Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Four Seasons at Firestone Farm

This is the first of three  "Four Seasons"  postings.
The other two are of the 18th century Daggett House and my own 20th century-built house and how we spend our time there over the course of a year. 
I enjoy all four of Michigan's seasonal changes,  which is why I remain here.  And now,  with all three postings,  one can compare the 18th century Daggett to the 19th century Firestone to the 20/21st century Giorlando homes.


Over the course of a couple years I worked on a photographic project by photographing the four astronomical / meteorological / calendar seasons of southeastern lower Michigan.  And what better place to show our ever-changing year than on a farm?  Though Michigan is known as being part of the  'rust belt,'  it's actually more agricultural;  there are more farms here than anyone can imagine.  According to the State of Michigan website,  we have approximately 56,000 farms covering over ten million acres of farmland!
So I chose to do this little project at the historic  (1880's)  Firestone Farm,  now located in Greenfield Village.  It was originally built in the earlier part of the 19th century in Columbiana,  Ohio and was relocated to Greenfield Village for historical purposes and teaching opportunities.  I did this for a number of reasons,  first off being that it's,  well, historical!  Plus I don't believe private owners would appreciate me traipsing out to their property every month to take photographs of their land.
Finally,  it gave me a reason to visit Greenfield Village more often - - as if I really need an excuse to do that!
Of all the pictures shown here in this post,  there are only two that I did not take,  and they are the first two photos.  Both were taken by friends of mine who work for the Henry Ford.   Greenfield Village is closed from January until mid-April and therefore I have no access to the farm or anywhere else there during that time;  I sent them copies of the photos I had previously taken as a guide - which were matched up wonderfully!
Anyhow,  I hope you enjoy my year-long project.
WINTER - January: 
chopping wood,  collecting manure, caring for the livestock - 
all winter chores.

(Lee Cagle took this pic - thank you!)

WINTER into SPRING:  March 12:
Tools are repaired and sharpened,  fences will be mended,  and the planning for the upcoming planting season commences.

(Thank you to Tom Kemper for this wonderful March photograph!)
Manuring could take place in March.  Perhaps plowing and harrowing all the manure into the ground as well before the planting season begins.

SPRING - mid-April: plowing takes place. 
Harrowing does as well.
This is where the main crop will be planted.
This is the end of the winter season so you would most likely be using up things in the root cellar.
In the meat category,  Ham would be very appropriate since it is getting warmer and whatever is left in the smokehouse isn't likely to keep much longer.  (I personally suspect that's how Ham for Easter got to be so popular).  If you are willing to be a bit more adventuresome there is also lamb and veal  (newborn animals that didn't make it were not wasted).  Fresh beef maybe but most likely there wouldn't be any left.  Salted beef would be much more likely.
For vegetables,  you would have the last of the potatoes,  winter squash,  carrots,  onions,  dried beans,  and perhaps fresh asparagus if you grew it.
There would also be fresh lettuce especially if you had cold frames or hot frames to grow them in. 
Pickled items of all sorts would be on the pantry shelves,  cucumber pickles,  watermelon rind pickles,  sauerkraut,  pickled peppers,  pickled onions etc…
For fruit you would have jellys,  jams,  and the last of your cellar apples.  Raisins would be around,  but they would have been imported.  I can't find evidence that grapes were grown in Michigan during the Civil War,  but if anyone has information to the contrary I'd be delighted to see it.
As a side note…this is what you plant in April in Michigan…onions,  potatoes,  peas,  lettuce,  leeks,  cabbage.  If you plan your breeding your sow is farrowing and you have piglets to raise.  If one doesn't make it you have sucking pig to eat for Sunday.

SPRING - May: 
The corn is just beginning to peak out of the ground if there was a warm spell in
April and you could plant early enough...and no frost hit.
In May you would have eggs,  (the chickens are laying again HURRAY).  You would also start to see radishes,  more lettuce,  and new peas perhaps.
May is when the main garden goes in.  You plant tomatoes and peppers and beans and corn and squash and pumpkin and melon and cucumbers and whatever else your little heart desires to put into the ground.  New chicks are being born about now.

Late Spring-Early Summer - mid-June: 
Everything is looking fresh and coming up  "rosey".
June is when strawberries are in season.  Your meat poultry is coming along nicely,  but they aren't quite big enough to eat yet.  But the laying hens are going gang busters and the cow is giving lots of milk  (or the goats).  You are still eating lettuce and radishes.  This is a great salad month.
By this time your sheep would have been sheered,  and the wool taken in to be washed and carded for spinning…as Henry Ford did with his father to the Gunsolly Carding Mill.   You also plant your cabbage and peas for the fall garden about now.

SUMMER - July: 
the corn is looking good.
The peas are getting ripe.  You have new potatoes  (which are very small).  Blueberries are in season.  You might get some cabbage out now,  and the Broccoli is ready to eat.  You have some meat chickens  (born last fall)  that are big enough to eat,  so you start butchering them one or two at a time as you want one for dinner.  Early raspberries are in now too.  It's too hot for the lettuce to be doing well,  so it's rather scarce.

LATE SUMMER - late August---early September: 
the corn is ready for harvesting
You are starting to get beans.  A melon or two is ripened,  and if you planted short season corn it should be coming in towards the end of the month.  More potatoes,  these are larger,  especially if you planted midseason varieties.  Tomatoes and Peppers are starting to come in and they pretty much overwhelm you at the end of the month.  Peas are in completely and they start to wane early in August.  The pigs are growing nicely and you are getting really tired of poultry and salted beef and pork.  However,  the fish are biting and fresh fish can be had whenever someone has the time to go catch some.  You can harvest onions now,  too,  or you can leave them growing until cold weather.

Early Fall - Late September: 
Harvest time
This is when EVERYTHING is coming in.  You put things down cellar and dehydrate a lot of things in the sun,  and if you know how and have the jars you put things up in those fancy new mason jars,  which requires HOURS of boiling for some things. 
Apples are starting to ripen and so are the peaches.  Lots of pie right about now.

FALL - mid-October: 
the corn shocks are now standing, curing.
The garden season is finally starting to wind down.  You still have beans and late ripening squash,  but pretty much everything else is put up for the winter.  Apple harvest is in full swing although you probably have all the peaches dried or made into jam already.  The pumpkins are finishing up as is the squash.  Your late corn is ready to pick and your potatoes are ready to dig up…hurry and do this last before the ground freezes.  You have fresh apples and dried apples and apple cider.

LATE FALL - The fields of November: 
all the leaves are brown and the sky is gray.
Butchering time is usually around the third week of the month.  Those cute little piglets from spring are nasty tempered ugly hogs and you are glad to see the last of them;  although processing one pig takes three days if you have lots of help in the kitchen.  You also butcher your beef at this time,  and the deer hunters go out to get some venison.

Up to this point,  this was perhaps the longest it ever took me to write a post!
But it was fun - - I still need to get a December picture!
Anyhow,  thanks for stopping in - - -

Until next time,  see you in time.  

~   ~   ~


Robin's Egg Bleu said...

I really appreciate the work you do here. It's so wonderful to wake up and see something so beautiful and peaceful today after a day like yesterday.

Unknown said...

Awesome blog post and photos. I have attempted to do the same thing with OSV, and since they are open year-round, I have been quite successful capturing all four seasons in their beauty and splendor.

Gina @ VictorianWannaBe said...

Hi Ken,
What a great idea! I love seeing all the seasons with the same house on the same post. It reminds me of a near by Amish community. Gina

Betsy said...

Beautiful photos! Nebraska has the same weather/seasons, except right now we're expecting snow tomorrow, heh. It's been a strange spring.

Historical Ken said...

Thank you everyone for the kind words here.
It took me a year to complete this posting - diligence pays off!

Cathy said...

I love seeing the seasons on your beautiful farm. There is a painter in our area who has painted his grandmothers farm in all four seasons. I bought the prints and change them out each season with my seasonal decor.

Kit1934 said...

What a fantastic post- so interesting to see how the landscape changes.

JSD said...

Thanks for all the work...this is a wonderful post.