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Excerpt from Charles Estep's Farm Diary, August 1884 - Primary Source
Nineteenth century farmers often kept handwritten diaries of their farming activities: planting, raising and harvesting crops. The following is an August 1884 excerpt from Charles Estep's "Farm Diary 1883-1886." His farm on Musgrove Highway later became the Fred Bulling Farm in Sebewa Township, Ionia County, Michigan. Today, farmers often keep track of their crops on computers. Historians and scientists use diaries and
computer print-outs to study farming practices and trends over time.
Charles Estep's complete diary is in the Archives of Michigan.
Vocabulary words appear in bold and are defined at the end of the excerpt.
Friday, August 1st, 1884. Perry cut some oats yesterday. He came over this morning. I went out and found they were too green and got him to wait until next week. I worked in the corn a little and bound up some oats.
Saturday, 2nd. I cultivated corn this forenoon. Afternoon I bound what oats that were cut. I patched a little fence. I went to see Bro Lapo. He is very low. He cannot speak out loud. We went to the Corners.
Sunday, 3rd. I went to Sunday School and to prayer meeting. Attendance was fair. My teeth do not fit as well as they did before.
Monday, 4th. I cultivated corn until supper time. I took Dora over to Soule's at noon. Perry Arnold cut some oats today. It has been showery rather this afternoon so I have not bound any oats today.
Tuesday, 5th. A little showery this forenoon. I handled over some manure. Perry helped me part of the forenoon. Afternoon he cut and I bound oats.
Wednesday, 6th. Perry is not here today. I helped S. Otto to thresh some this morning. The machine broke. I did not go back to help finish up. I bound oats the balance of the day.
Thursday, 7th. My cattle got into Brownfield's corn yesterday after supper. Today I drew some rails and fixed the fence higher part of the way. I finished binding all the oats that are cut.
Friday, 8th. Perry finished cradling the oats today. I went to Portland to take my teeth to have them fixed over. They are worse than ever they were. He is going to reset them again. Ella Estep rode out to Father's with me.
Saturday, 9th. This forenoon I moved some manure. I finished fixing the line fence and bound oats. Afternoon I finished binding and shocking my oats and moved a little manure. In the evening we went down to John's to hear about Wallace. He had sold his farm and is going to Kansas.
Sunday, 10th. I went to prayer meeting. We had a good meeting and good Sunday
Monday, August 11th, 1884. Today I moved some manure so I could get a place to stack my straw. Also I set some posts and put rails over the top so as to cover with straw for a calf shed. It sprinkled a little this morning. Nora was here a little while this evening. They have disposed of their place and are going to Kansas.
Tuesday, 12th. This forenoon I drew a load of lumber for the parsonage. Afternoon I went to Portland and got my teeth again. They fit very well this time. Ella Estep rode home with me and came back again.
Wednesday, 13th. I drew sand for the parsonage today. Bro Carter drew with his team. Bro. Yager and Bro. Dietrich helped to get it out of the pit. I broke a tire on my last load and went over to Luke LaLonges (West Sebewa) and got it fixed, I borrowed a wheel of Austin.
Thursday, 14th. George Baldwin helped me draw my oats today. We had seven loads. Part of them were wet yet.
Friday, 15th. I did but little today. I finished the oat stack, marked out a headland, set a stump on fire and the fire ran all over the piece. In the afternoon my head ached, so I did not work.
Saturday, 16th. This forenoon I picked up a load of stones and plowed. In the afternoon I went to the Covenant meeting. This evening I went to Sebewa Corners. It has been extremely warm for a few days.
Sunday, 17th. I attended Sunday School and prayer meeting. Our attendance was very light today.
Monday, l8th. This forenoon I plowed and picked up a load of stone. Afternoon fire broke out in my meadow and got into the corner of the woods and burned quite a lot of fence. I had Mr. Leak, Mr. Day, George and Charley Lapo to help me. It was a hard job.
Tuesday, 19th. Today I plowed and picked up stone. I am plowing my oat stubble. The weather is very warm and very dry.
Wednesday, 20th. This forenoon I plowed and picked up a load of stone. Afternoon I went down home to see if they wanted me to help them thresh.
Thursday, 21st. I went down home and helped thresh part of the day. The rest I picked stone and plowed. Father and Bion had 971 bushels of wheat.
Friday, 22nd. I picked up a load of stone and plowed today.
Saturday, 23rd. Foe was sick all night last night. After breakfast I went down and got Mrs. VanHouten to come and see her. She said we had better send for a doctor right away, so I went down home and started Bion after the doctor and got Mother. Then I went and got Mrs. D. Leak. In the meantime Mrs. Olry came. Dr. Smith came at two o'clock. At about four o'clock our baby was born, a bouncing healthy boy of 8 and 3/4 pounds. Foe was very sick, indeed. Mother stays all night.
Sunday, 24th. Father came down this morning and spent the day. Lil Leak went to Sunday School and opened the church. In the afternoon, Mrs. Lawrence, Mrs. Olry, Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Maggie Leak, Miss Anna and Della Aves, Miss Sayer, Dora, Libbie and Hattie and Glenn called.
Monday, August 25, 1884. It rained a very little this morning. I took Mrs. Olry home. She stayed all night last night. I went to the corners and got home after two o'clock. I mowed some weeds after I ate my dinner. Foe and baby are smart.
Tuesday, 26th. I helped George Baldwin to log today. It has been a nice cool day to Work. Mars. Farrel and Mrs. Olry called this evening.
Wednesday, 27th. I finished plowing for wheat today. I only planted my oat stubble of six acres. I expect to put 9 acres of corn [in the] ground.
Thursday, 28th. I was down to Mr. Ralstons and borrowed a baby crib. I borrowed a drag down home. I went out and dragged a while. It commenced to rain too hard to work most of the time. I went and got Mrs. D. Leak to come and dress the baby.
Friday, 29th. I picked up chunks and dragged today. It has been quite warm for a team today. Foe and the baby still keep smart.
Saturday, 30th. I fixed up some fence today that we tore down when the fire broke out and dragged. I have got my oat ground piece dragged both ways. It looks very well.
Sunday, 31st. I wrote a letter to Christopher Leak this morning, then I went to prayer meeting and Sunday School. We had a good meeting today. We had a fair attendance. Maud and Louis Estep were here this afternoon, also Lil and Hattie and also Lute, Louise, Ezzie and Hugh and Rose Dietrich were here this morning.
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