Byron P. Ruggles (1838 – 1917)

Remember the last newsletter when we visited Snail Swamp and learned about the muck found there? Of course, muck would be a wonderful compost and Mr. Ruggles, whom I consider to be a genius , mixed it with manure to reduce the acidity, spreading it to bring back his poor farmland. Here is an excerpt from Farm Journal Dec. 1896.

” I bought my farm in the fall and had the next winter to get together my tools and stock; all of which I bought cheap at auctions. The tools were second - hand , of course, some of them requiring repairs that I made myself. I bought an old wagon that I repaired so that it lasted until I was better able to buy a new one. I borrowed a cultivator two years, then bought a set of teeth and made the rest of it. I hired a mowing machine four seasons, then I bought one , that with good care, has run twenty one seasons, and does good work yet, and so of all my farming tools, I got along at first with the least possible expense and turned the greatest amount of money I could toward paying for the farm. I began with one horse that did all of my team work except plowing and mowing when I hired another horse of a neighbor.”
Byron Ruggles in Field

This is a Byron Ruggles “trick photo” showing Mr. Ruggles doing 2 jobs at one time.

” I was decided on being a dairy farmer and bent all my energy in that direction. My plan was to keep the best of cows, that they should have plenty of good feed and good care, that I would make the best of butter, if possible, and get as high a price for it as I could , and all other branches of my farming should be subordinate.

I began with three cows for the farm had less than one hundred acres, and was so run down it would not well keep more. I hired the use of thoroughbred Jersey bulls, raised my heifer calves, named them, made pets of them, kept them pets as cows, and always call them by their names. In a few years I had some first rate high grade Jersey cows. I mowed weeds in the pasture so as to have more and better feed there. I set water tubs there so the cows would have better water to drink than the stagnant puddles that the springs really were . . .

I dug muck in the driest part of the summer from a swamp in the sheep pasture and drew it in the winter to the amount of two or three cords a year to mix with manure and have found the mixture equal to all manure. A pond formed in the swamp where I had dug muck and I found it a convenient place to get ice in the winter for my ice house; some of my neighbors saw the advantage of getting their ice there. I sawed out ice for them, more and more as the pond grew larger from digging muck. I have sawed as many as forty four cords of ice there in one winter, at seventy cents a cord.”

Reprinted from the Hartland Historical Society Newsletter, Spring 2005.

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