PEI in general is well known for its rich farming history. The Eastern Kings area is no different. Farming in the area goes back hundreds of years, to the days of early Scottish settlers. When farming began in Eastern PEI, a person did not just walk onto a piece of land and begin to plant their crops. Prior to planting the crops and harvesting the land, trees that occupied the land needed to be cleared. This was long before machines were invented to do this work. Trees were cleared by men and boys, sometimes taking ten to twelve days to cut down an acre of forest. Once the trees were cut, a large fire was made to burn the timber, called a “piling.”
Once the fields were cleared of trees and brush, farmers would begin planting their crops. Planting would begin in early May and often would continue into July. Crops that were planted and harvested included potatoes, oats, wheat, grain and hay. The crops were rotated from year to year with most fields having potatoes one year and wheat the next. The rotation of crops continued into the 1900s.
Beth Ching recalls growing up, on what would be considered a “mixed” farm, having crops (potatoes and grain) and animals (sheep, pigs, hens and horses). Mrs. Ching grew up in a time without tractors, everything was accomplished with horses. At this time most families were self-sufficient, with almost all basic needs on their own farms. Each household had their own garden to provide them with vegetables, as well as potatoes. In the winter a pig and a cow were taken to the butcher for meat: Cows provided fresh milkall year and hens provided eggs for baking and eating. All other supplies needed were bought at the local general store, these supplies included tea, sugar, and molasses, which were sold in bulk.