“Happy is the farmer who has got everything ready for the active labors of the coming season. But no matter how thoroughly he is prepared there will always be plenty to do,” the agriculture columnist wrote in the April 25th, 1874 Ticonderoga Sentinel.
The task list was long and varied in the month of getting ready to make hay while the sun shines.
“Rainy days are usually numerous this month, but you will find work that needs doing in the sheds,” the column continued. “Work to be done may be classified under three heads. First, work for rainy days; Second, work for fair days when the ground is too wet to plow; Third, regular work when the weather and land are both dry.”
Washington County farmers were optimistic about the agricultural season in 1876.
“Farmers are jubilant over the prospect of early planting and sowing this spring,” The Granville Sentinel reported on April 7th. “The ground contains very little frost, and the prospects are that the season will be an unusual forward one,” A week later, the paper reported: “We learn that several farmers in this vicinity have commenced plowing.”
On April 6th, 1877, The Granville Sentinel reported that much of Lake Champlain was clear of ice, and spring-like weather had ended maple sugaring season early.
“Farmers are engaging their help for the coming summer. Wages range from $16 to $20 a month” – the equivalent of $400 to $500 in 2021 dollars,
“Many of our farmers have planted potatoes and the oat crop is nearly sown. There is every prospect now of having an early and desirable spring,” the paper reported on April 20th.
“Pleasant weather has taken us by surprise,” the paper reported on April 27th.
Spring-like weather was a little late to come out of hiding in 1883.
“It is consoling to think that while we poor mortals in Warren County have to look upon mountains of snow on every hand, we have escaped the deep falls that have occurred elsewhere within two or three days,” The Morning Star of Glens Falls reported on April 3rd, 1883.
The ice on Lake George was still 28 inches thick at Bolton Landing on March 30th, and still “firm as ever” on Lake George and Lake Champlain on April 7th.
On April 16th, 1884, The Morning Star reported a sign of spring in Fort Edward.
“A large number of canal mules, harbingers of spring, arrived here yesterday.”
On April 3rd, 1885, The Morning Star reported: “A slight snow visited this place Monday morning. No bare ground visible as yet in Pottersville.”
Yet, the Minerva correspondent reported, ”spring weather,” and the Lake Luzerne correspondent, “No load is complete now without a bale of hay, and it is said that many a cow will chew the cud of anticipation from now until grass starts.”
On April 17th, the Hudson River was clear of ice for about three miles north of Lake Luzerne.
“Mud and snow in about equal quantities prevail at present in our streets.”
Late April remained cold, but hints of spring were seen.
April 20th: “A few are now staring their gardens by sowing onions and lettuce. Unless we have a let up on our cold nights, planting will be of little use,” the South Hartford correspondent reported.
“Ice in the West River still remains intact. This fact is still unprecedented,” the Warrensburg correspondent reported.
April 22nd: “Lake Champlain is cleared of ice as far north as Port Henry,” the Whitehall correspondent reported, the day that spring finally came out of hiding.
“The thermometer in Glens Falls ranged from eighty-two to ninety degrees above zero yesterday, and humanity perspired as freely and generally as an ordinary day,” The Morning Star reported on April 23rd.
“The thermometer registered eighty-three degrees in the shade in several places Wednesday,” the paper reported April 24th, the same day the Bolton correspondent reported, “The first arbutus of the season, from the point haunted by your correspondent, showed blossom on the 20th.”
Photo: S. Timmons farm, Walla Walla County, ca. 1892 Photo by F. Fortin, Courtesy UW Special Collections.