Thursday, 1 December 2016

A Farm

SM Stirling, On The Oceans Of Eternity (New York, 2000), Chapter Sixteen, pp. 335-337.

Stirling presents a lengthy description of a farm. These are some of the highlights:

"...the long tree-lined graveled drive to the farmhouse." (p. 335)

"Woodsmoke wafted from the two stone chimneys, and the mouth-watering smell of bread baking." (p. 336)

"Quick-growing Babylonica willows drooped their branches into a pond where ducks and geese floated." (p. 336)

The owner claims two hundred and fifty acres cleared, "...with quiet satisfaction..." (p. 336)

Human labor and the fruits thereof.

6 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    And I noticed the "Babylonica willows" when I was reading that part of OCEANS. A tree native to Babylonia which was imported by the Nantucketers?

    I think it should be noted that Thomas Hollard was only one of the relatively few truly SUCCESSFUL settlers on Long Island. The novel mentions how others had failed and more were struggling, in between success or failure. Given time, I think more of the "strugglers" will succeed, assuming the kind of concentrated hard work and determination shown by Tom Hollard.

    Sean

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    1. Sean,
      I googled the willows and made a link.
      Paul.

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    2. Sean,
      I would not be cut out for farm management. I would have to alternate between administrative/academic work and unskilled labor.
      Paul.

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    3. Kaor, Paul!

      Nor I! Both because of age and being a city boy. It would take DESPERATION to force people like me, if still young enough, to become farmers.

      I will look up your link about the willows!

      Sean

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  2. Oddly enough, there's a consistent pattern in colonies of settlement of people from non-agricultural backgrounds -becoming- farmers.

    Eg., the Pilgrims who settled at Plymouth in 1620 were mostly weavers and town-dwellers; so were a lot of the East Anglians who came to New England in the 1630's. A lot of the first settlers in Virginia were either "gentlemen" (in 17th-century terms, people who usually didn't work, except at fighting and administration) or "broken-down tapsters and serving-men" swept up from the streets of London, or pauper apprentices or failed journeymen.

    There were farmers and farmworkers among the early settlers (the majority of English people were, then) but they were a much smaller proportion of the emigrants than they were of the population at home, though almost all of them ended up working the land. There was a continual complaint that you couldn't get skilled work done because the artisans took up land instead and stopped working at their trades as soon as they could.

    The same pattern repeated later -- a lot of Australian rural dialect words are from 18th century London thieves' cant, for instance, because that's where a lot of the people who ended up clearing brush or herding sheep came from.

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    1. Dear Mr. Stirling,

      That does surprise me a bit, that so many of the early English settlers were not ORIGINALLY farmers/farm workers. And even more so that there were shortages of craftsmen due to many of them preferring to take up land instead.

      But, a lot of what you described seem to have been, after all, voluntary. I was thinking of how, in the first few years after the Event in Nantucket, practically all of the Nantucketers (fishers aside) HAD to be farmers, simply in order to grow food. THEY would seem to have been truly driven by desperation.

      Sean

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