Thursday, September 22, 2016

An 18th Century Fall Harvest Celebration

The post you are about to read is a celebration of my favorite season, Autumn, in my favorite era of American history, the colonial times.
And now the two are together - - -
If you don't want to read it off of your computer, just print it out and cozy up next to your fireplace, candle, or betty lamp and allow yourself to journey into autumn past. 
I hope you enjoy it
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Come with me as I open the door to the past...
I really, really enjoy wearing 1770s period clothing. Yes, more than wearing Civil War era clothing.
But because there are fewer reenactments of the 1770s in my general area, I  have to sort of make up my own kind of 'personal events,' meaning I will grab any and every opportunity that comes my way to throw on my one or two-buttoned shirt, waistcoat, coat, breeches, cravat, clocked stockings/hose, buckle shoes, and tricorn (or cocked) hat and head off to Greenfield Village (or anywhere else historical)...just because.
In fact, I've been doing this for every fall harvest weekend held at Greenfield Village over the past few years. It's a great opportunity for a photo shoot. Well, not just a photo shoot - we also really enjoy spending time surrounded by all of the traditional historical activities that autumn has to offer inside the historic open-air museum.
But I hope what you see here doesn't make me seem like I'm vain or anything of that sort because I'm in so many of the photos, for I am not that way at all. What I wanted to do was to put myself into period scenarios strictly out of my love and want for being a part of history.
Does that make sense?
~ Crossing through the space-time continuum bridge...back to 1770...
Hey, did you know that
I'm always going back in time?
I am the backwards traveller
Ancient wool unraveller...

(Paul McCartney)
(I'm so vain...
I probably think this blog is about me!):


Harvest Home! Now Is the Autumn Time of Year
Okay - - made it to the generation of America's founding!

As we make our way down the path, our first stop will be at the home of merchant and ship builder John Giddings.
Greeting me on the other side of the bridge was this beautiful scene from October 1770. This is the home of John and Mehetabel Giddings, which originally stood on Meeting House Hill in Exeter, New Hampshire from around 1750 until Henry Ford brought it to Greenfield Village in 1929.
Giddings, a prosperous merchant and shipbuilder, built and lived in this home with his wife and their five children: Mary (1752), John (1754), Dorothy (1758), Mehetabel (1764), and Deborah (1770).
In December of 1790, it became the home of New Hampshire's first Secretary of State, Joseph Pearson, who, inside this house, married Captain Gidding's daughter, Dorothy, in April of 1795.
Now, the Giddings have little or no need to worry about plowing or harrowing land, for in his occupational trade, Mr. Giddings has the wealth and means to supply the family with most of what they need. They wear much fancier garments than farmers wear, and even have servants to help keep the house clean, warm, lit, and prepare their meals. 
I was kindly welcomed into the home by Mary Giddings.

Mary and Dorothy Giddings were planning a harvest celebratory tea and awaited for their guests to arrive. They welcomed me to sit as I waited for the arrival of their father and offered me some Black Caps. Black Caps are apples that are baked in their skin upon ashes (or sometimes under or before a fire). The skins sometimes burn on one side, and make, well, Black Caps.
This was such a delicious treat that some people would imagine that it was time to seek another world if Black Caps were abolished.
(keep reading for the recipe). 
The ladies also served up Queen's Cake, Butter Drops (the cookies), as well as a plate of Chocolate Almonds - all popular dishes of the later 18th century.

'Twas a cooler fall day than usual this early October, and a warm fire was much needed and appreciated. I willingly helped Dorothy in getting some warmth into the room by adding fuel to the fire.

"You do me the honour, Miss Giddings, of allowing me to enjoy this fine repast of treats as such I've not had in many a day."

After an enjoyable delight, I asked if I may step into the kitchen to thank the servant for doing such a fine job in her cooking expertise. Though a bit befuddled, Miss Giddings honoured my request.
Inside the Giddings kitchen, where the fine foods of the house are cooked over the hearth by their hired girl.

Colonial Ken at your service.

"I wish you a good day, Madam.
May I compliment you on such
a fine repast of savory delights?"

The Giddings' servant girl made Black Caps in this way:
Cut 12 large apples in half and take out the cores and place them on a thin patty pan, or mazarine, as close together as they can lie, with the flat side downards; squeeze a lemon in two spoonfuls of orange-flower water and pour over them; shred some lemon peel fine and throw over them, and grate fine sugar all over; set them in a quick oven and half an hour will do them. When you send them to table, throw fine sugar all over the dish.
From The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Mrs. Glasse (from 1776)~

Before baking...

The kitchen cooking fire...
Well, in this day without instant mass communication, I knew not when the very busy Mr. Giddings would arrive home, and I could no longer wait, so I found it best for me to be on my way. The Daggetts, a farming family I had met in earlier time travel excursions, had asked if I might be willing to help them out in a project and, of course, with a splendid repast that I knew Mrs. Daggett would conjure up for dinner, I found it best to take my leave.
The Daggetts lived quite a ways from the Giddings 
so I concluded a coach would be the wisest choice 
to travel the long distance.  
I awaited outside the tavern for the carriage to show...

Rather than sit inside the coach, the driver kindly granted me permission to take the reins and to give me a driving lesson. 

Off toward the countryside I then travelled, along Shoddy Hill Road - the very same road curriers gallup down to pass on important news and information - possibly to warn the townsfolk of the Regular Army coming up to requisition their stores. 
Ahhh...there 'tis. The breakback-style house so popular in the 18th century belonging to the Daggetts.

Wheat
One of the first things I notice as I moved past the farms to reach the Daggett residence is that not much has changed in the way of the harvesting of crops from the 1770s to the 1880s, nor has preparing the land for the next growing season. In fact, except for some slight improvements in the tools used for the chores, one could not tell too much of a difference between the two eras, unless you factored in the contrast in the 110 year clothing fashion differences.
No matter the fashion...when we think of fall, we think of harvest time. A time for the farmer to "reap what he'd sown."
Well...not so fast. There was much to be done before we could enjoy what was "sown."  
For example, flour, as you should know, is made from wheat, and each of its kernels of grain is covered by an outer layer called a husk. The stalks of this wheat plant were cut by hand with scythes and then tied into bundles. 
~Scythes~
One of the most well-known early farm and household tools,
scythes, in our modern times, are now considered as an 
accessory for horror movies or Hallowe'en costumes 
(the Grim Reaper or the 4th of the Four Horsemen of the 
Apocalypse comes to mind).  
This all important farming tool was 
used for cutting (or reaping) grain, stalks, grass and other crops.

In the next step, flails would be used to separate the kernels from the plant (or wheat from the chaff). A flail is an agricultural tool used for threshing to separate grains from their husks. To flail, one stick is held and swung, causing the other to strike a pile of grain, loosening the husks. The precise dimensions and shape of flails were determined by generations of farmers to suit the particular grain they were harvesting.
The pounding of the flails also loosened the husks so that they would easily come away from the grain.
 ~Flail~
With a flail, one man could thresh 7 bushels of wheat,  
8 of rye, 15 of barley, 18 of oats, or 20 of buckwheat 
in a day.
The flail remained the principal method of threshing 
until the mid-19th century, when mechanical 
threshers became widespread.
And here I am using a flail to thresh the grain
Caught in mid-swing!

~Winnowing Basket~
To catch the grain.
Once the wheat was threshed, the kernels were put into a basket and tossed up into the air where the wind would catch the husks and blow them away, leaving cleaned grain behind to fall back into the basket. This was known as winnowing.
The winnowing process also separated weevils or other pests stored in the grain. 

With all you've read so far to "get" flour, we still have another step to go!  
Now we must use a hand quern, which would have been used when no other means of grinding wheat into flour was available. The quern, a tool from the iron age, was like a mini-gristmill and might be used when one moved into a new settlement where no gristmill had been built yet. Of course, the manner of using a quern was not only a tedious task, but it took an excessive amount of time to get enough flour worth baking.
Fortunately, most settlements had a gristmill not too distant away.
There were some areas that had large grinding stones where the upper stone grinding wheel was turned by animals, generally oxen, while the bottom remained stationary.
However, it was the water-powered gristmills housed in great two or three story structures situated near a stream that were the most popular means of making flour from your wheat. Folks would haul their yield miles to go to the nearest water wheel mill, sometimes taking a day or more for travel time.
Now, after all of these steps, you have flour (which is not nearly as fine as the flour you purchase in a 21st century store, by the way) and are ready to prepare to make and bake bread.

Okay - - just because your harvest is in doesn't mean you can sit back and relax until springtime. Prepping your land for the next growing season is a must, and one way to prep was by sowing cover crops (crops that are grown to enrich your soil for the next growing season). There was also plowing, harrowing and planting your root crops in the early fall for a spring harvest.
The most popular plow in the 18th century was the wooden mold-board, just as what you see here from around 1775. The mold-board is the part that lifts and turns the dirt. 
By the later part of the 19th century, the mold-board was made from cast iron. But both were pulled by horses in roughly the same manner.
For a farm family to survive, the work was never done...so please keep this all in mind as we visit the Daggetts.

I wasn't quite sure what Mr. Daggett was wanting me to do. Plowing to prepare the land for next planting? Harvesting? Making a rick of hay?
The Daggett Farm Hay:
The hay would have been made into a rick although some of it would have gone into the loft of the stable for horses.
A hay rick, by the way, is a stack of hay used as a covering or thatching for protection from the weather. Many farmers would bank their homes with hay during the fall to help insulate it from the winter's cold.

Samuel, a housewright by trade, built this break back/saltbox house sometime between 1746, when 40 acres of land was deeded to him by his father, and 1758, the year he married his wife, Anna Bushnell. 
I offered my assistance as the Daggett daughters, Asenath and Tabitha, worked hard in the kitchen, preparing the day's meal. 'Twas a fine harvest, allowing for a good serving of vegetables before preservation was to begin.

Over the Daggett hearth were more 18th century delectable delights, including Essence of Ham, Apple Tansy, Windsor Beans, Dressed Parsnips, Crookneck or Winter Squash Pudding, Applesauce, Apricot Chips, Hasty Fritters, Common Peas Soup, and Brandied Peaches & Cheesecake for dessert.

From the kitchen garden...
The colonial farmer would have planted and cared for a variety of root vegetables such as turnips, potatoes, beets and other similar varities, then, come fall, would have stored them in stone-lined pits that would have prevented hard freezing. The earth is a great insulator, especially on a small hillside, and these outside “root cellars,” dug deep enough and lined with stone, provided the protection needed. The stone lining not only insulates, but keeps the items stored away cleaner. The heavy wooden cover/door with added straw insulation made access throughout the winter possible. A heavy layer of snow would further help to keep the storage area from freezing. This would normally be in addition to the cellar of the house, also used for food storage.
Cabbages would have been pulled, root and all, and would have been stored in similar ways. Pumkins and other winter squash would have been kept in house cellars or maybe in garrets (the attic), to prevent freezing. This would allow them to be used well into the winter months. 
Several other root vegetables like parsnips and salsify would have remained in the frozen ground of the garden and dug out as needed.  
Beans and peas would have been dried and stored away in sacks in cool dry locations by this time of year. Died peas and beans used in soups, stews, and baked bean dishes were left to fully mature on the vines or stalks in the field. Once completely dry, they were pulled by the roots and loaded onto a cart or wagon and hauled back to the barn. The partically dried plants could then be attached to long poles (in some cases) set up in the field. Once fully dried, the bean poles were then hauled back to the barn to await further processing. This allowed for a compact way to store them.
Much like threshing grain (as mentioned earlier), beans and peas were laid out on a flat surface, usually on a tarp, and hit with the wooden flail. Just like with wheat, the wooden flail would break apart the pods and loosen up the dried beans or peas. Once loose from pods, the beans and peas were carefully scooped up and then cleaned, again like wheat, by winnowing. Once clean, they would be stored away in barrels or clean sacks. Dried green beans were re-constituted and added to soups or stews in the winter and early spring when nothing green was available.
With careful planning, all these sorts of vegetables would carry over the family’s needs until the new summer produce became available again. It’s no wonder that the first early greens from the garden were so looked forward to after a winter of starchy root vegetables.
When I visit the Daggett farm in the fall, I always find the family harvesting and storing away a variety of garden produce.
Drying plants for winter use hang over the kitchen fireplace

Besides the varieties of squash, beans, lettuce and other vegetables being dried to help sustain the family, Anna Daggett would have also grown plants for medical purposes as well, including wormwood, which was a purgative for stomach issues or worms, tansy was used to stop bleeding and bruising, and chamomile, which was used, same as it is today, to make a calming tea.
Enjoying the fruits of their labor
Fruit, especially apples, was another important food item carefully preserved for the winter. Apples with such names as Rambo (from 1640), Baldwin (1740), Grimes Golden & Belmont (late 18th century), Roxbury Russet (from early 1600s), and the still popular McIntosh (late 18th century) could have been a part of Mr. Daggett's orchard. Each have a different characteristic, flavor, and were ultimately used in different ways, either for sale or for the family's own use. With such a large amount of apples, there was a need for storage, and those not packed carefully away in sawdust were made into apple butter, apple sauce, pies, dowdies, dumplings, fritters, and, of course (and perhaps most importantly) cider.
The Daggetts had very limited technology when it came to “canning” as we know it today. Fruit jams or preserves were kept in small crocks or glass jars and sealed with bees wax, spirit soaked parchment, or animal bladders that when tightly drawn over the jar opening, would dry and seal off the jar (they were reusable). Lots of fruit was dried by slicing and lying out in baskets or on wooden racks. Fresh fruit was carefully packed in barrels whole to keep in a cool spot.
A family could never have too much wood: for warmth and for cooking.

Upon my own visitation to the Daggett farm I have witnessed the spinning of wool into yarn as well as the usage of flower peddles, roots and berries...and even beetles (!) for the colorful dyeing process.
The large walking (or great) wheel was used to spin, and it's here where one can watch as the dirty raw wool is carded by carding paddles before actually being spun into yarn. As this procedure is done, the presenter explains every step, as you shall see shortly.
Outside in the yard a large vat of water is boiled over a fire pit. This is part of the operation of having the spun wool dyed to a variety of colors. The women of the family would hunt through fields and woods for flowers, leaves, and bark to dye their wool, crushing walnut shells for brown, goldenrod blossoms for yellow, and roots of the madder plant for red.
You may enjoy this short video clip I took to hear the explanation of how our colonial ancestors got the variety of colors in their clothing:

Plants, roots, and nuts crushed to make dye
 Here is a run-down of what the folks at Daggett use for their presentation (from a Daggett Farm presenter):

 Blue~the best dye for this is Indigo. There is a plant called woad that could be used but it is highly invasive.
 
Brown~black walnuts. The walnuts have to be allowed to rot, the longer they rot the darker brown they will be.

Yellow~ The inner bark from the osage orange tree works, but the easiest to find is calendula petals. Some people call the flower a pot marigold as well.

Green~ the best way to get green is an over dye of blue and yellow. Dye the yarn yellow first and then dip it in the blue.

Red~The cochineal beetle gives the best reds. With these a little goes a long way.

Pink~Pokeberry (it's nice that these can be used for something as the seeds of this plant are toxic) Daggett has one of these plants in the garden.

Orange~Madder root. The madder plant needs to be taken out and the root actually broken open (it will appear bright orange) I believe there is also a madder plant at Daggett.

Purple~ Logwood

Black~This is an over dye of logwood and black walnut.

Before dyeing any wool yarn it needs to soak in a mordant; Alum is the one that is used at Daggett.
As with washing the wool one has to use the same temperature water and not stir or agitate it or it will felt. 
Also these items get tied up in cheesecloth so that nothing sticks to the yarn.
  
The ingredients are boiled in water until the liquid becomes the desired shade, then the skeins of yarn will simmer in the vat of dye.

Dye preparation

The finished product, ready to be made into socks, hat, scarf, or some other cold weather item.
And to think these beautiful colors all came from the natural dyeing process.


The walking wheel - or great wheel - at Daggett farm

Here is a very good and entertaining video clip explanation on the spinning process, from carding raw wool through the wool becoming yarn.

In New England (where the Dagget farm was originally located), the use of great wheels slowed down greatly by the 1830s when the technology of the textiles mills had advanced in their ability to process wool. That's not to say they were no longer in use anywhere, for rural farms continued their use for decades yet to come. One's access to the goods produced by textile mills was influenced greatly by one's location.

And the smaller Saxony wheel
Idle hands are the devil's workshop
There are no idle hands here in the Daggett house!

Passing away an afternoon in the fall of 1760 by knitting and crocheting garments for warm winter-wear during the up-coming cold weather season...

The Daggett kitchen never stops during any time of the year but it's especially during the fall when the activity rises to its greatest heights. No truer adage for a woman is a woman's work is never done, for it seems to have been written more for the wife of the 1770s than for women of our modern time.
But then, a man's work is never done was just as true for the colonial farmer or merchant...
You see, the corn had to be cut and shocked, grain threshed, the hay stacked inside the barn, plowing, harrowing, the house banked, fences mended, wood cut, repairs to house and barn and furniture...
Twas a busy day at the Daggett home with activity occurring both inside and out.

Ah ha! I see why Mr. Daggett called on me!
While the ladies of the house were very busy cooking and preserving food, and spinning and dyeing wool, Samuel had his own chore outside making a goodly amount of beer for the winter.
But before you make your fisted-hands-on-the-hip stance and scowl while saying, "Men!" in the harshest of tones through pierced lips, please understand, beer and ale was a major dietary staple in the colonies. Literally everyone partook. 
And it was necessary.
Beer was the common item which spanned generations; from cradle to grave, everyone drank beer. Infants were fed beer and it was especially recommended for nursing mothers.
Permit me, Sir, the honour of assisting you in your endeavor.
 Farmers, laborers, merchants, lawyers, and craftsman all drank beer. It was a common thread in all their lives and this beverage would even play an important role in the formation of government.
It was not uncommon for drinking to begin even before breakfast and it continued with every meal throughout the day.
Now, before you begin this diatribe on our "drunkard" ancestors, let me tell you, it just wasn't so; our founding generation was not falling down drunk all the time like the insinuation in the silly introduction of the all-knowing History Channel's "Founding Fathers" series, where a so-called "historian" makes a point to state something along the lines that it was a wonder the Founding Fathers could even stand up with all the beer they drank. Well, hey! Guess what? Although there were those who drank to get drunk (just like in the 21st century), most in the colonial times drank beer because it was healthier than water. Most did not drink to get inebriated.
I simply abhor these myths that try to make our founding generation look far less great than what I believe they were.
Preparing to make the beer
Ben Franklin’s favorite type of beer could have been similar in gravity and strength to the modern version of an Old Ale (1.060 to 1.086). Franklin’s own writings refer to, “the type of strong, harvest-time ale, or October ale.” Yet, his regular drink couldn’t have been excessively strong because he was known to have intellectual discussions in Taverns while, “lifting a few pints of ale,” and Franklin felt (along with many of the time) that ale was a healthful tonic if consumed in moderation.
In colonial times, brewers took malted barley and cracked it by hand. They would then steep (or soak) the grains (including corn) in boiling water. They called the process mashing. 
Mashing:
Eighteenth century texts say to, “Bring your water to a boil and put it into the mash tun.When it has cooled enough that the steam has cleared and you can see your reflection in the water, add your malt to the tun."

This translated to a mash temperature of  approximately 154F. This mash temperature is supported by both Noonan’s recipe for an 1850 Scottish ale and Daniels’ recommendation for an Old Ale.
Mashing allowed the brewer to extract the sugars from the barley.
As I stirred the mash, I noticed it smelled just like the modern 'Malto-Meal.'
Seriously...it did!
Brewers in colonial times took the mash they had created, which had the consistency of oatmeal, and dumped it into a sawed-off whiskey barrel. The modified tub acted as a sieve, filtering the sugary liquid from the grain. Modern brewers pass the mash into a device called the mash/lauter tun for straining.
Are we ready for the hops yet?
 In researching the era, it is believed that due to the high cost of imported hops and the documented hop shortages in Colonial America, the hopping rates would have been appreciably less than that of Old Ale and more comparable to a Strong Scotch Ale.
The colonial brewer returned the strained liquid to the boil kettle, or the copper as it was called, for a 2-hour boiling. He added hops, chilled the brew, sprinkled it with yeast, and drained the final product into wooden kegs. The brewer then placed those kegs in a cellar for three weeks to a month.
Yeast is added, which helps turn the sugar from the malt into alcohol.

Social historian from Camden, New Jersey, Richard Pillatt, tells us a story of beer's importance in our history:
"After we announced (that we were doing a historic beer-brewing demonstration) this summer, I was in a nearby restaurant eavesdropping on some people who were discussing our publicity, and one of them asked the other, 'what does BEER really have to do with history?' Well, in terms of daily life in 18th-century Camden County, one word easily answers that question: 'Everything,' I said. Beer played a central role in the social, economic and political life of almost all our regional ancestors. It provided daily nutritional sustenance, it was made from the crops that they grew and bought and sold in huge quantities, and it was the key lubricant in the networks of local taverns that were the culture's primary social and political venues."
~Hops on the barrel head~

Ahh...tis always a fine day when I visit my friend Samuel Daggett! And he never fails to send me off with gifts from his garden.
Mr. Daggett told me to return in a few months time and he shall have some beer for me.
Aye, I shall!
(not really - - I'm not a beer drnker, but it was great fun to help out in the making of it!)

The time was drawing near for me to head back from whence I came, and I still had one more stop to make. With the condition of the roads not of a high order, we wound snake-like over hill and dale, through thick woods and meadow land, riding in the coach like a ship rocking or beating against a heavy sea; straining all her timbers with a low moaning sound as she drove over the contending waves. 
As I rode back, I made a point to stop at this log cabin occupied by the Hamilton family: Mr. & Mrs. Hamilton and their three children - David, Daniel, and Ann.
(If you know well Greenfield Village, then you might recognize this as the McGuffey Cabin, built around 1780, though I did a little photographic trickery to give it a more lived-in look! I chose the Hamilton Family because they were the main characters in one of my favorite books as a child, The Cabin Faced West, fictional drama about an actual family who lived in Pennsylvania during the birth of our Nation.) 
As it was still a might cold out, with a harsh wind a-blowing, I set myself down near the fire for a warm.

Mrs. Hamilton prepares the ingredients for a fall favorite, apple pie.

Ann stoked the wood and added more fuel, not only for the heat but for baking the apple pie.
To make an apple pie from a 1776 cookbook: make a good puff paste crust, lay some round the sides of the dish, pare and quarter apples thick, throw in half the sugar you design for your pie, mince a little lemon peel fine, throw over, and squeeze little lemon over them, then a few cloves, here and there one, then the rest of your apples, and the rest of your sugar. You must sweeten to your palate, and squeeze a little more lemon. Boil the peeling of the apples and the cores in some fair water, with a blade of mace, till it is very good; strain it, and boil the syrup with a little sugar, till there is but very little and good, pour it into your pie, put on your upper-crust and bake it. You may put in a little quince or marmalade, if you please.
From The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Mrs. Glasse (from 1776)


Aye, there is still another harvest chore that must be done:

 Wife make thine owne candle,
Spare pennie to handle.
Provide for thy tallow, ere frost cometh in.
And make thine owne candle, ere winter begin
(Thomas Tusser - 16th century English poet)

I've read that a typical middle class home in the 1750's would go through around 500 to 700 candles a year. And that may even be a conservative amount for some. Of course, the well-to-do (such as the Giddings), who probably purchased their candles from the local chandler, could have burned double or even triple that amount without too much concern.
Let's think about this for a moment - - there are 365 days in a year, and if one were to use a single candle per day, that right there is 365 candles needed. It only makes sense to think to double that amount when it comes to a light source, especially in the darkness of winter.
Most 18th century homes were as self-sufficient as they could be and those who lived in them did their best to produce as many things needful to life as they could, and this did include candles. As part of their domestic work, colonial women usually were the ones who carried the entire candlemaking process from start to finish, though many times the children, and even the men at times, would help out as well.
Artificial light in the 18th century was truly a luxury. People were used to working by daylight while indoors, so lighting a candle when the sun was up was rare. It was customary for folks to move from room to room to get the most out of the day's light. Generally, candles were lit only during the nighttime hours, and sparingly so, due to the lengthy candle-making procedure. 
In a one room cabin, three light sources would not have been an acceptable practice. Anne Hamilton probably would have had only the fireplace going, more than likely. If her mother found her to be so wasteful as what we see here, I'm sure a tongue-lashing would have been forthcoming.
Though it could be done any time of year (as long as there were supplies), the usual period for making candles was in early-to-mid November. It had to be just cold enough for quick hardening, and followed shortly after fall hunting, where the collected waist fat from the butchered animals was used to make tallow for dipping. These precious fats were hoarded carefully, protected in covered crocks. The animal fat was cut into pieces and rendered (melted). The fat was boiled, caked, pressed, sieved, and purified several times. It must be remembered that candlemaking was not the fun hobby then as it is in our modern times; it was a backbreaking, smelly, greasy task.  
Wicks were made from cotton, hemp, or, less often, from milkweed. If they lived near a general store, or maybe if a peddler happened by, thick string could be bought to use as wicks.  
Once the fat was melted down and the wicks were tied to the sticks, the wicks would then be dipped repeatedly into a tub of tallow, and with each dip the candles became larger and larger until the desired length and width was had.
It's here that we can quote Susan Blunt, a woman from the early 19th century, who remembered her 18th century mother candle dipping:
"Mother used to dip candles in the fall, enough to last all winter. When a beef was killed in the fall, she would use all the tallow for candles. On the evening before, we would help her prepare the wicks. The boys would cut a lot of rods and she would cut the wicks the length of a candle and then string them on the rods.
 
"In the morning she would commence her day's work... 
"...She would dip each one in the hot tallow and straighten out the wicks so the candles would be straight when they were finished.
By raising the candles (out of the kettle) at just the right speed and working on a day with a moderate temperature, the fine quality of the candles would be assured. The candles would be cooled overnight and the bottom ends cut off neatly. The finished candles were packed away in a mouse-proof container for safe storage."
Thirty to fifty dippings later, the wicks were taken off the sticks and another set was tied on.
The woman in the above photo has only 696 more to dip to get to the 700 candle quota! Could this be Susan Blunt's mother? Naw...it was Mrs. Hamilton!
As you probably have figured out, it took days to make the allotment of candles a family needed. Again, it was a mundane task, many times left to the children, but it was a necessary one.
And your kids get angry at you when told to put away their clothes! Do you think they could survive living in colonial times?

Well, the daylight was beginning to wane and I knew my time was nigh. I knew I must take my leave, so I bid the Hamilton's a fond farewell and continued finding my way back to the future.
The coach dropped me off at the tavern in town. As much as I enjoyed my stay in the autumn time of year in the 1770s, I knew it was time for me to journey through the continuum of time and space...back to the 21st century...to rejoin my family.
Who knows? Maybe next time they'll come with me. And if we find a cozy little saltbox house that we can call home, perhaps we'll stay...
It was not too long a journey from the tavern to the bridge to the future.

Back to the future:
Happy and I'm smiling, walking miles to drink your water.
Let us close our eyes, for outside their lives go on much faster.
Once I used to join in; every boy and girl was my friend.
Oh, we won't give in, let's go living in the past.
(Modified Jethro Tull lyrics)
When the farmer has fallowed and tilled all the land,
And scattered the grain with a bountiful hand
And the team that had labored with harrow and plough,
Has conveyed the rich produce safe home to the mow.

Sing, Harvest Home! Harvest Home!
And shout with full voices our Harvest home!
 


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The three main months of autumn - September, October, and November - is when harvest time takes place north of the Mason-Dixon. In times gone by, autumn was a period of hard work. What I tried to show here is not only the labor of these hard-working people, but of the satisfaction our ancestors received for a job well done. The fruits of their labor ensured their survival, and there was no time for "sick days," nor did they have a "sick bank" to enter if they felt 'stressed out' and needed time off to 'get their head together.'
If one didn't put their time in, they, and possibly others, didn't eat. The family worked like a well-oiled machine - one clog in the cog and it all went down.
I am also hoping that the reader will find a deeper appreciation for the way our ancestors lived and maybe even be enticed to grow their own kitchen garden by way of non-gmo heirloom seeds.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 
I plan to travel back in time, once again, to search out more eighteenth century adventures. Maybe at Christmas tide...or maybe sooner than you think...
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little autumn time-travel excursion to the colonial times. I certainly enjoyed travelling there. As mentioned at the top of this post, if I have an opportunity to wear my colonial clothing, I will take it...even if I am the only one wearing such fashion!
Until next time, see you in time - - -



Many, many thanks to Ian & Carrie Kushnir and April Folcarelli for coming out to Greenfield Village with me and taking such wonderful photos. I appreciate it!
(All other pictures - you know, the ones I'm not in - were taken by me).

For more on the harvest time, including 19th century, please click HERE
To study in greater detail the workings of the Daggetts and their home, please click HERE
To learn more about Taverns and Travel in the 18th century, please click HERE.
To learn more about food and cooking in colonial times, please click HERE
For an overview of everyday life during colonial times, please click HERE
Celebrating Patriot's Day - the New England Holiday - at Greenfield Village: HERE
And to learn about celebrating Christmas in colonial times, please click HERE
Happy Thanksgiving...in the colonial times - please click HERE



SOURCES:
Some of the information about beer brewing came from THIS Benjamin Franklin site.
And THIS SITE as well.
However, much of the brewing information also came from the master brewer at the Daggett Farm in Greenfield Village, Mr. Roy Mayer.
Other bits came from THIS SITE.
Some info came from the presenters at Daggett Saltbox Farm House in historic Greenfield Village
Other info came from the presenters at Firestone Farm House in historic Greenfield Village
And still more came from Jim Johnson of The Henry Ford (Greenfield Village)
And other farming bits came from  CSU Harvest and Farmscape  
Books that helped me out for this posting include:
The Gristmill by Bobbie Kalman
Diary of an Early American Boy and Seasons of America Past by Eric Sloane 

























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