, but the seeding bag made the process much easier. This seeder is operated by a crank at the bottom. The farmer would turn the crank, the seeds would come out through the bottom of the bag, and be spread out onto the field.

Hay Knife

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.

Cheese Press

Making cheese involved several steps. First, milk was separated into liquid whey and chunky curds. The whey was drained off to leave the curds. A cheese press squeezed out the last bit of liquid, and the blocks of cheese were rubbed with lard or butter to keep out air while the cheese aged.

Butter Churn

In cool weather, cream rose to the top of the milk pan. Cream was skimmed from the top, placed in a butter churn, and stirred energetically until it became solid butter. This work was done mostly by women.