The Back Four(ty)
The Homestead Act gave title to 160 acres of land to anyone who would live and farm a place for a certain number of years. This certainly helped to settle the country back when any area west of the Mississippi was still the "Wild West." Of those 160 acres, many farms had a portion of land located away from the road, buildings, and the prying eyes of the neighbors that was lovingly referred to as "The Back Forty." These acres might have been the roughest areas of the farm, or literally the back-most area of the farm.
At our site north of Tipton, we don't have 40 acres total, but we do have 4 acres in the back of the Village that we refer to as "The Back Forty." In 2012, the Society decided to farm those four acres of the Museum/Prairie Village lot using vintage equipment, horses, and as much hand labor as we could. Half of the field will be planted to oats & alfalfa each year, and half to corn. In 2012 the oats were seeded April 7th, and the corn was planted May 15th. The photo gallery has pictures - go check it out!
In July when the oats were ripe, we used a binder owned by Chris and Steve Scheer of Lowden to cut the oats and volunteers shocked them to dry. A week later the shocks were forked onto bundle wagons and stored until our "A Day on the Prairie" event in September. We used the Scheer's thresher to seperate the oats from the straw, and used Bob Davidson's one-horse stationary baler to bale the straw. This was definitely the main event at "A Day on the Prairie" this year!
The corn was picked by hand in November. Folks "of a certain age" tell fondly of the memories brought back by the sound of corn hitting the bang boards and falling into the wagon.
The horses used are owned by Bob & Alice Whitlatch, and Bob, Mary, Richard, and Cindy Davidson. Most of the eqipment was donated by Keith and Bob Whitlatch, with notable exceptions of the binder and thresher from the Scheer brothers, and two lovely high-wheel wagons and a corn sheller donated by Rolland and Ann McNee.
THANK YOU to all who donated their equipment and their time this year - you helped us attain huge success. We will be farming it again in 2013, so we hope you'll all come back and help!