A bank has agreed to delay temporarily the eviction of a black farmer from land his family had owned since the Civil War, ending a day-long standoff between a sheriff and armed activists who vowed to defend the property.

The farmer, Oscar Lorick, 66, told reporters he was glad the dispute had been settled without bloodshed. He and his wife Virginia had said earlier they were prepared to die in defense of their 80-acre farm. The couple has five grown children.

"I am too old to do anything else," said Lorick. "I've spent my whole life farming right here."

NAACP attorney Alvin McDougald announced the agreement delaying the eviction Friday night at the Bleckley County Courthouse.

The farmer blamed his financial problems on a few bad crops and claimed he had been cheated because he can neither read nor write. His farm equipment was auctioned off in 1984 and the Cook Banking Co. foreclosed on his property in March. A bank official said Lorick owes $121,000 on the farm.

Farm activist Tommy Kersey, a leader in the tractorcade protests of the late 1970s, was among a group of about 30 men carrying pistols, shotguns and military-style rifles who occupied the Lorick property Friday, vowing to block the scheduled eviction by force if necessary