Monday, October 14, 2019

Historical Harvest & Food at Greenfield Village's Fall Flavors Weekends 2019

Very recently I posted a collection of my favorite pictures taken from the months of April through early September at historic Greenfield Village.  I mentioned in that post that I would have plenty more pictures to show of the fall time of year.
Well,  here they are.  A kaboodle collection of photographs with snappy commentary that is sure to get you into the fall mood and harvest spirit.


Aside from the special  "Holiday Nights"  event at Christmas time,  I believe it is the two weekends of the Fall Flavors/Fall Harvest that have the most buildings staffed with  period-dressed  presenters.  During the final weekend in September and the first weekend in October visitors can find the following historic structures housed with presenters wearing period-correct clothing:
~Cohen's Millinery Shop
Ready for the fall harvest at Daggett.
No,  I didn't dress period for the harvest this year.  
This picture is from last year.
~Daggett Farm House
~Eagle Tavern
~Edison Homestead
~Firestone Farmhouse and Barn
~Ford Farm
~Giddings House
~Grimm Jewelry Shop
~J.R.  Jones General Store
~Mattox Family Home
~McGuffey Cabin
That's a big bang for your buck!
I try to visit two and sometimes three times during those four special days to see most of the activities.  When the opportunity arises,  I'll even dress period as well during my visit.
However,  due to a variety of reasons,  this year I did not don my cocked hat,  knee breeches, and buckled shoes,  though I have included a photo that I've not posted before from last year's excursion.
Anyhow,  let's begin at the beginning of the harvest:  Lammas Day.
"Mama"  Jean Dillard with the
bread my wife made for her.
Every year,  on August 1,  many colonial farmers celebrated a holiday known as Lammas Day,  which marked the first major harvest of what was considered to be the beginning the fall season.  It was on this day that the farming family attended church and the head of the household brought with him the first loaf of bread to be blessed.  That loaf was used as the center of their Thanksgiving feast.  As such,  Lammas Day became the first of numerous Thanksgivings held during the harvest season.  And so it remained for many British Isle and colonial families until,  at least for America,  a national Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed toward the end of the century by President Washington.
Into the 19th century,  the Lammas Day holiday faded away.
This year my wife baked bread and wanted to make sure Mrs.  "Mama"  Jean Dillard received a loaf.  Without realizing the date,  it just so happened that we gave it to her on August 1st.
Hmmm...maybe...then again,  maybe not.
But there were other signs of the harvest in those ancient days.  On August 3,  diarist Noah Blake wrote:
"Very warm. The harvest fly was two days late."
The  'harvest fly'  is what we call the cicada.  It's supposed to make its first appearance on Lammas Day,  but the year of Blake's diary,  1805,  it decided to come a bit later,  it seems.
I,  myself,  hear the loud evening buzzing of the harvest fly/cicada every August  (though many years  it actually arrives in late July around my Michigan area).
So here in our modern times we note the beginning of autumn on the Autumnal Equinox,  which always falls on a single date between September 21 and September 24,  though many people today tend to feel that fall begins directly following Labor Day.  It was once believed in long ago times,  especially in the Celtic regions,  that August,  September,  and October were considered the three months of autumn  rather than our September 21 through December 21  (ish).
As for me,  my own personal fall - and thus harvest time - begins when my family and I go apple picking,  which usually occurs either just before or just after the autumnal equinox.  Yes,  I combine harvest and autumn together,  for they do go hand in hand,  and I celebrate both the most during the Fall Flavors/Fall Harvest Weekends at Greenfield Village.

Now,  these two weekends at the Village concentrate on food,  this is true.  As stated in their program:
"One of the most deeply rooted ways of understanding American history is through food.  In Greenfield Village,  we share over 300 years of food stories,  from the sowing of seeds to the setting of tables.
During Fall Flavors Weekends,  learn how authentic seasonal recipes are made from freshly harvested ingredients in our historic homes.
Fall Flavors Weekends showcases the harvest season through stories and demonstrations in eight historic homes."
Upon entering the gates of Greenfield Village,  I saw a period-
dressed young lady moving rather quickly  through the streets.  
The style of her clothing gave the clue to where she was headed 
to:  the 18th century home of John Giddings.
I knew exactly the image that I wanted to capture:  walking up the walkway to this majestic old home.
And I did!
I was pleased with the way this turned out - it just sort of brings 

one back to a time and place that is no longer.

And then I kept on clicking and was able to capture--------
-----the young lady entering the house.
Both photographs turned out as I had hoped,  which doesn't always seem to happen.
So let us visit inside this home,  representing 1760s Exeter,  New Hampshire:
On such a cool and damp day,  there's little that can warm like a 
fire in the hearth.

A-waiting guests for an autumn tea.

M G  -  the initials of Mehetable Giddings,  wife of John.
The Giddings House is not usually staffed by presenters,  much less those wearing clothing of its time.  For most of the year the structure is plexi-glassed off,  viewable to only what one can see from the entrance hall.  But on the harvest weekends,  as well as on Holiday Nights,  guests can enter the everyday parlor,  from which the above photographs were taken,  and then step into the kitchen where the servant works preparing a special meal for the tea party:
The cook could be preparing a number
of delights,  including Sweet Meatballs,
Kickshaws,  and even chocolate. 

There was a time when the kitchen was not seen by the visiting 
public...ever.  But it wasn't that many years ago when the Village 
decided to open the kitchen up for special presentations, such as 
the Fall Flavors Weekends and Holiday Nights.

Jane proudly shows off 
her sweetmeat pudding.

The next stop is another house from the same period as Giddings,  one that regular readers will certainly be most familiar with - the Daggett Farm House.
And the excitement around this break-back-style structure centers 
on beer-making.  According to presenter Roy,  making beer 
would have been more of a woman's job,  though men could have 
joined in the  "fun"  as well,  as seen here.
If you have an interest in colonial beer making,  please click HERE for my Colonial harvest posting,  where I go a bit in depth on the process;
An apron filled with kitchen garden goodies.
Candid shots such as this sometimes can make
the best looking pictures.  A sort of scene
out of time.

In the great hall and in the kitchen,  the women are busy preparing the noontime meal.

For this weekend the ladies are preparing cabbage pudding,  hashed 
mutton,  fried celery,  and snowballs.

The table is set and the food is nice and hot at the Daggett table.

Yes,  the folks who work and cook at the historic homes inside 
Greenfield Village really do eat what they prepare,  which does 
give an aura of viewing and sensing the past.
Except the beer.
They don't drink the beer they make.
At least,  not while they are at work (lol)

The Mattox Home - right out of the 1930s.

With all the canning,  the Mattox family will not be wanting for 
anything in the food department.

And matriarch Mama Jean will ensure that every chore,  
including feeding the chickens,  is taken care of while she 
prepares their dinner of  oxtails,  crackling bread,  fried apples 
and bacon,  and peach cobbler.

Over at the 1860s Susquehanna Plantation the ladies are cooking 
up meat puffs,  ochra,  dressed macaroni and carolas.


Open hearth cooking still existed in the 1860s,
contrary to what some may believe.

Ominous clouds of autumn roll past the Ford Farm,  giving us a 
few droplets of rain.

Inside the Ford kitchen,  Cindy is showing
her Summer Squash a la Oyster, 
(though they looked like onion rings lol).

And at the Edison Cottage,  where it's always 1915,  we see the 
homemakers preparing ham cooked in beer,  spinach croquettes,  
white grape salad,  and Woodford pudding.

The fall decor of 1915 adds to the ambience. 

This is one of the few times the William Ford Barn is open to the 
public for tours.  This barn was built in 1863 by Henry Ford's 
father,  William.
It was originally located across the road from the family homestead and stored grain and hay and, at times, tools and livestock.
This barn continues to house the horses that pull the carriages 
filled with the visitors to the Village. The horses are groomed and 
harnessed here as well.

It was very cool to watch them shoe the horses - something one 
does not see very often unless they are Amish or happen to work 
in a historic horse barn.

Now we will travel to the McGuffey Log Cabin.
William Holmes McGuffey,  who would one day author the McGuffey Readers School Books,  was born in this log home on the Appalachian frontier of Western Pennsylvania in 1800,  within a closely-knit Scottish-Irish family and community.
The McGuffey Cabin
According to sources at the Benson Ford Research Center,  there is a strong probability that this cabin was built by William’s maternal grandparents,  William and Jane Holmes,  in 1789.
Alexander McGuffey  (aged 30)  and his wife,  Anna Holmes  (aged 21),  began their married life in this log home.  While living there they had their first three children:  Jane  (1799),  William  (1800),  and Henry  (1802).
The McGuffey Cabin is not staffed with period-dress presenters 
very often.  So during the Fall Flavors Weekends and the Holiday 
Nights Christmas extravaganza the visitors get a special treat.

It looks like Amanda is preparing
oat cakes for the hearth.

Besides the oat cakes,  which she is preparing
to cook here,  roast rabbit,  stewed pears
and Turnbridge pudding were also on the menu.

It's always enjoyable to see this little cabin come to life as it 
would have been in the year 1800.

Firestone Farm always shows a wonderful fall harvest.  If you have ever read the book by Laura Ingalls Wilder called Farmer Boy,  which I have numerous times,  then know that it's here where the words written in those pages come alive.
Firestone Farm as it looked in the 1880s and as it looks now 
- one and the same.
Preparing a new field for planting in the spring by plowing in the fall was a very common practice. Working the sod several times by turning it over also puts the nutrients back into the soil with the underturned grasses breaking down into compost.
Also, winter wheat is planted in the fall.
If you look closely you can see two farmers plowing way-y-y 
back in the distance.

Ah,  here they are,  preparing the land for springtime.
Back in 2014 I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to 
plow behind a team of horses.  It truly was an amazing experience 
for me,  and I am honored to have been able to follow in the 
footsteps of my ancestors:
Yes,  that's me on the right back in 2014 doing my best to keep 
the furrows straight.  I didn't do too bad of a job.  Of course,  I 
had the finest farmer guiding my every step...AND I'm wearing 
my 1860s farming clothes to boot! 

The fall is when the field corn was harvested and by the end of September and early October, the corn at Firestone Farm would be standing in neat shocks upright for curing or drying.
Corn shocks standing in the farm yard.

Firestone Farm pre-dates the era of the silo,  when corn stalks 
were chopped up and made into a slightly fermented feed known 
as silage.
The inside stalks,  sheltered from the elements,  retained their 
nutritional value for quite some time and the actual shock made a 
handy manageable portion for the farmer to haul from the field 
for his cattle.

Across the way,  past the shocks,  we see the Soybean Laboratory 
building.  Built in 1930 in the Village,  it houses many various 
old-time farming implements and tools such as scythes,  
hayloaders,  spiketooth harrows,  handcorn planters,  sulky 
cultivators,  and so many more ancient farming tools.
Besides displaying the actual antique instruments,  this building also holds a wealth of information about 19th century farming and the tools used according to the season of the year.

Meanwhile,  over near the Firestone Farm dairy shed...
Apples are being pressed into cider.

And inside the kitchen...
Well,  unfortunately,  I did not make it in time
to see them cooking up their sauerkraut, 
apple butter,  boiled cod,  Dutch red wine
cabbage,  and apple custard.

But I did make it there in time
to see them clean up!

And,  of course,  down in the cellar the Firestones are stocking 
their fruits,  vegetables,  jams,  jellies,  and meats to help sustain 
them for the coming winter months.

And here we have hay being made into bails.

After dinner,  after chores,  and before evening activities,  the 
Firestone workers take a few minutes out of their late Sunday 
afternoon to set a spell on the porch of the farmhouse.

Hey now,  before we leave - - -
With the harvest done,  Greenfield Village is dressing itself up for 
their Hallowe'en event,  which is pretty spooktacular in itself!
Another Fall Flavors/Fall Harvest Weekends has come and gone.  This is always my favorite times to visit.  The whole feel of the time of year just seems to come alive.
And I'm not done yet with Greenfield Village,  for there is more fall activity coming up - - stay tuned!

Until next time,  see you in time.

My source for the Celtic calendar came from THIS site

To learn more about the Giddings Home,  click HERE
To learn more about the Daggett Home,  click HERE
To learn more about Firestone Farm,  click HERE
For a deeper understanding of a Victorian harvest,  click HERE
For a deeper understanding of a Colonial harvest,  click HERE
For a bit of Hallowe'en fun and history,  please click HERE

~   ~   ~