Sunday, September 30, 2012

Week Six Update on 18th Century Farming

Weekly Objective: To determine George Washington’s experiments and innovations.

What I did: This week I began writing on my paper. As of this point, I have gotten to page five and will definitely have the first seven pages of the rough draft completed by Sunday, which is a couple of days after my original goal. However, as you know, I did have surgery that I did not anticipate, and it threw me completely off my game! That being said, and before this, I did find it difficult to actually begin writing. This shocked me! I thought that I was ready to go because I have been so “in” to this project. But, I just ended up sitting at my computer for hours not being able to start. I would write a beginning, then erase and begin again. This happened about seven times. I have never had such a hard time before. Hmmmm.

I have also been reading my text George Washington: Farmer by Paul Leland Haworth. This particular text was written in 1915. So, it is not a primary source, and is written in a “ancient” speak. In other words, Haworth can be difficult to understand because of his wording. Also, he is definitely a George Washington promoter. In Haworth’s eyes, Washington could not have done any wrong, at least that is my take. There are many discriminatory remarks about the black slaves, which was disconcerting! Then I realized that I was going to have to look past that to get to my information because that was a different time, and the Country was still very much polarized by our races. I haven’t really gotten past that, but I think that I have at least come to an easier stance.

House on River Farm - One farm on Washington's Plantation

Discussion on this week’s text: One of the things that I realized after beginning this week’s text, is that I need to add tobacco as a crop. Washington, as well as other Virginians grew tobacco. I knew this, but had forgotten. Washington received some great stock of mules that he received from the King of Spain that he bred with his horses to receive some of the best riding animals in his opinion.  And interestingly, Washington was really interested in farming as a whole. He set up at least one experimental patch in each one of his plantations where he would use different fertilizers to see which would produce the best grain. He would also test different grains, nuts and fruit. [1]

The most interesting point that I have come across so far in all of my reading is that George Washington, the father of our country spliced fruit trees for experimental purposes! My grandparents had a small orchard on their farm, and I remember my grandfather talking about getting spliced saplings, but he never actually did the splicing. So, this was really fantastic for me to read. Washington tried to make species hardier and tastier. He had nut trees brought in from the far west (Mississippi), the deep south (Florida), and other countries (Barbados and the Mediterranean).[2]

The un-cool thing that I found out was that Washington also bred humans. Now, there wasn’t too much information on this in this book about this. I am not sure why Haworth mentions it, then backs off. I do have two more chapters to read, and there may be information in that. If so, I will try to update. And, there were mentions of purchases of white men, women and children as indentures. Two, at least, ran away and Washington put out notifications of redemption.[3]

As a side note, the farm land had been extremely cheap (comparatively) in the colonies and many people, including Washington, that kept buying up more land for farming.



Lucerne (868) – Alfalfa

Spelt (875) – A species of wheat

Harrow (894) – “An implement consisting of a heavy frame set with teeth or tines that  is dragged over plowed land to break up clods, remove weeds and cover seeds.”

Scow (966) – “A wide beamed sailing dingy – flat bottomed boat with sloping ends used as a lighter and in dredging and other harbor services.”

Hippopotamus (966) – “A horse power dredge on the Delaware River.”
Barrel Plough or Drill Plough (1008) – George Washington’s invention of a barrel mounted on a wheeled plough where holes where cut so that seed could drop into tubes that ran to the ground that also had a drag that followed that covered the seed

Originally written for class at American Military University.

[1] Paul Leland Haworth, George Washington: Farmer. 1915. Kindle Edition.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.

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