My dear uncle priest,

Will I be able to farm the land of my father?  Our family has been settled here for over 100 years. From father to son, from mother to daughter, you know that we have cleared the land, farmed and built a wooden house, followed by a large stone house. At the end of the 18th century, my grandfather took advantage of good wheat prices to become a little richer. You and your brother Joachim had had the opportunity to attend college. You have become a priest and Uncle Joachim has become a notary. The sons of farmers could finally be counted among the educated.

As you know, we have had difficulty making ends meet in recent years. In 1816, the crops were very bad. It was so cold all that summer; it even snowed in June. We did not have enough wheat to feed ourselves or to sow the following year. My father had to borrow money to buy flour and seeds for sowing.

Crops are still not as good as they were 20 years ago. It feels like the summers are getting shorter.

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How can we change things? We are still growing wheat, oats and peas, just as our great-grandparents did. The only fertilizer we have is the manure from our cattle. Since we don’t have many, we mostly use manure in the garden to grow our vegetables. We only farm half of our fields each year so that the other half can rest a little.

There are Englishmen who say we need more land, a better plough and a better harrow. But for that, we would need money. We still haven’t been able to repay the loan from 1816. It will take time to change farming here.

I hope that when I get married, the land of my ancestors will be able to feed my children. One of my cousins ​​said it would be easier to go work in the United States. I told him I would eat potatoes like the Irish before leaving my land.

Your nephew,
Philidor Quirion

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social

See also – Traces of the past:


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