Farming Stamford in 1950: "These hills are not barren"

Proof that it really is "two rocks for every dirt." Photo of workers digging up rocks on the Taylor farm in Stamford, circa 1950.

The Delaware County New York Geneaology and History website has just re-published, free of charge, the entire text of "These Hills Are Not Barren," a memoir of the farming life in the middle of the last century in Stamford that has been out-of-print for years. The author is George D. Taylor, the patriarch of the Taylor farm, who begins his book with a description of winter weather which is uncannily familiar during these ides of March:

There is no glamour in a farm. For those who need the enticement of charm to make reading pleasant, no pursuit beyond this sentence is recommended, for this book will recite no alluring adventure. It is a story of land. As I write this, the snow lies three feet deep over the ground, and the roads and driveways and paths are filled with drifts at fantastic levels. A raging two-day blizzard brought the snow from the east, and two more days of shifting high winds piled it up. Our cars and trucks, and even the tractors, stand quietly inside. Except for sleds, taking out the milk each morning, and drawn by struggling horses, no traffic has approached or passed the farm for a week, and a look out of the window will disclose no moving thing except tree branches. Dead winter is upon us.

On behalf of the Taylor family, Rachel Pace, Taylor's granddaughter, has generously made the text of the book available for publishing on dcnyhistory.org. Pace also dug up an article about the Taylor family farm that appeared in Farm Quarterly in the fall of 1950, and she's given Donald A. Danald, working on behalf of the DCNY website, permission to post the photos from the article on Flickr.

Danald, who gave us permission to re-post some of those images here, has also written a review of Taylor's book:

It is compelling reading, narrated in the same voice as the people from which it sprang; practical, trustworthy, God-fearing, stoic, no-nonsense and delivered in crisp, plain-talk English. It's more than a history of their Century Farm (An award the Taylor Farm received from the State of New York for 100 years of continuous & successful operation), it mirrors their own unique way of life in the Catskill-foothills Dairyland for generations following the post-Revolutionary War pioneer settlements...The author very skillfully displays the timber of such folk who, for more than a century, raised our food and made the stingy, rocky soil prolific without any attempt at glorifying their lot or their personalities.

Comments

The DCNY History site is a

The DCNY History site is a tremendous resource, and this isn't the first time we've turned to it to check out some aspect of local history that can be found nowhere else on the internet. Thanks so much for your hard work -- and please feel free to let us know when you've got something new and exciting up on the site!

Also, I'm delighted there are other local history wonks out there enjoying this stuff as much as we are.