Friday, December 18, 2009

Monarch of the Forest

Nineteenth century farms included not just farm fields but also woodlots and forest. Ours at The Farmers’ Museum does as well. This farm has been used for about 180 years. Some of our current forest stands where once sheep pastured in the 1840’s.

You can see a legacy of that by the existence of this massive White Pine. This king of the forest started life in an open field! You can tell that by the open spacing of the branches, the twin trunk and how it grew outward instead of upward. That happens to trees growing in full sunlight that do not have to compete with other trees for sun. You can also see its great girth when compared to the size of a person.
This massive tree sprouted in a pasture’s edge and quickly grew too big for the sheep to eat. It grew upward and outward into a large spreading pine. We know sheep and cattle were grazed on this hill, and they likely took advantage of its shade. At some point in the last century a new fence was built about 100 feet away. Saplings sprouted, and a new forest grew up around this mature tree. You can see it is now bracketed by trees that may themselves be fifty or more years old.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

School Snow Day in Cooperstown

Last week, wide ranging storms dumped snow from Wisconsin to Massachusetts. Cooperstown schools took a “snow day”, which means students did not have to attend. Our Museum is officially closed to the public on snow days, but little actually changes in our winter schedule. I am still working in the blacksmith shop.

Life also goes on as normal at the farm. The cattle still need tending, the chicken and ducks get fed, and Zeb our horse goes out in all but the fiercest storms. Here is Jigs, one of our oxen. He looks like he is wondering, “What’s a snow day?”

Friday, December 11, 2009

Vistas from The Farmers' Museum

Here are some views of The Farmers’ Museum from a vantage point most visitors don’t get a chance to see.

The lane through the Farm’s pasture:

The cupola of the Carousel from above:

Zeb the Percheron down in the pasture:
Cooperstown and the Otesaga viewed from the top of the Farm’s pasture:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Forging Big Iron

Some days I forge nails and hooks from delicate pieces of ¼ inch mild steel. Some days the iron I work is a little bigger!

Part of the fun of blacksmithing is learning to solve the problems presented, no mater how large or small. This part is about 12 pounds and is made from a bar of ¾ inch by 1 ½ inch mild steel. It has been folded in half and is welded to itself.

The weld was needed to make a piece of iron that is large enough for the project. The next step is to punch a square hole punched in the center. That was done with a square punch and a helper with a sledge hammer.

Now I am shaping it. It is one small part of a larger project. I will leave the explanation of what it may become for a later post.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December 1st: Snow at The Farmers' Museum

December is coming in with a bang at The Farmers’ Museum. Our first real snowstorm started at about 8am on December 1. At first the snow was just small icy flakes falling from the grey sky. But within minutes large fluffy flakes were coming down.

I took a picture of the Lippitt Farmhouse before the snow began. Here is a picture of the Farm as the snow started. I interrupted the farmers during their morning chores to get a picture. The snow built up fast on their hat brims!

Finally here is a picture of the Farm covered in snow. This was quite a way to start the month of December!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Swift Red Fox

This November we had a new visitor to The Farmers’ Museum. It was a red fox. He had been visiting each dawn and dusk. The farmers are getting nervous, because foxes and farmers get along like, well, like a fox in the henhouse!

I was walking down a hill, and watched the fox retreat from an attempt to surprise our Cayuga ducks. Our farmer saw the fox stalking nearer. He yelled, the ducks jumped into the pond, and the fox left without a Thanksgiving dinner.
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