By the early 1800s, family farms covered southern New England, and most of the land had been cleared of trees. For generations farmers had been cutting down trees, draining swamps, hauling rocks out of their fields, and building fences to control their livestock.FencesNew England farmers built several kinds of fences. Right here you can see "zigzag" fences (also known as "worm fences" or "Virginia rail fences") that were easy to build but used lots of wood. At the Freeman Farm you will see post and rail fences and a much tighter board fence around the garden to keep out pests. Behind the Freeman farm buildings and at the Salem Towne House and Farm, you can see stone walls, the most permanent kind of farm fence.ChangesClearing the forest was back-breaking work, done with axes, farm carts, and teams of oxen. In some towns, over 80% of the land was open by 1830. Since 1860 or so the number of farms has been declining in New England. Most of those farm fields are now forest again.