Diaries of T. N. Smith
Kanona, New York
This month I will start with my summary of the diary entries, as follows:
1. Democrat meeting in Kanona. T. N. was there.
2. "Clear the corn field," of remaining shocks and husked corn and "turn the cattle in at night"—probably to cleanup any parts of corn remaining.
3. "To mill" to get wheat ground, also "corn & oats for feed." Political speech in Bath in evening he describes as "brilliant, forceable (sic) and convincing; a very fine oratorical address. One of the best orators I have ever heard." (High praise in anyone's book!)
4. Church. Also a loan payment received.
5. Nellis's business in Bath—receiving payments & selling potatoes.
6. Election Day. T. N. in attendance, recorded votes.
7. Horses shod in Kanona. Myron returns to work after 31/2 day break duly noted in diary. He plows.
8. Myron plows. Put apples in cellar, corn in "cornhouse."
9. Potatoes to market in Kanona. Also "We bury one pit of potatoes, mostly small ones. In the north pit about 40 bushels nearly all Burbanks and good for seed with some good size for table use."
10. Warm. Thunder shower. "Put apples & potatoes in cellar."
11. Church. "Very cold west wind blows all day. Roads muddy & bad."
12. Myron plows all day. To Bath "to see about Hops & c. "Turn 6 calves into buckwheat stubble. Froze some last night."
13. Selling cabbage in Kanona from Nellis farm.
14. To Avoca, "sort & draw to Nellis farm 2 loads irons from burned machines. Sell corn from Nellis farm. Weather clear & drying, but "roads to Avoca very bad in spots."
15. Myron husks corn, T. N. sorts & sells "Nellis irons."
16. Sold Nellis stove, received loan payments, husked & hauled corn.
17. Harvested more Nellis cabbage, put into barn basement. Froze hard.
18. Not to church. Froze hard but thaws during day.
19. "Gather sweet turnips & put them in cellar" besides numerous odds & ends done.
20. Myron plows all day. Moved Nellis cabbage to "barn basement"—his own, must be.
21. Sold 2 tubs of butter and 154 chickens. Moved cabbage & turnips into cellar, also stored beets. "Will freeze hard tonight."
22. "We butcher our hogs (4 spring pigs). 2 weigh 200# each and 2 100# each." (Must have been of 2 different ages.) Hired a helper whom he paid with "rough meat." Sold 1 hog @ 71/2 cents a pound. It did in fact freeze hard "last night."
23. 10º F. in A.M. Hauled 2 loads manure and put it on top of potato pits. (For extra insulation.) Sold some Nellis cabbage.
24. Sold more cabbage. Loan transactions.
25. Cold. Mother away, T. N. dinner guest of neighbor.
26. Sold cabbage in Hammondsport, 600 heads. Rain, snow, "walking slippery."
27. Inch of snow "several sleighs out." Myron husks corn.
28. More snow. Collected loan payments, sold apples, potatoes and 17 sheep.
29. Snows, thaws, rains. Sold corn & wood. Myron husks corn. Wash Nellis carriage.
30. To Avoca, get load of harrows belonging to Nellis Estate and leave them at farm. (Nellis must have made and/or sold farm machinery. If so, that could explain "irons" hauled from Avoca November 14.) Month ended with "rainy squalls."
As you see, November, 1888, was for T. N. Smith a month of many, many, not-so-big details, even though I have not included them all in my summary, citing just enough, in most cases, to give the "flavor" of the day. There are more completely filled diary pages in November than in any preceding month—there was just such a variety of activities going on.
All of them were aimed at "buttoning up" the farm, getting ready for winter, as the month progressively chilled and warmed, chilled and warmed, getting a little closer each time until the hard freezes of its latter days. All of them, that is, except the Election, with T. N. doing his civic duty, and the plowing steadily carried on by the hired man, that being preparation for Spring 1889 planting. The cyclic nature of a farmer's year is well illustrated by November's diary, the way in which seedtime and harvest go on and on, with everything inter-related—like the potatoes buried in the pit, with some of them (living things that they are) specifically intended for next year's seed, and the plowing for next year's crops.
Church, as usual, received Smith's attention and attendance, but the Thanksgiving holiday gets not so much as one word, from which we can infer that its observance was not widespread to include everywhere as yet.
© 1995, John Rezelman