[Homestead] Homesteading and beyond ... was Corn Fed
Clansgian at wmconnect.com
Clansgian at wmconnect.com
Wed Jan 7 10:17:57 EST 2009
In a message dated 1/7/2009 12:01:26 AM Eastern Standard Time,
lurine at com-pair.net writes:
> Out of his 1870 journals, here's a few things he sold: mutton - $0.08/lb,
> beef - $0.07/lb, pork - $0.05-$0.10/lb, carrots & turnips - 1/2 cent/lb,
> beets, cabbage & peas - $0.01/lb, eggs - $0.25/doz., apples - $0.01/lb, soup
> bones - $0.50/pkg, mixed veggies - $0.25/basket.
> Somethings he bought: flour - $8/bbl (200 lb), sugar - 12-1/2 cents/lb,
> syrup - $4.50/keg, coffee - $0.25/lb, cornmeal - $1.75/50# sack, whiskey -
> $1/qt or $1.75/1/2 gal, calico - 12-1/2 cents/yd, gingham - $0.25/yd, shoes
> (for the boys) - $2.50/pr, overalls - $1/ea, men's boots - $5/pr, hayrakes -
> $0.75/ea, slate & 8 slate pencils - $0.25, pocket knife - $0.25-$1.75.
Lynda, execllent example for the discussion!
The items in the sold list, would you think that's "wholesale" as it were,
what he'd get selling it to a store or to individuals. Let me assume
individuals as it puts my point at a disadvantage.
In 1870 a day's wage for a trained AB man was $1. That's equivalent to about
$20/hr today or about $160. You can't compare it to minimum wage because it
was the wage that loggers, miners, teamsters, and such received which then and
now is far above the minimum (customary minimum then and enforced minimum
So from the list a pair of overalls cost a day's wages. Today a pair of
Carharts or Poiters cost about $160, also a day's wages. (Pointer overalls are
made right here in Bristol, TN so they are a good comparison). Calico at 12.5
cents would be like $20 a yard, and it would be that today if it were not made
overseas. A pocket knife at a quarter would be $40. That's what I paid for a
decent pocket knife at Christmas and they had some that sold for as much as
$300 which matches the 1870 high end. So some rough comparisons can be made
between then and now as to what things cost in terms of a full day's wages.
But look at food: Even if your family was getting retail, they were getting
the equivalent of $12 a pound! That means raising one good steer to slaughter
would bring in the equivalent of $7000. I might ask Lynn how fast she could
pay off her mortgage if she got $7000 out of every steer she raised and had no
cash expenses in doing so.
Eggs fetched the equivalent of $40. Apples $1.60 a pound. A basket of
vegetables for $40. We just bought 200 lbs of wheat (flour cost the same from
Wheat Montana) for about $100. But the 1870 equivalent price is $1200. Even if
you referenced the cost to the 2009 minimum wage (which would not be a fair
comparision), the wheat would still cost almost $500.
Or forget modern equivalents. A pair of overalls for a dozen eggs, or two
yards of cloth for a basket of vegetables. One and a half sacks of cornmeal for
a pair of shoes.
If we compare apples to apples, that is for example, modern domestically hand
made boots and shoes to 1870 domestically hand made boots and shoes, your
family journal demonstrates my main point about supporting the cash needs of a
modern homestead from farm produce. Farm produce was sharply more valuable,
relatively more valuable, then than it is now.
When I can get 1/4 day's wages for a doxen eggs or a basket of vegetables, or
I can get the price of a good used tractor and all equipment for the price of
one beef, I'm going to get into that game too, and no mistake!
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