HISTORIC WELL DISCOVERED AT JACOBS FARM!
2015 was a season of many firsts, not the least of which being the arrival of pigs to the farm. Three Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs arrived in early June and quickly became the talk of Norwell Farms. They dined on windfall apples, acorns + plenty of organic vegetables. They also loved rooting around behind the barns and cleared the area of centuries worth of brambles and perennial weeds. As Scott and his Assistant Farm Manager, Seumas Trull, were disassembling the temporary pig fencing in late November after the pigs went to market, Seumas fell into a hole behind the East Barn- and discovered an old stone well that the pigs had unearthed!
After alerting the Town’s Historical Society & Historic New England, we have unearthed some interesting bits of history about Jacobs Farm. Curl up with your cup of tea and enjoy!
"Below is a description by a Turner (cousin of Jacobs) family member who last lived in the house until the 1930s. His description of the barns doesn’t include mention of a well between them…However, an archeology report from 1988 mentioned the remains of a cobbled ramp that once led to a door at the north side of the East Barn where the cows were housed. So, we might deduce that the well was used to provide water to the livestock in the 1800’s.
Turner wrote, “There was a good-sized barn with two horse stalls, a hay loft and four-wheeled buggy that was still used in the “thirties.” The cows were housed in a smaller building next to the big barn. There was barely standing-room in this damp atmosphere, heavy with the odors of tightly-packed cows and wet hay. Those two buildings [barns] were floored with heavy timbers. It was easy to slip and fall on your backside in the cow barn, built on lower ground and constantly wet. Nearby there was a piggery and a pen the adjoined a chicken coop. Another pen enclosed a bull that came and went for reasons that baffled Jannie and me [probably rented for breeding]. All of this was within 50 yards of the house.
Across Jacobs Lane facing the Scituate Road [Main St., 123], a long building housed much of the large, horse-drawn farm equipment: plows, a reaper, hay fork and rick, the name for a wagon on which the hay was loaded. Included in this inventory was a two-seated “pung,” as a horse-drawn sled was called, a large wooden apple press for cider and a foot-pumped, circular grinding stone for sharpening and honing blades. The task of turning that stone was mine when I stood around and pestered the hired hands. I would, of course, last about two minutes before near-collapse.*
My grandfather [George] may have been a man of indifferent success, but he was no fool. One of the features of the large barn was added after he studied the antiquated method of backing the hay rick up the slope to the barn floor and pitching the hay through the overhead loft door above the wagon. A large square was cut out of the second floor and pulleys and stout ropes were fastened to the corners of this platform. Carefully balanced and weighted stones were added.
At the harvest, several men would stand on the floor and lower it to the level of the hay wagon. The hay was forked from the wagon to the lowered floor and a number of men, augmented by the calculated weight of the hay, would stand on the stones. The floor would rise to its original position and the hay pitched sideways into the big loft. With equal ingenuity, he designed gravity feed pipes that were used to pour measured amounts of grain into the horse troughs, saving storage space on the ground floor and easing the job.
These operations seem primitive in the waning years of the twentieth century, but internal combustion engines and electricity were rare on small farms in the late 1800‟s. These improvements, along with others my grandfather concocted, added efficiency to farm work that had remained unchanged for generations. With the exception of the barns, Jacobs Farm was without electric power until the 1930’s.”
– reprinted with permission from the Norwell Historical Society.