It’s another rainy weekend. So lots of time was spent indoors reading Foxfire books and taking care of Anna, who caught her first cold and has been very tired and irritable all weekend. Thomas, Anna and I went to an outdoor gardening fest at a local farming museum, before the weather got bad, on Saturday. We walked around the grounds of a 400 year old farm settlement at the Freilichtmuseum Lindlar which is comprised of several old farm houses, barns, and various other buildings containing a wood-shop, rope-maker, saddle-maker, beekeeper, weaver and baker. There were fields being cultivated by hand with a horse-drawn plow and several small vegetable gardens lining the paths which cover the museum grounds. On this particular weekend there was a spot set up where outdoor vendors were selling a multitude of plants, vegetables, herbs, hand-made crafts and foods. There were also goats, sheep, horses, pigs and chickens at various places along the circuit and an old home setup in the vein of the 19th century with a woman making butter by hand and cheese from the leftover buttermilk. At one point along the path we even had to make way for horses pulling a cart! It was nice to see things being done the old-fashioned way. Probably the best part of the outing for me though was the small settlement on the far end of the museum grounds. It had a barn with vertical stone slabs forming an ornately-patterned floor, with a stable on one end and a room with a loom on the other. Next to this barn was a small old thatched roof building with a chimney. Inside this large room was a stone oven built into the wall and a baker selling his freshly made breads and sheet cake. I ended up taking a few bites of that cake which was sprinkled with hemp seeds from the hemp plants growing nearby on it and it was heavenly. Unfortunately I understood all too well why. After taking a few bites I asked what kind of cake it was and he responded “Butterkuchen” or butter cake in English. Oh, well. I had better stick to making my own cakes, since I have been completely off dairy for about 7 months now due to Anna’s milk protein allergy.
Getting back to what I was reading this weekend, if you are interested in the way things used to be done in the old days then the Foxfire book series is a good way to read about the old-timers and how they lived back in the day (and the way a lot of them still live). I have been collecting Foxfire books since I was in high-school and they are an amazing reference for everything from gardening to making bee hives to telling ghost stories. The books were written in the 1970s by high-school English students and their teacher who thought it would be a good teaching model to get his students out into the hills of Georgia to interview the dying generation that live there and to find out how they live. The books consist of interviews with people who live off the land and don’t know what it’s like to buy everything one needs from a store. There is detailed information on how to do and make all sorts of things yourself and how to get by the way we all used to know how to at one point in time before commercialism and convenience buying took over our society. These books are great for a quick reference or for a pleasant Sunday read. The stories of life in the early 20th century are compelling and simple. The photos of the people telling these stories are sobering and true. An old man who has been making violins his entire life describes in great detail with illustrations how to do so, an elderly woman shares her gardening techniques for getting rid of pests the “organic way” and there are many more like them who just want to share their story before it dissipates and there is no one left to tell it.