Summertime at Topsmead Farm
Summer was when I spent the most time at Topsmead. In early July everyone pitched in to help with the first cutting of hay. The first cutting is the best, most nutritious hay of the year. Hay was actually the primary crop for Topsmead Farm – even more so than apples. Miss Chase grew hay for her own use at Topsmead, and she rented out several fields for other farmers to grow hay on too. Hay was stored loose in the top of the barn until we got a baler in the early 1950s.
In addition to haying, there were summer tasks such as mowing the grassy area between the roads and the stone walls. The men used a big three foot wide, walk behind Jacobson mower. Then along the sides of the lane from the house down to Underhill they used a regular lawn mower to cut a two-foot-wide boarder. The lawns around the house were cut by a Locke mower (reel type) that with side attachments could cut about a 6’ swath. My dad (John Orintas) cut the lawn around the main house and around the farm buildings.
The gardens always needed attention as different types of produce began to ripen during July. The apple trees were sprayed with lead arsenate diluted with water as a pesticide. (Note: Widely used this pesticide was finally banned in 1988.) They used a large tank sprayer pulled by a Cletrac, crawler type tractor that moved on a track like a military tank. The workmen donned heavy protective suits, that made them look like fishermen from Gloucester. They walked through the orchards with spray nozzles spraying all the apple trees.
I also have good memories of picking blueberries at a spot off Jefferson Hill Road South. There were high bush berries and low bush berries too. They were delicious, especially when my mother Isabelle would make a pie for Dad, my older brother and me.
(interviewed by Jenny Riggs)
These conversations were conducted between Bob Orintas and Jenny Riggs.