Researchers examined a sample of twelve of these forty-seven properties (twenty-five percent) in the 1783 tax assessment, and found that within each farmstead, approximately ten percent of the land was cultivated, primarily for corn, twenty-one percent was utilized for hay meadow, and sixty-nine percent consisted of pasture for cows and sheep. Almost 100 percent of each farm at this time was being used for agricultural purposes. Itis uncertain as to what extent mutton, wool, and dairy products remained commercial items during this time. Very few sheep were reported. This may reflect the use of sheep as a primary food source during the British occupation or perhaps an adaptation to post-war conditions that affected the island’s agricultural economy.
According to W.L. Watson’s History of Jamestown on Conanicut Island in the State of Rhode Island, after the American Revolution, “…Jamestown was not only ruined, it was practically depopulated. Those who remained were farmers and their only hope for a living was to get it out of the ground. This they resolutely set out to do. Sheep provided meat and wool, spinning wheels were always humming making yarn, the hand looms wove blankets and lindsey-woolsey which was cut up and made into clothes. They also grew flax and wove their own linens. Pigs provided hams (which were smoked with corn- cobs and cured by hand), sausage, lard and mince pies; apples were cut up and dried and also made into cider; geese provided meat and feathers for feather beds. The milk house of an average farm in early winter would reveal a side or two of beef and mutton, many bags of sausage, tubs of butter and lard, bags of dried apples and a hundred or more mince pies which, with the potatoes, turnips, carrots, cabbages and the barrel of cider in the cellar, had to carry them through the winter. All the cooking was done in an open fireplace or the brick oven, and sweeping was done with turkey wings. The men spent their days cultivating the fields, raising and harvesting the crops, tending the cattle and chopping wood. The women prepared the meals, tended the house, wove cloth, knitted stockings, made clothes and found time to make samplers and do embroidery. The evenings were illuminated by candles dipped or molded of mutton fat. The farm seemed to provide everything except boots and shoes. Such was the life of the average Jamestown farmer for the next three generations. They had no illusions. They were sufficient unto themselves, raised their families and provided for them out of the land they cultivated.”