The Cumberland Farm
he wrote of life on the farm in his autobiography:
My father had over two hundred acres of land, including some woodlots nearly a mile away; also a saw-
mill, a cider-mill, a large stock of cattle, and of course there was no lack of employment indoors or out.
Plowing, planting, harvesting, and all the multiform activities of farm life, with accompanying incidentals,
kept all hands busy through the year. My mother used to say, when we of the younger brood complained
of being hurried up in the morning and kept snug at work through the day, "You have a much easier time
than your older brothers and sisters had, for your father has grown in years and does not drive ahead as
he did when I first came to live with him." We thought it might be true, but that was no great comfort to us,
as we still deemed ours a hard lot in the labor line.
We had a large, comfortable domicile, plenty of wholesome food, decent clothing, and the ordinary
necessaries of an agricultural family; but luxuries, fineries, and gentilities were afar off. Brown bread and
milk or porridge, different kinds of meat, rye or barley cake, coffee, cheap tea, cider, etc., were the staples
of table fare, with plenty of butter, cheese, applesauce, and simple condiments. Cakes, pies and other
home-made delicacies had their occasions, but rarely was anything very rich or of outside manufacture
furnished us. Our clothing was mostly of home production, spun and woven from flax and wool of our own
raising - the woolen cloth being fulled and dressed at mills three or four miles distant. Some extra cotton
and woolen stuffs from other sources supplemented what was made by the family, increasing rapidly as I
grew up. In my early boyhood young women pulled flax and assisted sometimes in the hayfield, but this
soon went out of fashion. The spinning wheel and loom were in vogue much longer, and their operations
in my parental household were memorable.
We were shod in those days chiefly with leather tanned at an establishment two miles away, and made
of skins from our own cattle or those obtained in barter for them. Once a year, not long before winter set
in, a shoemaker came to the house with his kit of tools on his back to do the family cobbling. He had to
stay several days, and to us, younglings, at least, he was an important personage. New boots or shoes,
and especially calf-skin ones, which, however, were rare, inspired much interest, not only in anticipation
and realization, but in the process of their manufacture. Wonderful manipulations were witnessed from
the time of taking the measure of our feet to that of trying on the finished article to see if there was a good
fit. Sometimes we were favored with a story or song, or whistled tune from the dignitary of the awl and
lapstone as the work went on. This entertaining drama ended with a settlement between father and the
craftsman, who usually received part or all of his dues in some kind of farm produce. Adin Ballou,
Autobiography of Adin Ballou, pp. 13-15.
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The Ballou family home. Ariel was Adin's father.