Field Number 1. Struthers used to call this the long field.
The 3 fields off the Cabot Road were done in the last 30 years. I was fortunate that there were in town very capable persons to do the job. George Warner and his crew cleared the woods for 2 of the 3 fields and Bud French, Ethan Tolman, and Mike Tarr, most recently, did the rest with excavators, bull dozers and other equipment. It was a pleasure to work with all of them and very gratifying to see the finished green and productive fields.
I have been asked why the fields? There are good reasons, such as to provide for local farming and to have a more diverse habitat for birds and other wildlife. But, I must confess to this Commission, that my main motivation was aesthetic rather than agricultural. Instead of unbroken woods I wanted a more diverse landscape, a mix of woods and fields, more open spaces and views. A strong influence was my wife, Louise, who grew up on a farm in Ohio. She has been after me for years to do “MORE CLEARING!” Another influence to open up the woods was my experience in Nelson when I was a boy in the 1940’s. It was much more open then. There were more family farms and, probably more importantly, the 1938 hurricane had inflicted heavy damage. The woods were still recovering from that storm. At that time from our house on Dixon Hill looking West you could see Mt Stratton plainly, 50 miles away in Vermont, and at a middle ground distance you could see the Nelson Church steeple, the road and field by the cemetery and Betsy Street’s house. In the foreground there was a pasture with Wayland Tolman’s cows. Today there is only the very peak of Stratton visible; woods covers or obscures the rest.
Patek Field Number 2
My start in reclaiming fields began in the early 1950’s on my great aunt’s place where we now live. She had a summer cottage built in 1912 on a hillside pasture facing South which had views of Tolman Pond, Harrisville Pond and Mount Monadnock. Over 40 years the woods had grown up so that she only saw the peak of Monadnock. With the help of Bobby Curtis and his large chain saw we cleared about 250-300 feet in front of the cottage. Lo and behold much of the view came back and my great aunt was thrilled. That rewarding experience got me going on reclaiming fields.
When deciding to do the fields off the Cabot Road, I walked over the land in the winter and could see that it was not too steep and there were glimpses of distant hills and mountains, Thumb and Crochet to the East and the Green Mountains of Vermont to the West. Also, I found piles of stone indicating that the land had been previously cleared for field or pasture. At the Town office a soil survey map indicated that the land along the Cabot Road was suitable for agriculture. Thus encouraged, the decision was made and, with the good results of the first one, it was hard to stop with just one field.