Mid-Eighteenth Century Pennsylvania
Moravian Diaries Reveal Economic Status
Moravian diaries disclose that this type of reaction was fairly common; they also revealed extreme poverty. When Moravian missionaries stopped by the home of John Hillman in 1754, an early settler in Northampton County, they noted, We found their children very poorly clad, so poorly they would not let themselves be seen. Some of the older ones had taken the younger ones on their laps to hid their poverty in clothing.  At the home of Philip Serfass, a neighbor, they invited the family to a service that was going to be held the following Sunday but The parents said that some of the children had no shoes and would not be able to come. 
A journal entry dated January 2, 1749, said it this way, News came that the wife of a New England man had been delivered of twin sons without the assistance of a midwife. The children were hearty, but there was nothing in the house with which to cloth one of the twins, and as for the mother, there was nothing to eat except for some dry Indian bread.  The mother was prepared for the birth of one child only!
Most farmers did not construct a stable or barn until some years after starting a farm, according to one observer in 1724.  Another eighteenth-century observer commented that the absence of barns and stables probably had stemmed from the fact that there was scarcely three of four days of really cold weather.  An alternative explanation is also possible: The absence of barns and stables may have meant that a house, and clearing the land of trees, had a higher priority. These early German settlers had no time or energy left to construct a barn. During the initial stages of settlement, the barn was probably considered a luxury and obviously came later, because eventually they were built.
The reader may be asking what happened to the livestock without barns? Cows were either chained to a post or allowed to roam free. In the evening a member of the family would travel into the forest to bring the cow(s) in for milking. Some farmers put bells on them so they could be more easily located.  Pigs also roamed free through the forest, where they could forage on roots, nuts, and berries. In Philadelphia, interestingly, pigs were allowed to roam free to forage on garbage. 
Perhaps one of Mittelbergers more interesting observations relates to chickens. In this country the chickens are not put in houses at night nor are they looked after but they sit summer and winter upon trees near houses. Every morning many a tree is so full of chickens that the boughs bend beneath them.  He went on to observe that beasts of prey were not a problem as every farmer had a big dog that roamed the premises. The reader may at this point is probably wondering, what happened to the eggs?
Estate Inventories Describe Farmsteads
Scholars have been able to well describe the typical Pennsylvania farm through a careful analysis of estate inventories and other records. Almost all farmers raised livestock that included the previously noted horses, cows, sheep, fowl, and hogs. One study said Pennsylvania farmers kept more horses than their Virginia, Maryland, or New England counterparts.  Sheep, raised more for wool than for mutton, were not that plentiful. Mittelberger did observe, the sheep are larger than the German ones and have generally two lambs a year.  Swine, bees, and fowl were widespread. Most families consumed more pork than beef, but the numbers of hogs raised is not certain because they were not taxed. Mittelberger noted most farms possessed five to ten hogs.  Other information on the number of hogs maintained comes from inventories of estates. Pennsylvania farmers raised and used chickens and other fowl in substantial quantities. Because they were not taxed and inventoried as part of the probate process, it is difficult to determine the actual number of chickens. 
One scholar concluded that a typical eighteenth-century farm in southeastern Pennsylvania contained about one hundred twenty-five acres , twenty-six acres typically devoted to raising graina crop used to feed livestock and for baking bread.  As a grain, wheat was the cash crop for most Pennsylvania farmers; any surplus was sold on the open market to raise cash to purchase other items necessary for the operation of the farm or for domestic life. Eight or nine acres on the farm were given over to the cultivation of flax, vegetables, and fruits.  The meadow, a source of hay for cattle, contained thirteen to fifteen acres.  Thus, a farmer in mid-eighteenth century Pennsylvania needed fifty acres of cleared land to have sufficient acreage for a crop that could provide needed revenue and meet the needs of his family and his livestock.
Flour and gristmills played a very important role in the lives of all early settlers. Flourmills were as important to people living in the eighteenth-century as grocery stores are to people living in the twentieth. The reason being, bread made from wheat or rye, was a stable of a typical eighteenth-century diet. A 1728 German diarist recorded that wheat bread was eaten almost everywhere.