Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kelley Farm Recap

We engaged in some physical labor this past Labor Day at the Historic Oliver H. Kelley Farm near Elk River, MN. This historic farm allows visitors to participate and understand how a 1860's farm operated. It was a hands on experience and gave us all a glimpse of the difficult manual work involved in operating and living on a farm. From gardening, canning, cooking and doing laundry to threshing, gathering eggs and watering the livestock... the girls got involved in it all. I have never seen my kids so willingly to do hard labor!

We were able to experience the farm with the Hubert and Ness families, which added to the fun as it gave the 8 kids a shared experience to talk about.
Abby was working on manually threshing barley with the flail. Her efforts were a bit half-hearted...
so Steve had to step in and show how to really get it done. All I can say hot, sweaty-man... yummy! Oh, is that an over-share? So sorry! NOT.
Here is Steve helping to pull more bundles of oats over to the horse-powered threshing machine.

Actually it was a two-horse powered threshing machine. The horses plodded along on a wooden treadmill to power the threshing machine. It was a loud, dusty, itchy, manual process. This little boy reminded me of my nephew as he doesn't like loud noises either.
Kippy helped to catch the oats in a pan and then
dump it into the grain sack.

Together, Abby and Kami helped move the resulting oat straw from the back of the threshing machine into a stack.
The oat straw was not only used for bedding for the livestock, but it was also used to re-stuff one of the mattresses.
The kids got involved with picking golden grape tomatoes destined for ketchup and also made stuffed mango pickles, which were sort of like cucumbers and something I had never seen before. Abby spent time cutting up vegetables and making a meat pie. The smells coming from the wooden stove in the kitchen were wonderful, but I was very distracted by the number of flies coming in from the open windows. A lemon meringue pie doesn't look as appealing with 15 flies crawling all over it!
One of the highlights of the afternoon, was doing laundry. A giant kettle of hot water was carried from the kitchen outside into the wash tub, which had borax flakes and lye added to it.
The kids scrubbed and scrubbed to try to clean up some dish towels and a table cloth. It didn't take long for arms to get tired, but there were a lot of willing helpers.

After washing, then came the manual wringing out of the cloth 2-3 times, rinsing in bluing water and then more wringing.
If it wasn't clean enough it had to go back into the tub for more scrubbing until they had done the job satisfactorily. I was surprised at how hard Kippy worked at washing the laundry because she is generally my little Pigpen. I am thinking I need to have that kid scrubbing on our floors now!

Oliver Kelley was the founder of the first successful national farming organization, the Patrons of Husbandry, better known as the Grange. The Kelley Farm is recognized as "The birthplace of organized agriculture in America."
I am so grateful for modern conveniences like electricity, central air, window screens, washers, & dryers. I can also say it made me appreciate the grocery store the most of all!!

As we were leaving, we got to see an artist who was doing a rendering of a harvest scene.
It was a great day and one we won't soon forget.


Lori said...

Look like fun and learning all in one. I too am thankful for our modern conveniences. I would be a sad camper indeed!!

Heather said...

Thanks for that lovely recap of a fabulous day. LABOR day indeed!

Kathy said...

What a neat learning experience for the kids! Cool place.