The Carroll County Farm Museum celebrated 50 years in the community and more than 200 years of farming history at its Fall Harvest Days Festival on Saturday.
The event has been held every year since the museum was founded half a century ago. In celebration of the special anniversary, the festival was held free to the public for the first time this year.
The theme of the event this year was Farming: Then and Now, for which volunteers and organizers showed off farming technology and techniques from throughout history to give Carroll visitors a greater appreciation of the ways agriculture has changed over the past two centuries.
Children gathered around John Sies and Ted Peiffer as they showed off how corn was harvested, shucked and threshed in the days before gas-powered machinery. Sies took the children down to a patch of corn and, using a hand scythe, cut stalks down in a single motion. The children had the opportunity to put the ears into the hand-cranked thresher, stripping the kernels from the cob. For those who wanted to relive how children of the era played, corn husk dolls were available as a low-tech toy to take care of.
Across the grounds, Mark Wilhelm took visitors ahead several decades to the late 1800s and early 1900s with a collection of antique gas-powered farm machines. The machines served as corn shellers, corn grinders, meat grinders, apple cider presses, butter churners and more.
"Before these came out, you had to crank these things by hand," Wilhelm said. "When they came out and invented motors and farmers started buying them, and it was a big deal. You had more free time because you had motors doing some of the work for you."
Wilhelm said it can be difficult to keep these antique machines in operating condition for more than 100 years. He said it takes a lot of maintenance to keep them in working order.
Throughout the museum, children had the opportunity to visit with farm animals, such as the goats, Hazel and Sage, peafowl Paul and Polly, and sheep Clover and Daisy. Inside, re-enactors demonstrated various tasks in the historical farmers' life, from tin smithing to heath cooking.
Throughout the day, Donna Jayne was hard at work at a number of baked goods, from sugar cookies to a fresh pie baked in the Dutch oven. Jayne showed off the technique to make a historic, handheld snack, as bakers of the era rolled leftover pie crust in sugar and cinnamon to bake.
Jayne said she used historic recipes gathered in the book "Baking Recipes of Wives and Mothers of Civil War Heroes." She said the sugar cookie recipe used came from Union General John Reynolds' wife, but is almost identical to recipes used today.
In the blacksmith shop, Albin Drzewianowski, of the Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland, showed visitors the methods of smiths from the 1880s. Drzewianowski said back when the shop was active, it was used to make shoes for horses and oxen as well as tools for use around the farm. Since the invention of the automobile, he said, blacksmiths and farriers — those who make and fit horseshoes — split into two different disciplines. While he explained the work, another member of the guild worked on creating a pad hook in the forge of nearly 3,000 degrees.
Some children got to see first-hand what life would have been like for them back in the 1800s as they got a lesson in the Dottie Freeman Historic School House. There, Beverly Humbert discussed the learning of the era and emphasized the various forms of punishment for misbehaving, from having to stand with your nose in a circle on the chalkboard, to a beating with a hickory stick.
Attending the class were Anna and Jamie Fishman, who had brought their grandson Caleb Silverstein to the Fall Harvest Days. Anna said they've been coming to the Farm Museum off and on for years.
"We used to take his mother out to the Fall Harvest Days. He's the second generation to come out and enjoy this with us," Anna said. "We've been to the schoolhouse, and the barn and have loved talking with all of the very interesting people who speak about history."
If you go
What: Fall Harvest Days
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16
Where: Carroll County Farm Museum, 500 S. Center St., Westminster
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For more information: Visit www.carrollcountyfarmmuseum.org or call 410-386-3899.