Thursday, October 28, 2010

I May Have Discovered a Long Lost Relative

In my search to determine what a farm wife would have worn around the turn of the century I ran across this c. 1900 photo.


I couldn’t help but compare it to this c. 2010  photo and wonder if we are related?



Friday, October 22, 2010

The Stokes Family Farm

I really enjoyed working at Billie Creek Village during the Covered Bridge Festival and I am looking forward to going back when it opens again next Spring. Like most non-profit organizations during this day and age, the Village and farmstead have suffered over the past few years. Attendance is down, and unlike some other living history museums in Indiana, Billie Creek doesn’t have an endowment to pull from during lean times. Sadly, this shows up in noticeable needed maintenance of the buildings and deterioration of the farm.  My hope is to be able to help put the pieces of the farmstead back together and be able to continue the tradition of teaching future generations the history of farm life and make connections about where their food comes from.

The farmhouse was moved to the Village in 1976 from 12 miles away. It was donated by the Stokes family. It sits, quietly nestled in the back part of the property away from the “town” buildings.


The horse drawn wagons bring visitors past the front door on their way to a covered bridge.


Then circles back to the most cozy and comfortable back porch you’ll ever see. There is a checkers set waiting for players and a wash tub and wringer set for the Monday wash.


The kitchen has a few modern amenities, that are not period correct.


That is because up until a few years ago, they used to serve chicken and noodles and baked goods right out the farmhouse. Sadly, the State of Indiana has issued so many regulations regarding serving food to the public, the old farmhouse is no longer in compliance.


The dining room and half of the kitchen are the original part of the house. They were built during the Civil War and the family went on to raise 10 children in the two small rooms. Mrs. Stokes cooked her meals in the fireplace back then and the kitchen area would have been their sleeping quarters.


I like the warming cupboard above the fireplace. I’m sure they were able to keep their blankets and things nice and toasty up there.


In 1886 the family built on to the original house. They added a cozy sitting room.


It included a stairway to the second story, which we’ll come back to in a minute.


They also added a beautiful parlor for entertaining guests. Mr. Stokes was an official in the Methodist church and it is said he entertained many ministers here.


I’m sure this is where Mrs. Stokes set up her quilt frame a time or two so I did the same last week and demonstrated hand quilting.


The master bedroom is quite lovely.


It is rather large for the period and even includes a sizable closet.


Upstairs there is one large room for the children.


It is set up half for boys and half for girls. The door below would not have been there originally.


It is only there to allow easy viewing of the hired-hand’s room. During the period, the hired-hand would have entered the room through a separate entrance directly from the back porch.


In fact, there many have been several people sharing the room as the family owned 100 acres which was part of the original land grant.


All in all, I love this old house. I hope that we will be able to keep the Village open to continue to share it with the public for many years to come.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Attempted Murder

It was Blanche in the barn with a candlestick.


Seems she’s never gotten over that whole Spring Shearing incident so this morning when I tried to trim her hooves, she tried to kill me. It has now swollen to encompass my entire forehead and has turned a lovely shade of purple.

I’m now officially brain damaged. (As opposed to the rumored suspicions of anyone who has ever read this blog.)


I Finally Understand Why They Did It

I always thought the women of the Victorian era were nuts. I mean really. Why would any sane woman cinch her waist with a wire corset like that? There is no way it could possibly be comfortable.

Well, last week I figured out why they did it. They did it because if you wear all those Victorian layers without a corset, you end up looking like a bloated toad. And no sane woman wants to look like a bloated toad.


My costume wasn’t period perfect, but considering I only had twenty four hours to throw it together, I don’t think I did too bad. The skirt and bonnet were my grandmother’s. I just happened to have some lace up boots because I’m weird and I actually wear those all the time anyway. The petticoat under the skirt I fashioned out of a shower curtain. Now that the festival is over, I’ll have all winter to plan a proper costume before the Village opens again in May.  I assure you, next year I’ll be wearing a corset. I just don’t think the bloated toad look works for me.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Meanwhile Back at the Barn

Remember back in March when I told you we would be getting a new barn roof soon? I was optimistic we would run right out and find someone willing and able to do the work.


Eight months and countless phone calls and quotes later we finally found an Amish construction crew that not only understood why we wanted an old-style roof and knew how to do it, but didn’t want to charge a million dollars for the work.  Everyone else thought we should tear it down and build a new metal pole barn. Because, of course, everybody’s doing it.

Anyhoo, the crew was able to fix up the dents and dings the tree created in the rafters and proceeded to put the new roof on as if they’d done this all a million times before. I suspect they had. It was almost picturesque watching them work in their Amish garb. Then I spotted the crew leader talking to his boss on a cell phone and the warm fuzzy feeling went away. I had no idea they could do that. I wonder if they use them while they’re driving their buggies?


But I have to say they did a bang up job and managed to get a new roof on in less than two days.


It even has skylights for the golden girls since they’re afraid of the dark. (insert rolling eyes)


“Hey, there are bats in there. You’d be afraid too” said Rose.



Thursday, October 7, 2010

Living History

I love, love, love living history museums. Always have. I have fond memories of visiting many as a child and even fonder memories as an adult. We visited Conner Prairie over the weekend and it reminded me how much I love them.  I am in awe of the historic buildings.


I am inspired by the interiors.


And, of course, I love the animals.


But my favorite part has always been the people. The living historians that go about their day in period dress, portraying life during the their particular time period.



I’ve always secretly wanted to be one.


Starting tomorrow, I will fulfill that dream. I will become the farmwife at the 1900 era homestead at Billie Creek Village. If you’re local, and you’re attending the Covered Bridge Festival this year, stop by and see me. I’ll be tending to the garden, keeping the house, knitting, spinning, sewing and feeding the chickens, sheep and goats. You know, all the stuff I do every day.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fishers Renaissance Faire

I’d never been before. It’s not really my time period. I’m more of a Civil War gal myself, but the kid has wanted to go for a long time so we spent Sunday afternoon at the Renaissance Faire. While I enjoyed the spinning and wool dying demonstrations, the guys were entertained with some good, old-fashioned mortal combat.


Nothing like the bashing of metal to get the blood going. The kid was even recruited into their militia and trained to fight off jousters.


Which was good information to know because we just so happened to run into a few of those guys later in the day. 


The faire was interesting. Again, not really my time period, and I would rather attend a more authentic reenactment. Ye Old Pretzels served heated in Ye Old Microwave didn’t really give me the feeling that I had stepped back in time. And I still don’t understand why there were pirates and fairies there, but still a pleasant afternoon was had by all.


In the end, as we were preparing to leave, it occurred to me that the faire is really just the medieval version of Gencon or Comicon. No harm in that I suppose.christinesig

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Cheating Heart

I thought I would never love another. I thought Sophia was the only one for me. I was wrong. We visited Conner Prairie on Sunday. The Dorsets in Prairie Town just ignored me.


But the Tunis? The Tunis adored me.


I have to admit the feeling was mutual.


I’m now desperately in need of some red headed sheep with floppy ears.


Friday, October 1, 2010

A Bit of a Dry Spell

According to my notes, it hasn’t rained here on the farm since sometime back in July. The creek has long since dried up.


And the spring-fed pond has been reduced to just a puddle. The large family of turtles who live there are still alive for now, but if we don’t get some rain soon they will suffer losses. I would have to believe you can only sustain so many turtles in a puddle.


Of course the pastures are not growing. We started feeding hay weeks ago, much earlier than expected. The fat bottom girls are once again trying to claim the hay feeders as their private birthing room.


Unfortunately, my sense of humor has dried up along with everything else around here. However, I’m trying to pull and claw my way back out of the rut life keeps pushing me into lately.


But honestly, some days it’s easier just to take a nap and hope it’s a better day when I wake up.