Wednesday, March 31, 2010
In the heart of tobacco country, little attention was paid to the science of raising livestock. Planters kept animals that provided food for themselves and their slaves or that otherwise earned their keep.
In 1860 the Burroughses owned 4 horses, which they sheltered in a horse barn. Besides serving as the family's transportation, they pulled plows through fields and wagonloads of cured tobacco leaves to factory. Booker T. Washington recalled taking sacks of corn on horseback to a local mill.
A few head of cattle, including "4 milch cows," appeared under Burrough's name in the 1860 county census. In warm weather milk and butter were cooled in a box through which the spring flowed. Sheep provided meat and wool. For food and bedding feathers, the Burroughses kept chickens, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl.
Salted pork, the main source of meat for slaves, came from hogs that roamed free most of the year. If the hogs wandered off their owner's lands, they often became the property of whoever found them. In late fall the hogs were fattened on corn-on of Booker's chores-and butchered. The salted meat was hung in the smokehouse to cure over a smokey fire.