Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Book: "The American Farm Book"

The Lyons Press has been publishing fascinating reprints of old books on agriculture, tools and construction.

One of them, "The American Farm Book," first published in 1849 and republished in 2002, gives us a grand taste of writing and from another time as well as a good look at what farming life was like so long ago. The subtitle of the book is "A Practical Treatise on Every Staple Product of the United States, With the Best Methods of Planting, Cultivating and Preparation for Market."

Some of the topics:
How to identify the soil and know which works best with each crop
How to prepare the soil for planting and irrigation
The value of grasses and meadows
How to get rid of weeds, fungus and bugs
Ways to use wheat, barley, corn and rye
Methods to prevent decay and rot in potatoes
Advice on farm buildings fences and trees

The language of the book is really a pleasure to read. From the introduction, "This work is respectfully dedicate, with the hope that it will add its mite in sustaining and carrying forward the great agricultural improvements of the present day."

Some of the information is, without question, out of date. But as a peek at an earlier life, and for some very real practical advice, this book is wonderful. It's a great book for historians and sociologists as well as anyone doing the hard labor of running a modern American farm.

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