17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Friday, August 2, 1912: Had to does some work today, but I guess anyone would get tired of playing all the time. Was out helping in the field this afternoon.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
I think that I know what Grandma was doing in the fields She was probably leading horses that were pulling a roller over a recently plowed field. It probably was a field from which oats had been harvested in July.
The field would have been plowed, and a roller was smoothing the soil, so that wheat could be planted in September. Back then farmers typically followed a four-year crop rotation: corn, oats, wheat, hay.
How do I know what Grandma was doing?
Farm work varies by season—corn is planted in the spring, wheat and oats are harvested in July, and so on.
Amazingly exactly one-year prior to this diary entry on August 2, 1911 Grandma wrote about driving horse through the dust of a plowed field. That post is repeated below:
Wednesday, August 2, 1911: Took lessons in driving, but even though I would like to learn to drive, I did not like that kind of lesson for the horses were old and slow, and I had to drive them in the field behind choking clouds of dust.
I read this entry to my father and asked him what Grandma was doing. He says that she probably was using a roller on a plowed field. The roller would level the plowed earth in preparation for planting winter wheat seeds.
The horses would have been hitched to the roller and Grandma would have needed to tighten one rein or the other to make the horses go in a straight line.
I can almost picture the clouds of dust stirred up by the roller swirling around Grandma as she drove the horses.