Monday, June 30, 2014

Sunday on the Farm: Historic Waterloo Farm

I've said it before - numerous times before - and I'll say it again: I love reenacting at historic Waterloo Farm way out in Grass Lake, Michigan.
First off, the ride out there is beautiful, with the hilly, winding road dotted with other very old structures along the way.
And the farm itself, originally built in sections over a couple of decades during the mid-to-late 19th century by the Ruehle family, has been beautifully restored to its Victorian appearance. (The name Ruehle was Americanized a number of years later to Realy).
The best part of this historical farm is that we get to play in it.
Oh yes we do!
We get to pretend that we are actually a farm family living in this house, and, of course, we take full advantage of this opportunity!
How did this come about?
How are we able to utilize this historic structure as our own home, rearranging furniture to our liking and such?
Well, do you remember a posting I wrote late in 2013 called All You Have to do is Ask?
That's what I did.
I asked.
The wonderful people who run this place knew me and "my kind" (living historians) well enough that they trusted we would take great care of the house and the furniture and other valuable objects inside.
They also liked my idea of showing family life rather than be typical museum presenters.
So every year now - sometimes two or three times a year - we get to, in a way, become the Realy family and speak of our everyday lives living as farmers in a very rural part of Jackson County, Michigan.
And how wonderful it is!
Over the seven or eight years we've reenacted at Waterloo Farm we have had the opportunity to "live history" in such a way that very few other places allow. In fact, it was at Waterloo that I began my immersion journey:
One year we did a mourning scenario and turned the house into a house of mourning including having the coffin set up in the parlor.

We then had a funeral procession to the family graveyard. Yep - I was one of the pallbearers.

Another year we did a home remedies presentation. Guess who got to lay on the day bed and be cared for all day? My "wife" here was giving me medicine from an "invalid cup."

But mostly we become an average 1860's farm family and enjoy each others company.

Some of our very best times here at Waterloo farm is when we celebrate Christmas!

It is my hope that one day I might be able to do a few farm chores so we can take our presentation even further.
Until then, I hope you enjoyed a few of the photos from past excursions, as well as the following images from June 2014 .
This is the Realy farm, built in the mid-to-late 19th century

That's my wife in the center at her spinning wheel. The young lady on the left will sometimes portray our daughter. The young girl on the right recently joined the 21st Michigan, though she's been reenacting for at least a half-dozen years. She is also on the board of directors at Waterloo Farm.

Though we can purchase ready made fabric for our clothing and other needs, my wife still enjoys spinning wool into yarn as she did many years ago. She finds it to be a relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon and yet not be idle.

Yes, we do have a hired girl who helps my wife to keep the house looking tidy. Why are we making her work on a Sunday, you ask? She doesn't mind doing some light tasks to keep herself busy, therefore she swept our porch of the mess from the cottonwood trees.

And a wonderful and thorough job she does!

Here I am, standing upon my porch.
As I strolled through the farm property on this very warm – nay, HOT – Sunday afternoon, wearing what you see in this photograph and carrying my carpet bag, one of the modern visitors called me a doctor. I politely corrected this person by stating that I was, in fact, a farmer. She looked me up and down and said that I was certainly not a farmer, not dressed the way I was.  I then explained that, yes I certainly was, that this was Sunday – the Lord’s Day – a day of church and rest – therefore, though I did have my daily morning and evening chores to do, I also had time for relaxing; it is my one day that I actually can have time to wear my nicer clothing and not worry as much about work.
Except, of course, during planting and harvest time. That’s a different story altogether.

Here is my wife and I standing on "our" porch. Being that this was nearing the time of the Independence Day celebration, my wife decided to wear her patriotic apron.

One of those circuit-riding photographers happened by and took a likeness of us.

He also took a tintype of our daughter and our young servant - they are great friends.

Yes, this man is certainly prepared to take anyone's images on his journey across the land!

Peering through the window. Because there is little work to be done on Sunday, she sometimes finds herself daydreaming of life beyond the farm.

Strolling through the acreage dressed in your Sunday best on a beautiful summer's day always fends off boredom.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the stories and caption from Waterloo Farm 2014.
We are already making plans for a fall visit.


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