Republication from Summer, 2019 — mix-up on WordPress.
Last Thursday I volunteered at the Littleton Museum’s 1860’s farm. Through the hard work, burnt food and oft mistakes, it is a place and a time in history that brings me joy.
Earlier in the day, we had a group of kindergartners touring the farms. They were well-behaved groups and as each group came in to the cabin I’d ask them their ages (five and six) and then ask, “Do you consider yourself babies?” Well, of course they’re not babies! They were adamant. “So, if you’re not babies, then you’re working hands on the farm.”
I’d go into detail of what their day would look like living 150 years ago with getting up at sunrise, cold water, firewood, hauling water, taking care animals, mucking the stalls, a hearty breakfast, then school; after which all the chores are repeated, with gardening chores added, dinner, homework, then bed; where they’d sleep three to four to a mattress. One group was quiet after the explanation, then a little girl sighed, “Well, that’s no fun.”
I was harvesting the last of the root vegetables (kohlrabi, turnips, carrots). The ground was frozen, so I kept going out as the sun would hit and warm another area. As I harvested and visited with guests, I’d wipe vegetables on my dishtowel apron and share with them, as we had a bountiful harvest.
Late in the afternoon the garden, now well sun-soaked, is a muddy mess. I’ve got dirt on my arms and face, my hair is falling out of my snood, my apron looks like a filthy rag. From inside the cabin I hear a little girl excitedly exclaim, “Mommy, look! It’s a princess!!” She comes running out and climbs the wooden gate to admire me. Laughing, I said, “Honey, if I’m a princess, I must be Cinderella before the ball.”
Her mom asked me if her daughter could come in the garden to see ‘real’ carrots. I saw the young miss had on princess sparkly gold shoes. “She’s welcomed to come in, and even help pull carrots, but I warm you, it is a muddy mess.” The little girl was through the gate before I finished. As I visited with the mom, the little girl and our Farmer Steve harvested all the rest of the carrots. On the ones that were tougher to pull out of the ground, she would gleefully shout “Mommy, look what I did!” They went home with a few well-deserved harvested carrots and a muddy little princess.
It was a great day to be a volunteer on the 1860s farm.