New Home And Bailey School Community (circa late 1930's)

Within a mile of our house, the area was very stable.  In all of the area, each farm was owned by the occupant except for two tenant farms.  The families had been in the same houses for several years.  Even the two tenant farmers had families who had been renting them for years.  We knew not only the name of the families, but also the names and approximate ages of each child.  This stable neighborhood made for almost a crime free area.  This is why a latch string on the front door was adequate.

See drawing.

Map of Neighborhood
Map of Neighborhood

Most houses and farms were located a quarter mile apart.  The farms probably averaged eighty acres each.  Surprisingly, at this time Blount County farmers only harvested less than fifteen bushels of corn per acre, and a bale of cotton per acre was outstanding.  Corn was planted in four foot rows and about three feet apart in the drill.  There was little money for fertilizer. and such a harvest was the expected norm. Fertilizer, when it was used, did not have the plant food as today's do.

In the fall the leaves of the corn stalks were pulled and tied in bundles called a fodder.  When the leaves were pulled, they were grouped together and tied with one of the leaves.  This grouping was called a hand.  After drying a suitable time, these hands were grouped together, with three forming a bundle.  They were removed from the field after the dew had fallen to keep them from shattering.  The fodder was cow feed for the winter.  This pulling of the leaves also retarded the corn harvest.  At fifteen bushels per acre, even twenty acres would yield only 300 bushels.  Probably just enough to feed the animals and furnish the family with corn meal.

In the early thirties. in an effort to increase the price of cotton, acreage controls were enacted.  The amount of cotton you could plant depended on the size of your farm and how much you had grown in the past.  The farmer was notified of his acreage allotment, and this was all he could plant.  Later the amount planted was checked by a government employee.  If the planting exceeded the allotment, the excess had to be plowed up or cut down.  I can recall ares of fields planted in cotton cut to the ground with a hay moving machine.  You did not have to participate in the program, but if you did not, you did not get a guaranteed price for your cotton.

At this time, in the thirties, all farm equipment in our area was pulled by mules or horses.  I did know of one farm that had a team of oxen.  Oxen were such ponderously slow animals that not much acreage could be plowed, but they were tremendously strong.  the only mechanical farm equipment was the mowing machine, which cut hay, the hay rake, farm wagon, and hay baler.  The hay baler utilized the pressure of mule power to compress the hay.  The hay was hauled by wagon to the baler site.  It was thrown into the hopper with a fork, then packed by foot.  The mule went round and round applying packing pressure.  The packing with the foot had to be timed so as not to get the foot caught.  Unfortunately, many men did get their feet trapped.

The bales of hay were tied with baling wire.  The were later stacked on the wagon and carried to the barn.  This entire operation was arduous work since the loose hay was heavy, and after baling each bale weighed about 60 pounds. At our place the bales had to be lifted up into the barn loft, which literally separated the men from the boys.

The area stability and continuity began to change during World War II.  The young men were drafted or volunteered for service, providing jobs for those who could leave the farm.  After the war, change became rampant.  None of the young people wanted to remain on the farm.  They had seen how the remainder of the country lived and wanted running water, indoor plumbing, and a job with a regular income.  Out of the twenty plus boys who lived in the area diagrammed on the previous page, only one remained on the farm.  He is still farming in the Snead, Alabama area.

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