April is here, spring is in the air, and many ALHFAMers are busy planting or making preparations to plant this year’s crop. Here’s a few words from FARMers around the country.
Cody Joliff, Nash Farm, reports two ram lambs (Gulf Coast Native) were born recently. Nash Farm is interested to know what GCN breeders are in their region (Mountain-Plains) as they are looking to buy, sell, or trade for a new ram. For those that do not already use this site, The Livestock Conservancy posts heritage breed information including breeders on their website. Nash Farm will also host their annual Spring into Nash event on April 21. For more information, visit https://www.grapevinetexasusa.com/nash-farm/events/spring-into-nash/.
Joel Johnson, Fort Nisqually, reports that the spring garden is well underway with potatoes, peas, and greens all being planted. Coleseed, turnips, and barley are also slated to be planted at Fort Nisqually’s annual Sewing to Sowing event on April 14. For more information, please visit https://www.metroparkstacoma.org/fort-events.
Ed Schultz, Colonial Williamsburg, would like to remind everyone that the ALHFAM Seeds and Plants Committee was absorbed by the FARM PIG during the annual meeting last year. Anyone interested in heritage seeds/plants are encouraged to reach out to the FARM PIG by email or on the Historic Farming Facebook page.
As always, if you have news you want to share or a question to ask the group, please email co-chair, Jim Lauderdale at email@example.com.
Ed Schultz reports that a network of museums with agricultural programs in the Tidewater region of Virginia and Maryland has been developed to communicate about historic farming. The sites include Colonial Williamsburg, National Colonial Farm, Mount Vernon, Claude Moore Farm, the farm at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, George Washington’s Birthplace, and St. Mary’s City.
Jon Kuester reports he has had some interest in doing another dairy workshop at Volkening this year. The breakdown of the class topics along with cost and registration info is listed below. Since there is an MOMCC conference before the workshop Jon will send info to the Ag Resource group for anyone interested.
ALHFAM Dairy Workshop April 9 and 10, 2018
Join the staff of Volkening Heritage Farm for an in depth hands on workshop on dairy cows, dairy products and dairy life. The workshop begins as 10:00am April 9th with milking and progresses until noon on April 10th. Topics discussed and practices include:
If you have a dairy program at your site or you would like to start one, this is the workshop for you. Cost for workshop is $60.00 per person, lunch on Monday provided. Lodging on your own. To register or for information contact:
Ed Schultz reports that new programming is in the works for the Historic Farming at Colonial Williamsburg. The new programs include:
Deb Reid shared the link to the AASLH webinar regarding “interpreting agriculture.” This webinar will feature several ALHFAMers including: Dave Fowler; Jennifer Frazee; Jim Slining; Jim Lauderdale; Pete Watson; and Deb Reid. Tune in on January 30 at 3:00pm Eastern! http://learn.aaslh.org/event/webinar-growing-things-case-studies-in-interpreting-agriculture/
Barb King of Barrington Living History Farm reports that Barrington is butchering a hog and perhaps a turkey next weekend (January 13th and 14th) and hosting a Cooking School later in the month. Follow them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Barrington-Living-History-Farm-Texas-Parks-and-Wildlife-329092793653/.
Cody Joliff reports that Nash Farm will host a hog Butchering and Curing event on January 13th and 14th. They invite guests to experience the skill of 19th century hog butchering, curing, and the use of a smokehouse at this two day workshop. You may follow their Facebook page by going to this link https://www.facebook.com/NashFarmGrapevineTexas/.
Jim Lauderdale shared, at Fort Nisqually, we hosted our first Butchering & Curing Workshop this last weekend (January 6th) to a sold out crowd. The workshop included a demonstration of seam-butchery using only knives and cleavers. Participants also had an opportunity to learn about traditional nitrate-free whole muscle curing and basic cooking methods. The workshop was led by Brandon Sheard from Farmstead Meatsmith. More information about their business can be found at https://farmsteadmeatsmith.com/. The museum will offer other heritage skills workshops this year to include: 19th Century Clothing Construction, February 3; Beekeeping, March 17; and Basketry, November 17. Additionally, the museum and it’s wonderful corps of volunteers have been constructing a smoke-house for the last couple months using all period correct tools and methods. The construction technique being employed is called Post-on-Sill. You can view the progress on the museum’s Facebook page https://business.facebook.com/pg/FortNisqually/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10155175979898791.
From the Western Region Conference Committee:
The Western Region’s 2018 Conference will be hosted by Fort Nisqually Living History Museum in Tacoma, Washington on November 1-4, 2018. The committee has begun working on the finer details and more information will be available soon.
Deb Reid is seeking a company capable of replicating chilled parts for left and right hand Oliver 40 Chilled Plows. Does enough interest exist in the living history farm and small farm/organic farm world to try to cooperate to secure moldboards, shares, points, and metal braces//brackets?
Murrell Home (Park Hill, Oklahoma)
The second Antique Agricultural Festival will be held in the first full weekend of October, and we will have living historians from across several states demonstrate 19th century agricultural practices as they help us prepare the farm for winter. We will build hay ricks and turkey sheds for their winter homes, and set up the sorghum press so that we can harvest our sorghum and press the juice for sorghum molasses. We will make the season's soap, preserve our apple and pears into butter, and start getting the kitchen garden ready for a fallow winter. This year, we will spend the entire winter season amending the soil on the site. The chickens have begun to molt, and we are going to prepare their coops for winter since we use the deep litter method to keep them warm until spring. We will also have the draft animals plow up our fields. We will make shingles to have on hand for those necessary winter repairs, dye yarn for knitting and weaving into items to keep us warm during the colder months, and will have delicious meals prepared over a fire to keep us fed during this weekend of hard work!
We have also started fall cleaning on the property and have noted all the items that will need to be repaired or replaced in our winter down time. Third Saturday in October will focus on fiber arts, so we can get a jump start on making warmer clothes for the winter.
Fort Nisqually Living History Museum (Tacoma, Washington)
As always, if you have something to share or let us know about please email FARM PIG Co-Chair Jim Lauderdale, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jon Failor and Barb King from Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site/Barrington Living History Farm in Washington, Texas, wanted everyone to know that everyone at the site, farm animals included, are all doing well after Hurricane Harvey. They received twenty-five inches of rain and some of the low areas of the site were flooded. Clean-up has begun, and all will recover.
Fort Nisqually Living History Museum in Tacoma, Washington hosted the first Harvest Home event on September 9, 2017. All summer long, the museum’s living historians have nurtured wheat and oats in the meadow outside the museum’s palisade. This year, two varieties were grown: primarily Scotch White Oats and also Red Fife Wheat. Both types were grown in Washington in the 1850s, when the original fort was a center of the Pacific Northwest’s then-fledgling agricultural economy. We have harvested the crops, and visitors participated in the threshing and winnowing that was next in the process. In addition to agricultural demonstrations and hands-on experiences, guests participated in several harvest traditions common in the 19th century. Visitors made corn husk dolls, played popular Victorian games, pressed cider, and enjoyed performances of harvest songs and dances by the Puget Sound Revels. We crowned a harvest king and queen from amongst our teen volunteers, and everyone helped decorate the hock cart that carried the last sheaf of wheat through the fort to the granary. The public was invited to participate in our jam and jelly competition. A panel of judges sampled all entries and awarded a special prize to the tastiest preserve. Event admission was $8-$10, and children 3 and younger were free. For more information visit www.fortnisqually.org or call (253) 591-5339.
Murrell Home Historic Site in Park Hill, Oklahoma, are making preparations to host their second annul Antique Agriculture Festival on October 6-8, 2017. They would like to invite people to come experience nineteenth-century agriculture and heritage farming on a historic 1850s farm. The festival will include demonstrations, entertainment, food, shopping and more. For more information on the event, visit www.antiqueag.org or call (918) 456-2751.
Genesee Country Village & Museum in Mumford, New York, announced that their staff planted tobacco in the field that was turned by the ALHFAM plowing match participants. The crop has been topped and is looking wonderful. The staff also anticipate getting a second hay cutting off of a nearby field that was also part of the match.
Howell Living History Farm in Titusville, New Jersey will host a plowing match on Saturday, September 2. The FARM PIG hopes to get a report on the successes of this match.
As always, if you have news for the eUpdate, please email co-chair Jim Lauderdale at email@example.com. The FARM PIG would also encourage you to post your pictures of historic farming on the ALHFAM Historic Farming Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/1662787883956432/. Until next month, be well!
Minutes from the Annual Conference FARM PIG Meeting
The conference is right around the corner and the FARM PIG is excited about the farming workshops that will be offered. Here is the full list:
Friday (Full Day):
The Heyday Of Haymaking: 19th Century Hay and Tool Making Techniques
Blade Sheep Shearing
Saturday (Full Day):
The Log Building, Building Class
Workhorse Training For Safety and Success
The FARM PIG will also host the annual plowing competition. Conference organizers have scheduled this to occur on Tuesday during the conference. Thanks to the folks at GCV&M for making this possible.
The FARM PIG heard from ALHFAMer Jennifer Frazee at the George M. Murrell Home Historic Site in Park Hill, OK. Here’s what she had to say about their FARM operations. “We built 8 raised beds for our staple garden and have planted several varieties of hot peppers, Trail of Tears pole beans, celeriac, potatoes, more carrots, and squash. We put the squash in the staple garden this year to outsmart the borer worms. We were able to get Hassie the mule out here to plow our fields and we planted corn and sorghum in one. We have more beans, okra, popcorn, and sunflowers in our other plot. We have 7 standard bronze turkeys and our little banty hen is sitting a clutch of eggs that we hope will hatch in the next week or two. In our kitchen garden, we have our herbs planted and have transplanted the peppers, tomatoes, etc that we started in our cold frame. A new item we are trying this year is the dishrag gourd, which is a loofah that can be used to wash dishes, clean kitchens, bathrooms, etc, or work as a wash rag. We started that in the cold box in February and it will hopefully give us some gourds by August.”
We also heard from Barb King at Barrington Living History Farm in Washington, TX. This is what they have going on this time of year. “Bruce, Kim, and our intern Natalie, are buying two new Pineywoods heifers as we speak, expanding both the herd and bloodlines in the future. Our month-old Indian Runner and Rouen ducklings, and Road Island Red Rooster chicks got moved outside, and are enjoying their new pond. The Black Spanish turkey poults, and extra rooster chicks went to the barn. Cotton is almost knee-high and our Gourd Seed corn is looking really well. We’ve started to pull some fodder and a few ears have been saved for seed already. We’re thinking of roasting a few this weekend.”
Last but far from least, we heard from ALHFAMer Deb Reid and here is her report. “Great news. We have two webinars scheduled on Interpreting Agriculture with AASLH. The first features the book - Interpreting Agriculture at Museums and Historic Sites - that's 3:00-4:30eastern time, Tuesday, Sept. 26. The second will repeat some of the AASLH 2016 session that Deb Arenz, Debbie Grinnell at Naper Settlement, and I did on the same topic. We are adding Jim Slining of Tillers International and Pete Watson to the tag team. That will be January 30, 2018, on a Tuesday. That AASLH 2016 session went really well. Jon Kuester was involved, and Jim McCabe, but we needed to diversify the perspectives at the table, both geographically and in terms of institutions, so we mixed up the pot a bit. If these go well I think it would be great to offer webinars on living history farms in park & rec districts (which Jon and Pete and Jim L. could address; and a webinar on interpreting agriculture and American Indian history. Perhaps we can find time to talk about this during ALHFAM. I'll have copies of the book with me. Here's the website, FYI: https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781442230101/Interpreting-Agriculture-at-Museums-and-Historic-Sites.“
As always, thanks to everyone for their submission to the FARM news. If you have something you would like to contribute, please email FARM co-chair Jim Lauderdale at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We were excited to hear from long time ALHFAMer, Ed Schultz regarding the FARM activities of Colonial Williamsburg. Their agricultural program has moved to a site in town behind the Prentis Store. Here they are growing tobacco, cotton, and corn so that guests can see and understand the agricultural underpinnings of 18th century Virginia. The corn is an 18th century variety called Gourdseed corn. The cotton is a smooth black-seeded variety with white lint developed by former agricultural specialist Wayne Randolph, who crossed 18th and 19th century varieties for six years. The tobacco is called Venezuelan which by appearance mimics the 18th century Orinoco. For those of us that visited during the 2015 annual meeting, you may be interested to know that Great Hopes Plantation is now a self-guided site interpreted through signage.
In other news, several ALHFAM members will be part of the new "Women’s Land Army” (WWI) at the new Agricultural History Farm Park in Derwood, Maryland. Many volunteers are also part of other local living history farms which normally interpret earlier eras (such as the 18th century Claude Moore Colonial Farm), but this is the first 20th century living history farm deep interpretation in the region. This new interpretation has energized the area living historians! Other interpretation includes Victory Gardening, women’s suffrage, farm skills, domestic interpretation, as well as race-relations just after Reconstruction. The opening weekend was April 29-30. Lisa Berray will be presenting on the development of the living history park, including both the highs and lows of its new beginnings, at the 2017 ALHFAM conference.
As always, if you have news that you want to share with the FARM PIG please email co-chair Jim Lauderdale at email@example.com.
Spring is in the air and many of our living history farms and agricultural museums are busy with the tasks at hand. The FARM PIG loves to hear about what members are up to and the following is what we learned for this month’s eUpdate.
The George Murrell Home Historic Site in Park Hill, Oklahoma has added Banty chickens to their existing flock of Dominique chickens. Their staff and volunteers have enhanced the size of their corn and sorghum fields and recently acquired a sorghum press. In the kitchen garden, they are rotating out a few vegetables to stymie the squash bugs and borer worms and are putting in a long bed of herbs. May Day is also coming up, scheduled for Saturday May 6 from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. If anyone is in the area, they should stop by and check it out. The event will host plowing, planting, games, and a dance around the May pole to cap it off.
Fort Nisqually Living History Museum in Tacoma, Washington has recently completed their new Poultry House exhibit and will be adding Speckled Sussex heritage chickens to their flock of mixed birds. Many spring vegetables have been planted and continue to need cultivation in the kitchen garden. Due to the vast amounts of rain fall this year, the spring grain crop has yet to be planted, but a break in the weather may be coming, and heritage grains will be sown during the Sewing to Sowing event on April 15. The museum invites you to join them in welcoming spring, 19th century style! Crowd favorite Blackberry Patch Farm will be on hand again this year with baby lambs. Folks can check out our new poultry house and visit with chicks. Families can get their hands dirty in the Fort’s heritage gardens, which include the kitchen garden, a small orchard, and a newly expanded field crop area. Visitors can help operate the Fort’s 1800’s winnowing machine and learn more about the agricultural enterprises of the Hudson’s Bay Company. A fine assortment of needlework by the Fort’s sewing guild will be on display, and some special handmade items will be available for sale. The ladies will demonstrate various hand-sewing techniques as well as operating one of the world’s earliest sewing machines, the Wheeler and Wilson. There will be several dozen historic interpreters to visit with as they cheerfully cook in the kitchen, spin yarn in the Laborers’ Dwelling, and hammer in the blacksmith’s shop.
Nash Farm in Grapevine, Texas has been busy with new Gulf Coast Native lambs that were born this spring. Additionally, turkeys were added to the farm last fall and they continue to entertain guests of the farm. Their next event is the 16th Annual Spring Into Nash event where activities will include heritage toys, kitchen gardening, cotton planting, farm animals, tractor-drawn wagon rides, field cultivation, wood carving demonstrations, jump rope making, wood-burning stove cooking demonstrations, and blacksmith demonstrations. Children and adults alike will enjoy learning what life was like when the city's earliest settlers made their home in Grapevine. Another event on April 28 is the Farm to Fork Experience. Staff invite you to join them at Nash Farm to experience the flavors of farm-fresh 19th century inspired cuisine. The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a reception around the farmhouse. The reception will include stations with culinary creations from the kitchen garden, smokehouse, hen house and more, along with a selection of Grapevine wines. The family-style meal will be served in the meadow and will include a variety of farm fresh items. The evening will include brief introductions of dishes by both the chef and farm historians. The Long Star String Band will accompany the evening with 19th century music. Don’t miss this opportunity for a relaxing and enjoyable evening on the farm.
If you have something that you would like to share with the FARM PIG for the next eUpdate, please email FARM PIG co-chair, Jim Lauderdale at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FARM PIG is proud to announce that Farming Workshops will be offered at the upcoming annual conference this June. The following is a list of these workshop offerings:
Friday (Full Day):
The Heyday Of Haymaking: 19th Century Hay and Tool Making Techniques
Blade Sheep Shearing
Saturday (Full Day):
The Log Building, Building Class
Workhorse Training For Safety and Success
Conference attendees will need to register for these workshops when completing their conference registration. There will be a limited number of spaces available, so all interested parties are encouraged to sign up as soon as registration opens.
The FARM PIG will also host the annual plowing competition. Conference organizers have scheduled this to occur on Tuesday during the conference. Judges for the match are needed. If you would be interested in participating as a judge, please contact Matt Schofield at email@example.com.
The FARM PIG is happy to announce that the “Position Statement on the Use of Livestock in Museum Settings 2016” has been approved by ALHFAM’s board and will be added to the FARM page. Additionally, there are two other documents that ALHFAM members may find useful. The first of these is the “Handling Public Concerns on the Use of Livestock in Museum Settings 2016” and “Livestock Care in Museums 2016.” Please view these pages for more helpful information.
The FARM PIG co-chairs are in the planning stages for offering a hands-on workshop during the annual conference. Over the last two years, the FARM PIG worked to provide School of the Mule in Baton Rouge and Farmer’s Boot Camp in Colonial Williamsburg. The hands-on workshops were very well received and attended. Many ALHFAMers have asked that these continue. We are requesting that members submit ideas for this workshop as soon as possible. Some of the activities, concepts, and best practices that have been requested so far include hay stacking, horsemanship, animal behaviors, how to use hand tools, heritage gardening techniques, sharpening hand tools, mowing with scythe, and handling livestock. If you have more ideas that you would like to submit, please email the Jim Lauderdale at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, we are also planning to host the plowing competition as done in the past. More information on that will be forthcoming.
The ALHFAM Ag Map is Growing!
Have you checked out the ALHFAM Historic Agriculture Resources Map? If not, you should. Available for about a year, the map continues to expand and include more resources. It’s organized by resource type and is easy to search by keyword or by region.
The map features information about ALHFAM members that have and/or use historic agricultural collections and techniques. It was created to help us share our historic agricultural assets with each other and the general public. The map is keyword searchable so if you’d like to know which other sites grow pumpkins or use oxen (or whatever interests you), the information is at your fingertips.
Inclusion in the map is available to ALHFAM members only, but feel free to share the link freely with anyone who may be interested. If you would like to have your institution featured in the map, please email AHARM@alhfam.org.
Several FARM folks have been at work on livestock care policies. This project is being spearheaded by Deb Arenz and should be completed soon. The three documents that are currently in the works are: “Position Statement on the Use of Livestock in Museum Settings;” “Livestock Care in Museums;” and “Handling Public Concerns on the Use of Livestock in Museum Settings.”
Murrell Home’s inaugural Antique Agricultural Festival was a real one-stop spot for people of all ages to learn about 19th century agricultural practices in Cherokee Nation. This event took place on October 7-9. Living historians from all over Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas came out to demonstrate skills important to maintain life in mid-1800s Indian Territory. Several of the demonstrations included dyeing wool, making soap, making apple butter, and hand threshing grain. Hassie the mule was on hoof Saturday to work her magic in the fields with a plowing demonstration while other demonstrators cultivated gardens with hand tools. Other activities included corn grinding, wool processing, and woodworking as well as blacksmithing to demonstrate some important trades of the 19th century. 19th century games also delighted visitors of all ages. Finally, vendors sold their wares while guests listened to live music and gained agricultural information from educator booths. For more information, please visit http://www.antiqueag.org/.
Minutes from FARM meeting in Baton Rouge (thanks to Deb Reid for taking notes):
1. The first item for discussion, FARM needs a new chair:
2. FARM PIG needs SOP
3. What sessions should the FARM PIG consider for the 2017 conference?
4. The Farm PIG has two info sheets on ALHFAM.org
The leadership team of the FARM PIG and their focuses:
· Jon Kuester and Jim Lauderdale- Co-chairs
· Pete Watson, Ed Schultz, and Jim Slining- Workshops
· Bob Powell- Plowing master and Horseman of the British Isles
· Barb Corson- FARM webpage and Horseman trainer
· Sean O’Herron- Livestock policies/ communications guru
· Deb Arenz- Map of sites on webpage, advocate, and ramrod to get things done.
· Lauren Muney- Mistress of the Historic Farming Facebook page
· Chet Tomlinson- Scythe Master and Master of historic seeds.
Update on FARM related workshops:
· The plowing workshop at Howell LHF is cancelled.
· The scythe mowing got cancelled in early summer as well.
· The Dairy workshop has been postponed but not canceled so there is still hope.
o Note: Anyone that has FARM related skills workshops that they would like to include in future e-Updates should submit the details to the co-chairs.
ALHFAM Historic Agriculture Resources Map
The ALHFAM Historic Agriculture Resources Map, a project of the Farm Professional Interest Group, features information about ALHFAM members that have and/or use historic agricultural collections and techniques. This tool was created to help us share our historic agricultural assets with each other and the general public. While inclusion in the map is available to ALHFAM members only, please feel free to share the link freely with anyone who may be interested.
Spike Tooth Cultivator at GCVM
In January we were able to concentrate on building some tools for our field work. The spike tooth cultivator was a project that had great importance, being able to do more than just cultivate, it was a common tool turned to when soil needed to be stirred, weeded, loosened, aerated or otherwise torn up.
The cultivator is the crotch of a larger tree with even branches. The tree section is then hewn to have even faces top and bottom, this will aid in the drilling and mortising of the holes for the harrow teeth. One long bolt should be placed through the cultivator to secure the bottom of the V from eventual wear and possible splitting. The Bottom of the V should also have a bracket from which it is pulled.
Harrow teeth made from 3/4 inch square stock should be tapered to a point and have a blunt head. Depending on the aggressive nature of the device the number of teeth can very. We choose 11 teeth. To lay out the teeth it is best to hang the device on a block and tackle. Next use string weighted with common 1/2 inch nuts. Take each string and stick a thumb tack to it where the tooth should be located. See the picture attached for the overall look. This is a step of the design that will benefit from more careful placement. Examine any early cut of a harrow and you will find the cut shows the tooth pattern with lines traced to the rear of the harrow; as if it were creating those marks as it moved forward. Once the tooth pattern is identified drill and mortise each tooth in. The last step is to make the handles. They should be mounted with extra space to walk between the device. As many harrows do, this device might require cleaning from clogged material. Be mindful of this when placing the handles.
As noted in “Sowing Modernity” the design of the cultivator of this style will face the same issue as the V or A framed harrows. The tooth or teeth which cut the center mark should not be located in the front, instead shift it to the rear of the device. This will ensure the device’s over all shape it allowing the ground to be torn into instead of creating a furrow as wide as the device is.
Matthew Sanbury, Coordinator of Historic Trades & Agriculture, Genesee Country Village & Museum
December at Barrington Living History Farm, Washington Texas
December brings the cool Blue Northers; those cold fronts that blow in from the North that, behind the howling winds, rests a clear blue sky, crisp cold mornings and dry weather. The farmers at Barrington relish those weather fronts. At last we can say goodbye to the triple digit days of scorching heat and relentless humidity if only for a few short months.
The corn as already been harvested, hauled to the mill and brought back to the farm in the form of meal. Cotton has been harvested, the bare stalks burned off the fields and the ashes plowed under. With major field work behind us, the farmer at Barrington have spent December focusing on rail splitting, fence repair and building. We have created a new livestock paddock that gives us additional space to hold oxen, cows and calves or visiting livestock.
The new paddock was made with farm-split cedar rails stacked five high in the traditional “snake”, “worm” or “Virginia fence” pattern. Instead of stabilizing the corners with the commonly used “stake and rider” we chose to try what was detailed in Mr. S. Edward Todd’s The Young Farmers’ Manual (1859), as the “stake and cap”. Stakes, which are basically sharpened saplings are driven into the ground opposite each other at each joint in the rail fence. They are then bound together with the cap; a piece of wood containing two holes that slide down the stakes and rest under the top rail. Mr. Todd recognized that labor required in riving and boring caps for every pair of stakes and suggested the following:
In lieu of caps many farmers use wire for holding the stakes together, which, by many, is considered preferable to caps.
We took his advice and used wire. This was our first endeavor making a “stake and cap” style rail fence and the end result we are quite pleased with. While it may lack the height provided by a “stake and rider”, it rivals and may even surpass it in stability and strength. It was also economical as it reduced the total number of rails required for the project by nearly 300. The winter months provide a brief reprieve from field work and allow us to take time to mend and make new. March will be here soon, which means corn planting time!
Jonathan Failor, Barrington Living History Farm
October Means Planting at Volkening Heritage Farm
October, more than any month in the calendar, evokes images of harvest time. Corn shocks and pumpkins have been interwoven into our common psyche as signs of fall and harvest. For most corn loving American farmers this is true, but for the grain loving Germans of Schaumburg Illinois October means planting time.
Schaumburg Township, located just west of Chicago, was a haven for German Lutherans in the last half of the 19th century. Starting around 1850, German immigrants developed a conservative closed society based around their Missouri Synod Church. These new settlers from the old world new little to nothing about corn and chose instead to focus their attention on small grain production. In 1880 Schaumburg farmers produced more than nine times as many bushels of oats than the national average for farms across the country. They also produced more than three times as many bushels of wheat and twice as many bushels of flax, rye and buckwheat. With all of these crops coming ready for harvest between July and August, the fall was left open for that peculiar practice of planting winter wheat.
Today at Volkening Heritage Farm we follow the patterns and seasons of Schaumburg’s German Forefathers. As such, every October we plow down the oat stubble and plant hard red winter wheat. As Schaumburg farmers were not to apt to adopt new technology either, we forgo the drill and plant broadcast style with the help of several hundred school kids. Children are wonderful little soil tampers and with a quick harrowing, to even out the large piles of spilled grain, we have a finished wheat field ready for the snow.
Jonathan Kuester, Volkening Heritage Farm
Making a Large Harrow at Colonial WilliamsburgCW Replica Harrow Working
Our larger replica harrow of 1963 finally wore out, necessitating research to determine an appropriate replacement. Traditional European precedents suggested square frame over triangular. George Washington drew a picture of one, copied from Kames’ The Gentleman Farmer, Edinburgh, 1776. Kames identified it as “common”, and provided detailed specs. It conformed nicely to other square spike toothed coarse harrows. So we built one this spring.
The available white oak timber for the “bulls” (main timbers through which the spikes are set) was one inch thinner than Kames’ prescribed 3 ½” thickness, but otherwise all dimensions were the same. Since the wood had been salvaged from hurricane Irene (2011), it had twisted so that modern mechanical planning was necessary to keep the four 5 foot long bulls in plane to receive the smaller cross pieces making the frame. Those mortises were also mechanically cut because they needed to be perfect, and I didn’t possess the time, patience, or skill to cut sixteen perfectly by hand! Our blacksmiths made the hardware which consisted primarily of twenty rather long iron spikes. All components were joined in time for late spring plowing.
Shortly after delivery we experienced severe checking of the bulls, indicating that the wood, though sealed, had not cured sufficiently. Teeth loosened. The remedy will require an undocumented (though period appropriate) reinforcement consisting of additional iron end brackets. So far the new harrow draws well from a hemp rope connector, and breaks down newly plowed ground well. Its coarse tooth pattern and high riding frame keep clogging to a minimum. Additional weight keeps its tail down so all twenty teeth can work.
Wayne Randolph, Historic Farmer at Colonial Williamsburg
Some Notes on Making Hams & Bacon at Genesee Country Museum
The Genesee Country Village and Museum is currently smoking our yield from hog butchering. Last year we did this process with mixed results, but new changes to our brine recipe, and smoking method should produce better results this year.
This years yield was butchered on Saturday 11-24-12. After which we dry cured with salt and saltpeter. Once the pork was sweated enough we mixed up our brine, which came on recommendation by Chris and Susan Gordy. The meat was submerged in the brine for several weeks, while being turned once a week.
Upon completion of the brining process the meat was hung in the smokehouse. We plan on smoking the meat continuously for five to six weeks. Currently we are burning cherry and apple wood to produce the smoke needed. The trees that were harvested for the smoking were cut down live about 4 months ago. Some was split, but most was kept in a larger size to smolder rather than burn.
Unlike most accounts of the fires position in the smokehouse, we have settled on our previous method of burning the wood inside an old cast iron kettle. The constriction of air movement plays itself to our cause of creating a bed of embers with little flame. Though we have a stone smoke house and could use the dirt floor we have settled on this method with good results.
We are still in the stage of experimenting with this process and are excited to see the results of this years hard work. We hope to experiment with burning corn cobs instead of fruit wood, as well as possibly advancing our brine.
Coordinator of Historic Trades and Agriculture at Genesee Country Village & Museum