Earlier this year, I was a chaperone for Medha's class on a field trip to the Four Mile Historic Park in Denver. It is named thus because it is four miles from downtown Denver.
Built in 1859, Four Mile House once served as a stage stop, wayside inn, and tavern for travelers on the Cherokee Trail on their way to Denver City.
We chose the pioneer sampler with the following activities: butter making, farm chores, pioneer games, prairie school and gold panning. Chaperones were assigned to each of the stations that had been set up all over the 12 acre park and my station, as you know, was the outdoor kitchen where we made sweet cream butter.
Most of the older homes had fully-equipped outdoor kitchens as the stoves were usually wood-burning stoves, making it unbearable to cook indoors in the summer heat. Quite frankly, even the outdoor kitchen was unbearable. We were there at the end of April with temperatures in the low 80s, without the stove on, and we couldn't wait to get into the shade!
There were a lot of cast-iron kitchen tools displayed in the outdoor kitchen that were probably forged on the farm itself. Like these tongs...
and this ladle...
and this gong! The kids had a great time 'calling everyone for dinner!'
This is an original butter churner that was used in those days to make butter. We were so busy in the outdoor kitchen that I did not get a chance to take a picture of the inside of the butter churner. The wooden shaft had an X-shaped stomper at the end that agitated the cream when it was moved up and down. We did not use this antique butter churner and instead made sweet cream butter in a jar.
It was a day of immense learning for all of us. Me, most of all, because I also learned that the homes that have sunk into the ground leaving only the roof are built like that by design. They aren't homes! They are root cellars!
I have vowed to go back to the Four Mile Historic Park again because I missed out on the other activities. Before leaving though, I took one last picture of an old wagon, a replica of the wagons used by the pioneers as they burnt the trail on their search for gold and riches.
Life on a farm in the early 1900s was very hard! We came away very grateful for all the amenities we have in our homes today, especially running water, electricity and heating. If you have an old working farm in your area, keep it in mind for a day trip as it is an eye-opener, both for kids as well as adults.
Other old-fashioned working farms we have visited in the past year are:
Walker Ranch, Boulder, Colorado
Ardenwood Historic Farm, Fremont, California
Have you been to a historic farm and learned something new? Do consider sharing your experience with the rest of us!