Garden Diary - December 2019

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Christmas On the Howell Living History Farm
Saturday, 7 December 2019

I've been looking forward to this, the last Howell Living History Farm event of 2019. There won't be another until the last Saturday of January 2020 when, if the winter is cold enough, there will be an ice harvest on the pond.

Christmas on the farm is the most popular of all
the year's happenings, with lots to see and do.

As soon as I park and head for the visitors center
I see the Case steam traction engine, building up
a head of steam as the fire box heats up the water.

I walk up to the farmyard and the big red barns. Split firewood tumbled on the ground.
It's a good day - temperatures not too cold, a bit of a breeze. After all, it is December.

There's a shed area with firewood and kindling for the Glenwood cook stove.

There's a mallet, sturdy pins and rope that will be needed later. You'll see.

Bill and Jessie pull the buckboard with the Christmas tree up to the farmhouse.
They have bells on their harness, making a tender tinkling music as they go.

It takes just a few minutes to stand the tree on the front lawn. Pins driven
deep, sturdy rope, and the tree is upright, secured, ready to be decorated.

Howell farm grows field corn. It dries, standing in the field. First the ears are husked,
then the kernals rubbed off the cob, to be used for animal feed, corn meal, popcorn.

Activities for the whole family. They're building a fire to pop the corn. You can eat it, or
string the popcorn and cranberries on a piece of wire to decorate the tree. At another
table you can smear cooking fat on pinecones, then roll in bird seed, also for the tree.
For a modest fee you can make these natural ornaments to take home to feed birds.

There's yet another work space where anyone can make a door swag with greenery
gathered here on the farm, then decorated with a festive bow, and pine cones too.

There's a door swag in the farmhouse too, celebrating the festive season.

I admired this vignette set up in a cozy nook - a pair of lady's skates dropped
on a rocking chair with ripple knit afgahan over the back, plaid mats, red bows.

A side table in the hall with pinecones, dried fruit, and fragrant bags of sweet sachets.

On the farmhouse kitchen table sits a basket with apples - they were surely
grown around here - and the luxurious treat of oranges and - most exotic -
a pineapple! Fruits we take for everyday granted were quite rare in 1900s.

Christmas tree delivered, Larry and Ryan are walking Bill and Jessie back to the barnyard.

The horses splash through the ford while the men look for stepping stones.

Off in the distance I hear the shrill whistle from the steam traction engine.
Look there! Across the field and behind the trees. Santa Claus is coming!

He's here, along with Mrs. Claus and three elves. They'll meet children in the parlor.

And in the barn the big horses drowse, except for
one who welcomes timid pats from small children

Christmas on the farm.

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