The History of Ashland Farming
by Michelle Fancher
Early l7th and l8th Century farmers endured very rough pioneer life while adapting to the new environment of the Catskills. Many began their farms alone, clearing land and building their homes by themselves, sending for their families once established. Harnessing oxen and horses for power, they used crude wooden plows to carve out fields for crops, however, much of the land was so rocky that many raised sheep.
Many early crops consisted of wheat, corn, oats, and barley. Those crops were all sowed by hand, cultivated with a hoe, hand-cut with a sickle and threshed using a flail. Not until the late 18th century were many machines such as the cradle and scythe, cotton gin and cast iron plow invented to make the farmer's lives easier.