How did they make a living when they were a colony?

"When they were a colony"... that could apply to a lot of different places, time periods, and groups of people. And in any colony (or state, or nation, or province...) different people have different ways to make a living. However, if you are talking about anybody a century or two (or more) in the past, there wouldhave been a lot more farmers than there are now. In today's world with machines to cultivate and harvest, as well as mass marketing methods, fewer people are engaged in agriculture. In the 18th Century, for example, almost all food came from small farms.