Down on the Farm
By Earl and Mary Tripp Noble - March 1999
|Farming in the early part of the 20th
century in northern New York was quite different from
present day farming. It was a family business and quite
diversified. Farms were small, maybe 100 or 200 acres,
with 15 or 20 cows, which were milked by hand and the
milk was delivered by horse and wagon or sleigh to a
cheese factory or milk plant a few miles away.
The Noble homestead farm on the edge of Edwards village
heading towards Russell. Taken from the hill across
the road in 1910. Shows the earlier barn, the other
outbuildings and the fifth, and present, house to be
built by the family on their property.
|Almost every farmer raised chickens
and hogs and, in some cases, sheep. Of course, the family
had a big garden and raised all the vegetables they
needed, with perhaps some extra corn and potatoes to
be traded for groceries at the stores in town.
Not many groceries were needed because almost everything
necessary was raised on the farm except flour, sugar
and special treats like bananas and oranges. Even sugar
could be acquired on the farm if there were maple trees.
We kept 34 cows, more than most of our neighbors,
as well as calves, and 20 young cattle for replacements.
Because our house was the first one out of the village
on the Scotland road, we were the first to get electricity.
It cost $38.00 to get the thirteen room house wired.
There were no outlets, just a light bulb hanging from
the ceiling in each room.
At that time, 1919, the monthly electric bill was
$1.00. When we bought a two horse motor to power a milking
machine, the bill was raised to $2.00 a month, although
we couldn't use as much electricity in the winter as
that fee would allow. That was because there wasn't
much milking in winter and we did it by hand. So we
bought a battery charger to use for the radio battery.
We had acquired the radio in the late '20s.
Our farm machinery consisted of a hay wagon, a milk
wagon, a horse drawn mower, a dump rake and a horse
fork to unload hay in the barn. Also we had a plow and
a set of harrows for tilling the soil. Our four horses
provided the power to run these machines.
Earl has come from the time when hay was raked with
a dump rake and then "bunched", stacked into
piles that could be picked up with a pitchfork and lifted
onto the hay wagon.
The necessary farm wagon, drawn by the team of horses,
commonly used before the mechanization of the farm.
Shown in the picture are Warren Noble on the wagon with
his daughter, Margaret. Standing at left is Grace, sister
of Warren, and next are the parents, Emeline Cassidy
Noble and Cleland Noble.
|Then the hayloader was invented, which
was pulled behind the wagon and picked up the hay and
dropped it onto the wagon. A man stood on top of the
moving load of hay and distributed it evenly until the
load was almost top heavy. The older men couldn't keep
their balance on the moving wagon, so "tailing
the loader' became Earl's job.
Noble's old barn with the name of the farm 'Fairview
Farm' painted over the doors. Three of Earl and Mary
Noble's six children shown in the fall of 1958 on the
farm tractor - Rosemary behind with Raymond on the left
and Margaret on the right.
|In the 1950's we bought a hay baler,
which was pulled by the tractor we had bought the year
before, so the horses were no longer the main source
of power on the farm. I remember writing a check for
$2,000 to pay for the baler; the largest check I had
ever written at that time. The bales were rectangular
and weighed around 50 pounds, light enough for high
school boys to toss up onto the wagon.
Now those balers are almost obsolete and fields in
summer are dotted with huge round bales that are often
wrapped in white plastic and stored in long rows in
the field until they are needed for winter feed.
Note: The Earl Noble family descends from the 1819
Scottish immigrants to Edwards, Alexander and Agnes
Harper Noble. The farm was purchased by the immigrants
in the 1820's from Joseph Pitcairn, and through the
years the family built five different houses, from a
log cabin to frame houses, as circumstances and life
styles changed. Six generations worked the farm before
it was sold in 1972 when Earl and Mary retired and moved
to the village.