Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Living History

Of late, my blog has seemed to be a travelogue of sights to see in central Ohio and today is no different. On Saturday, David and I took Aimee's kids to Slate Run Living Historical Farm in Pickaway County, near the small quaint village of Canal Winchester. It was a gloriously beautiful day for three kids to run around a working farm and enjoy the sunshine. And it was quite pleasurable for us adults as well.

The farm house is a Gothic Revival built in 1856 and restored by the Columbus Metro Parks system for authenticity. All of the volunteers dress in period costume and do all the work on the farm. They raise the cattle, hogs, sheep, chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese for their meat, milk, eggs and wool. The vegetables and fruit that are grown there are preserved in the old-fashioned ways. They use no modern equipment. All the cooking is done on a wood-fired stove and all the farming is done with horse-drawn equipment.

Several times when David and I have visited on a Sunday, we've arrived when the volunteers are eating their Sunday dinner around the long wooden dining table. All the recipes they use are from the past. All of the vegetables and fruit grown are heirloom varieties and chicken breeds are all heritage breeds. It's a hard life, but a good one, and all the volunteers seem to really enjoy the time they spend working and communing with like-minded individuals. And, believe me, they answer lots  of dumb questions from folks who didn't have the opportunity to grow up on a farm.

And now, take a tour with me and the grandkids of a real historic working farm.

 The vegetable garden is, of course, close to the house to make it convenient for the farm wife to run out and pick a head of cabbage. Wow, look at the size of that one!

Pumping water at the well is fun for kids of all ages, though they encourage you not to waste the water, but to get a drink, wash your hands, or water some of the flowers and herbs growing near the back porch and summer kitchen.

These ladies were offering samples of herb butters, cookies, crackers and rosemary cake. They also had herbal teas to wash down the dryish delicious cookies and cake.
The summer kitchen was a lifesaver for women in the 19th century. It kept the main kitchen from heating up with all the baking and canning that had to be done on a daily basis. The herb garden was right outside the door.
Inside the summer kitchen, where Nate and Kait enjoyed learning to use the washboard.
This is the kitchen inside the main house.
Notice that there is no cookstove in the main kitchen. It has been moved to the summer kitchen, which had to be a mighty feat, since it probably weighs a couple thousand pounds.
The parlor, where there is some major competition going on with the patterns. This is a very hands-on room where the visitors can look through a stereoscope, play checkers, play the pianoforte, or read a book or two.
In every Victorian parlor, you will find a hair picture, the strange practice of making feathery figures out of a dearly departed loved one's hair. It's a little creepy, I must say.
I thought this was an ingenious use of an old, worn-out wagon wheel. It was outside the kitchen door. The perfect place for drying your dish towels and wash basins.

Some of summer's bounty lining the shelves of the cellar. On the opposite wall are wooden bins for storing potatoes and other root vegetables.
The smell of the smoked hams and bacon in the smokehouse was just amazing! I wanted to take a knife and hack off a hunk of that ham and eat it right there!  Notice the blackened walls.

What's a farmhouse without a board swing hanging from a shade tree?
These ladies were doing watercolor paintings of the farmhouse while sitting in the shade of the grape arbor. The sweet lady in the middle kept asking me if she broke my camera.
Look at the size of the grapevine trunk! Those vines have been there a long time.

Inside the main barn were lots of tools hanging from the rafters.

And every barn must have a lucky horseshoe.
And no matter how cute a three-week-old calf may be, you have to remember.....
...they are raised to provide food for hungry farmers and their families and to sell for food.

The sheep were let in to eat some fresh hay for their supper.

The windmill pumps water for the animals. It's standing in front of the main barn.

This blacksmith shop is a lot fancier than the one my dad had at our farm. Daddy used to let me pump the bellows to make the fire hotter in the forge.
This may be one of the first examples of a stationary bicycle! I'm not sure what it is used for, but may be some kind of lathe or something else used in woodworking.

The doors to the equipment shed.

And inside is what we think is a thresher. It was made in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

Gaige grinding corn in a hand mill.

It seems like there is something missing from this sign....the animals, maybe?

Where old wagon wheels go to die.

This sign made me hungry for some pumpkin pie.
Shooing the reluctant chickens into the coop at the end of the ladies' day. I'm sure they weren't quite ready to be cooped up.

And three happy grandkids.


Ruth said...


What a great post.

You really covered it, and I wanted every word and photo. The place is quite a phenomenon, isn't it? I didn't know such a place existed where everything is maintained like every day life. But I suppose no one sleeps there, right?

Where I laughed out loud:

- dryish delicious cookies
- the major competition in the parlor patterns
- the lady who wondered if she broke your camera (my auntie Sue used to say that)

The wagon wheel makes a gorgeous drying rack (maybe that's where they dried the cookies too).

This is so inspiring that I'm convinced once again that I was born in the wrong century.

(Shh, but I don't think I'd want to do that much work. I'd have to be born rich.)

Tattered and Lost said...

What a lovely place. You're making me really miss Pennsylvania where my ancestors are from. I miss those farms with the red barns. Out here barns are painted white or not at all. Plus out here they're generally called ranches. Yup, I'm missing driving through the farmland of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Cindy said...

How wonderfully primitive! Not sure I could stand to wear all that clothing through the hot weather and all. I wish my pantry shelves looked like theirs, all lined up and ready for winter.

Can't say I've ever seen a hair picture. That is very creepy! I have been known to save fur from our cats (now deceased) thinking I'd knit something out of it. It's tucked away in plastic bags waiting for that day when I have nothing better to do.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I feel like I've been there! Your grandkids are precious as ever, and looks like they really enjoyed themselves.

When you visit these places, don't you sometimes just wish you could go back in time? When things were simpler? Maybe it's my farm roots, but I always end up daydreaming. Of course, everything seems wonderful until you have to get up and go poo outside in the below freezing temperature. And you have to trudge through snow to chat to your friends...

Char said...

what a wonderful time - loved the descriptions and the fun. :)

I would love to visit

CottageGirl said...

What fun grandparents you are!!!!!! That is a trip those adorable children will remember for a long time! How educational ... How interesting! Great pictures! Can I come next time!

ds said...

Wow. I love this! From the screen door to the wildly patterned parlor (and people think the 1960's were psychedelic!) to the pump...I felt as though I was right there, looking over your shoulder. Wonderful post! Thank you.

Oliag said...

This was really fun, going on this farm tour with you and the grandchildren! The photos drew me right in...I would love to volunteer in a place like that. Lucky grandchildren to have grandparents who take them to fun places like this:)

Susan said...

Ruthie, I'm so glad you enjoyed the tour! You're right, no one sleeps there full time, although there might be a caretaker who stays. I'll have to ask next time we go. There are volunteers there every day, of course, because of the animals and because the farm is open every day but Monday and major holidays.

Susan said...

Tattered, I love those red barns, too! Pennsylvania is a great place to find a lot of them. We lived in SW Pa. for five years and loved it there, probably because it reminded me so much of home. It's a beautiful state!

Susan said...

Cindy, I've seen lots of hair pictures in antique shops and house-type museums. They are strangely fascinating! I don't think I will ever start collecting them, though!

The ladies looked pretty warm in their long skirts! That's one thing I can't stand in the summer is having my whole legs covered when I'm doing anything besides sitting still.

Susan said...

Sandy, you're so right! I'm oh so glad that I don't have to walk a hundred yards outside to go to the bathroom! Not fun anytime, but especially in the winter! It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there!

I do understand your craving for a more simple way of life sometimes. Once in a while I feel overwhelmed by all things modern, especially technology. But it doesn't last very long and then I'm back here chatting with my friends over our little backyard fence known as blogworld! And I don't have to trudge through snow to get here!

Susan said...

Char, I would love to have you visit! I could show you all the places that I've been blogging about lately! You might like it in Ohio well enough to stay, although the job market isn't much better here than it is in Montgomery. :(

Susan said...

Well, CG you didn't hear us saying a hundred times, "Stop scuffing your feet, the dust is choking me!" We might not be as fun as you think!

You absolutely can come with us next time, m'dear! Wouldn't that be fun? The whole place is an education, but not in a dull way. It's all very hands on, and they have a different program every weekend. In the fall, they make apple butter and sorghum molasses. The kids love it when they have Kids Chore Day. They get to help with the chores...feeding the animals, shelling corn, washing clothes on the washboard, etc. David and I have been there many times just by ourselves. We usually combine it with a hike on the trails though.

Susan said...

ds, I'm so happy that you enjoyed the tour! Actually, I could feel you there looking over my shoulder!

I know, isn't that screen door beautiful? I would love to have a farmhouse that looks just like it!

Susan said...

Oliag, I would love to volunteer there, too, if it wasn't so far from where we live. It takes longer than an hour to get there, so not really feasible.

I think your grandchildren are pretty lucky to have you and Mr. O as grandparents, too!

Alaine said...

Susan, what a fantastic place to have nearby to take the grandchildren to. They'll never forget that day with their grandparents.

Susan said...

Alaine, it really is nice that we have many places nearby where the children can learn about Ohio's past as a farming state. And there is still a lot of farming going on here. It's a good way to get in touch with our roots.

Elle Bee said...

Your three munchkins are adorable! Your granddaughter was so cute next to that huge cabbage. I loved all your photos--fascinating stuff from a fascinating time. The hair pictures was the strangest--i'd never heard of that.
Great post.

Susan said...

Thanks, Elle! Glad you enjoyed the tour! Yeah, those hair pictures creep me out! Can you imagine sitting at a craft table and making those things with your dead relative's hair?!! ((shudder))

California Girl said...

The place looks fantastic and your photo essay is engaging. Your grandchildren look like they had a wonderful time.

I love to visit unexpected places like this. We lived in KY years ago and a working Shaker village was across the river from our home and we'd take everyone who came to visit us to see that place. The food was incredible and their way of life slowly dying and from another time. I remember it with gratitude.

Susan said...

Thank you, Cali Girl!

We've been to the Shaker village in KY! And also to the one in Vermont(?). Their furniture is so beautiful and the way of life so peaceful. It's too bad it is dying out.

Cora said...

Wow....what an exciting place. I love all that old timey stuff! Wish I could visit in however made that visit possible here!

California Girl said...

Do you mean to say you went to the one in Harrodsburg? We lived across the Ky River from there in High Bridge. There is a famous high trestle train bridge for which our tiny area is/was named. We still own the land. Lost everything we had in a flood in '79. I sound like an old timer don't I?

Susan said...

Cora, you're welcome any time you would like to come for a visit! I'll take you to all my places!

Susan said...

Why back in the old days, Cali Girl, my mom's family lost almost everything courtesy of my Grandpa's gambling. He bet nearly 1,000 acres on one hand of poker....and lost (this was in the 30's). Not much different than getting run over by a flood.

Yes, we've been to Harrodsburg. We love the central west of Kentucky. We lived (and grew up) only about 150 miles from there in southern Ohio.

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Another beautiful adventure.
I love how self sufficient those times were -but am also reminded of how lazy I am. I guess if we were brought up that way, without modern distractions, we would thrive.
Such a great experience for the grandkids. Not an Xbox in sight!

Susan said...

Natashya, I know just what you mean! I would never survive, having been spoiled by modern life. Back then you either did it or you starved. We would probably all be better off if we had to work that hard for our food.