Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

Farming in Plymouth

I wish you might have seen how different to that which is the custom in Scrooby, was our farming done on the first season after we came ashore from the Mayflower. Because of having no working cattle with which to plough, the men were forced to dig up the ground with spades, and weary labor it was. Those of our people who were well enough to remain in the field, planted nearly twenty-six acres, six of which were sown with barley and peas, while the remainder was given over to Indian corn.

Squanto showed us how this last should be done, and, strange as it may seem to you in England, he used fish with which to enrich the land, putting three small ones in each hill.

You must know that all of us children, and the women, work at the planting of this corn, for it is the only kind of food to be had which can be kept throughout the year without danger of being spoiled, and when one grows weary with the task, it is only needed to bring to mind our hunger when we first came ashore.

Perhaps you may wonder where we got so much of the corn for seed. It has all come from the Indians in one way or another. Some of it Squanto brought from Massasoit's people; but a goodly portion has been found on the graves, of which there are very many near our village.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

As to planting barley and peas, Squanto knew nothing; therefore the work was done somewhat as it would have been done at home, except that the land was encumbered with rocks and trees, and we were much perplexed by lack of tools.

The seed was finally put into the ground, but even when the task had been performed to the best of our ability, it was an odd looking farm to those who had seen the fair fields of England. Large rocks stood here and there, while many stumps of trees yet remained, for our fathers had not been able to clear the land entirely. We shall have much work at harvest, in gathering the crops from amid all these unsightly things.


Front Matter

Why This Story was Written
The Leaking Speedwell
Searching for a Home
After the Storm
Wash Day
Finding the Corn
Attacked by the Savages
Building Houses
Miles Standish
The Sick People
The New Home
Master White and the Wolf
Inside of the House
A Chimney Without Bricks
Building the Fire
Master Bradford's Chimney
Scarcity of Food
A Timely Gift
The First Savage Visitor
Squanto's Story
Living in the Wilderness
The Friendly Indians
Grinding the Corn
A Visit From Massasoit
Massasoit's Promise
Massasoit's Visit Returned
The Big House Burned
The Mayflower Leaves Port
Setting the Table
What and How we Eat
Table Rules
A Pilgrim Goes Abroad
Making a Dugout
Governor Carver's Death
Bradford Chosen Governor
Farming in Plymouth
Cooking Indian Corn
The Wedding
Making Maple Syrup
Decorating the House
Trapping Wolves and Pigeons
Elder Brewster
The Visit to Massasoit
Keeping the Sabbath Holy
Making Clapboards
Cooking Pumpkins
A New Oven
Making Spoons and Dishes
The Fort and Meeting-House
The Harvest Festival
How to Play Stoolball
On Christmas Day
When the Fortune Arrived
Possibility of Another Famine
On Short Allowance
A Threatening Message
Pine Knots and Candles
Tallow From Bushes
Wicks for the Candle
Dipping the Candles
When James Runs Away
Evil-Minded Indians
Long Hours of Preaching
John Alden's Tubs
English Visitors
Visiting the Neighbors
Why More Fish are not Taken
How Wampum is Made
Ministering to Massasoit
The Plot Thwarted
The Captain's Indian
Ballots of Corn
Arrival of the Ann
Little James Comes to Port
The New Meeting-House
The Church Service
The Tithingmen
Master Winslow Brings Cows
A Real Oven
Butter and Cheese
Settlement at Wessagussett
The Village at Merrymount
The First School
Too Much Smoke
Schools Comforts
How Children Were Punished
New Villages
Making Ready for a Journey
Clothing for Salem
Food for the Journey
Before Sailing for Salem
Beginning the Journey
The Arrival at Salem
Sight-Seeking in Salem
Back to Plymouth