|Barn on the Doyle Farm. Photo taken about 1992.|
About farm work during the fall and winter months my aunt wrote,
The farm machinery had to be checked over and repaired, if needed, before storing it for winter. The farming was all done by horses . . .The 1927 Pennsylvania Census tells me that of Gust Doyle's 140 acres he devoted 35 to corn, wheat, oats, and Irish potatoes. An additional 21 acres were given over to hay for the horses and the farm's 24 cows.
Farming with horses was labor-intensive. In addition to the work of plowing and harvesting, part of the work included the care and feeding of the animals and care of the harnesses, not to mention the work of harnessing and unharnessing the horses each day.
I wish I'd asked my aunt about the horses. Perhaps they were Belgians, like the ones shown here.
My aunt's letter continued,
. . . until we bought our first Fordson Tractor. I don’t remember when that was – about 1930 – I think.
Fordson tractors were manufactured in the U.S. from 1917 to 1920 by Henry Ford & Sons, Inc. At right is an advertisement (with enlargement below) for a new Fordson tractor from the May 27, 1918, issue of the Youngstown Vindicator.
Gust was 28 when this advertisement was published. I wonder if he learned of the tractors from a newspaper ad similar to this one or by word of mouth. Was his first view of a Fordson in Pittsburgh or another nearby city at a showing like the one advertised, at a county or state fair, or at the farm of a neighbor who had already purchased one? Did a group of farmers gather around the new machine to debate the pros and cons of a tractor over horses, or had they already made up their minds that a tractor was a definite improvement over horses, the only other considerations being repairs, buying gasoline, the cost, and having the money in one lump sum?
From my aunt's letters I know that Gust and his family already owned a Model T Ford. Perhaps he already had the skills and knowledge to keep a tractor in good running order. Unless he purchased the tractor from England, whose production of them extended from 1920, it's likely the Fordson he purchased was a used model. Even so....
How I wish I had contemporary photographs of Gust on the tractor. Lacking one, the story is less personal. Still, I'm pleased to have found bits and pieces from other resources to create the history of Gust Doyle, his farm, and a Fordson tractor.
How I wish I knew what happened to the horses.
Drive on over to Sepia Saturday 272 to see what others are sharing in this week's posts.;
Unaltered image of Belgian horses courtesy of Dave in Lincolnshire.
Color photo of Fordson tractor courtesy of Wikipedia.
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