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By Wayne Franklin

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Extra info for A Rural Carpenter's World: The Craft in a Nineteenth-Century New York Township (American Land and Life Series)

Example text

Calvin Holmes in 1855 reported owning the following livestock: 7 milch cows, 3 butter cows (which produced 300 pounds), 3 horses, 6 swine, and 63 sheep (from which he produced 43 fleeces), as well as some poultry (he sold $6 worth of eggs). Here, too, there are differences, the most significant of them being the sheep. But on the whole, during his active career as a farmer, Calvin was operating within the same range as his son, James, did twenty years later. In 1875, we may conclude, James was deriving a good deal of his support from the farm.

But Herdman also played the part of a fill-in laborer, and his work extended well beyond mere construction. On his first day he helped Holmes move hay to a rented storage barn, draw two loads of firewood to Holmes's house, and clean away one load of manure. That afternoon, and for part of the next day, the two sawed firewood. Over the next months, although he mostly did construction work, Herdman also (and often without Holmes's help) was to perform a wide array of tasks. He planted potatoes, mended fences and dressed new rails, hoed Holmes's fields, mowed hay from Holmes's meadow (with Winans on one day and with one of Holmes's neighbors, and then Holmes himself, the next week), helped Winans dig Holmes's potatoes in October (these were the ones he had helped Holmes plant in May), and then spent one of his last days husking Holmes's corn.

He helped Holmes prepare framing timbers, sided the frames once they had been erected, and put down roof boards and then shingles. Inside, he installed flooring and put up partitions, helped Holmes case the windows and doors, and on one occasion (for Holmes's house in August) mixed mortar for the plasterers. But Herdman also played the part of a fill-in laborer, and his work extended well beyond mere construction. On his first day he helped Holmes move hay to a rented storage barn, draw two loads of firewood to Holmes's house, and clean away one load of manure.

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A Rural Carpenter's World: The Craft in a Nineteenth-Century New York Township (American Land and Life Series) by Wayne Franklin


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