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Retrieval Number: 8317/3/1
Edward Anderson diary, February 7, 1875 - July 4, 1877. Pages 1-40 of 214
Mount Allison University Archives, Albert Anderson family fonds.
May be reproduced only with permission of Mount Allison University Archives

Many farmers kept a diary in the 19th-century, and while these are often more notable for their cryptic and prosaic information, such as weather conditions and the comings and goings of family and labourers, they do provide a glimpse of the seasonal round of activity that typified this way of life. In this diary, which begins on Sunday, February 7th 1875, Anderson paints such a picture by penning four or five lines at the end of each day. Of interest is the work being done on his hay press and the fact that the processing of hay was an activity that consumed much of the winter. Over the course of several days in February, he describes taking a pattern to Fawcetts Foundry in Sackville in order that they might produce cast iron fittings for this machine. Another member of the family works to build a scaffold around the press, and a “set of double whippletrees” used to attach horses to the machine were added. Later he describes “fixing and lowering bridge over rope and chain in press shed and afternoon got to work and put up first hay with the beater press...horse power wheel not working well.” Initially the output from the press was 7 or 8 bundles per day but on February 18th he reports making 21 bundles. Further modifications to the press wheel followed such that Anderson stated that “Think we are done repairs at present.” The following week he reports hauling a hay stack from the "low marsh" and two loads from upper barn “ [the] first from there this winter” However the press suffered further damage, in this case to the “doors,” and several days had to be devoted to repairing them. By February 26th, having worked out further modifications to the press, he was again pressing hay and “put out 22 or 23 bundles.” He was soon hauling hay from other barns and in early March the rig was moved into Amos Patterson’s portion of the barn in order that work could commence on shingling the barn end to keep snow from spoiling the hay. It is evident from later entries that Anderson’s press was being used by a variety of other farmers and suggesting that this was a commercial operation that no doubt provided him with an important income.

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