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From an old friend
Detecting Farm Fields By Ron Trudelle  
  There are two times a year I really look forward to and its not Thanksgiving or Christmas, it’s when the farmers cut their hay fields. This is usually done in late June and September and as soon as they are cut and bailed up, I’m on them like a dog on a pork chop. This is the time when you can get the best depth out of your machine as the new-mown hay is 1-2”high. I have hunted fields in the spring when the hay is flattened by the snow (when we have it) but there is still 3-4” between the flattened stock and the dirt and every inch counts. 
 In New Hampshire, fields are everywhere you look and most of them date back to the early 1800’s and even the 1700’s. In the mid 1800’s, almost 80% of our state was cleared for fields. People needed the trees for everything from clothespins to firewood, sheep needed pasture to graze on and property lines were marked with stones dug up in fields. After the sheep craze died out, most  fields were used for hay or cornfields as they still are today.  When I’m out hunting a field, I can’t help but think about the huge amount of time and labor it must have taken to turn a virgin forest into an emerald field of timothy or alfalfa or flax. This was after the settlers dug a cellar hole by hand and built shelter. Throw in a barn or two and a vegetable garden for good measure and you come to realize what a hard day’s work meant. 
 Most of the farmers around here “turn” their fields now and then. This is done by harrowing, which turns the dirt over. Then they rake and re-seed the field. This process sometimes puts the deeper finds closer to the surface and vice versa. In a farm field, you never know how deep you will dig something or what you will pop out of the ground. I have dug coppers from the early 1800’s at depths of 2-3” and zinc Memorial cents at 8-9”.  I have also dug my share of flattened soda cans at 12” or more. These always give a good signal  and gets the blood pumping in anticipation of big silver and then I curse when I see it’s big aluminum.
 One of the best things about fields is the little amount of trash you find. Besides the occasional aluminum can, there are very few pop-tops and once in a while I find a wadded ball of foil. The main trash here is odd pieces of iron and they range from tractor parts to I also find bits of lead solder that must get shaken off haying machines. A buddy of mine found a Large Cent turned into a washer, testifying to the ingenuity and frugality of our early settlers. The small bits of trash allow you to run you machine hotter and I will run my X-Terra 70 in All Metal with the Sensitivity almost maxed out, this gives you the best depth.
  In an earlier article, I wrote that when I first searched a field, I would make a few passes around the outside perimeter, thinking that people who walked in fields would keep to the outside, nearer the woods. After a few more years of hunting under my belt, I found that there is no pattern to objects, no rhyme or reason as to where things end up. And I also noted that there is usually 5-10 feet of woods or brush between the field and the stone wall border. The early farmers would cut right up to the stone wall. When things got mechanized, farmers couldn’t get as close to the stone walls, so make sure you hunt this border if you can get in there to swing. I found a nice Cross Reale a few years back in this very area, probably overlooked by other detectorists.
  I try to run patterns across the fields, sometimes using the tractor wheel marks as a guide. It’s hard to work a field real slow and I know I tend to go a little fast at times, but with the few good signals you hear, you can afford to swing a little fast to cover more ground. On a few of my favorite fields, ones where I have found a good amount of things and if the field is small to moderate size, I will hunt at a right angle and even diagonal to my original pattern. This sometimes means going up and down a field rather than across, but the different angles will produce some good finds and allow you to search a little more thoroughly. If a coin is tilted up and down or at an angle, the detector might not give you a signal from just one direction.
  Some of my best finds have come from fields and include many King George coppers, early US coppers, a Capped Bust dime, 2 silver halves, Washington and Standing Liberty quarters, Mercury  dimes and assorted 
clad. I have also  found silver spoons, rings, jewelry, a Civil War horse rosette, a Civil War button and other things I can’t remember. 
My best field find would have to be the chopped piece of eight Reales I found in a cornfield, right on the surface. I was lucky enough to find the part with the date, 1775. The early storekeepers chopped the big silvers with a chisel to make “change”. I was hunting with Glen Watson  in a field and he found a Large Cent chopped in half to make a crude Half Cent that was a new one on me. If anyone caught Bob Lewis’ talk about his Field of Dreams at BONE 14, you will understand why fields are detectorist’s favorite places to hunt. Bob also has an interesting theory of how coins and other objects wind up in fields. He says that things were dropped in the barn itself, scooped up with the manure and spread out on the fields for fertilizer. This would explain the spoons and other utensils you find in the middle of a field. I suppose some things were just plain dropped by workers, but however they got there, we do our damnedest to find them.
  The farmers say “make hay while the sun shines”. We say, “make good finds when the hay is down”. Good luck and happ

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