But that process is a story for another day. Today, what caught my attention is an old (1880) book I found in the UMass library stacks, called Farming for Profit (online here). Written by John Elliot Read (who claims in the introduction to be “a practical farmer, acquainted with the details of farm management, and thoroughly used to manual labor”), the book promises to show “How to Make Money and Secure Health and Happiness on the Farm.” I think it’s interesting that even a volume designed to be an “Encyclopedic” and “Comprehensive” source of “Mechanics” and “Business Principles” in 1880 puts the rural lifestyle front and center.
Farming for Profit is a fascinating combination of late-nineteenth century technique and culture—both of which can be compared with what came after. At some point, I’m going to make a more thorough study of how the two elements of farm tech and farm life changed over time. For right now, I thought these items were interesting: