Summer at the Freeman Farm

I have always been what my mama called ‘an old timey girl.’ Something about days long gone by has just always captured my imagination– from the first chapter book I ever read on my own (Hitty: Her First Hundred Years) to forays into the Little House books and all the Anne of Green Gables stories.

It’s no wonder then– in my love of history, old places and spaces– that I have a love for Living History museums, like Old Sturbridge Village. Within this large, village-sized Living History museum in Sturbridge, MA. there’s a working farm called the Freeman Farm. Originally built around 1815 by farmer Pliny Freeman, it is is a working farm, where OSV staff and volunteers bring carry out living in the 1830’s on a daily basis. The whole place is wonderful, and authentic (even down to the flies in the kitchen which, really, isnt that wonderful, but it sure is authentic!) and an amazing place.

The last time we visited, we were touring the home when the family had just sat down to dinner. That day, the men had been working with the animals, the younger girls had been out working in the garden, and the older women had been preparing the afternoon meal.

Inside the home it is decorated and set up as it would have looked in the 1830s. The bedrooms, filled with quilts on beds, chairs and books on the little side table, children’s toys left about and shawl laid across a chair back…. It is one thing to imagine these spaces from lifetimes gone by, and quite another to see them real right before your eyes. It makes my heart ache a little from happiness. It is, for those kindred spirits who love the ‘olden days’,….a feeling like returning to a precious place we miss, but have never been.

And while I know there is no real ‘going back to the olden days’….and that things then were quite far from perfect, and there was much that needed to be improved— there was a long way to go when it came to freedom and equality for all, there was a long way to go when it came to health and hygiene, and also a lot of great inventions to be made that makes our quality of life much more livable– there is also so much worth appreciating;

Appreciation of slow, quiet work….making and creating with our own hands….eating real and homegrown food….not letting the outside world inundate and overwhelm….creating community and caring for our neighbors and friends….these are all timeless ideas that still have so much value, and are ‘real’ things that improve our lives.

These last two photos are from two years prior to the other photos, and they were repainting the house from dark gray to red.

Looking through these photos now…it makes my heart happy. Sometimes this work feels too busy, too frantic. We are…bombarded. Often I find myself feeling helpless and heartsick. These snapshots from the Freeman Farm, and my memories of being there, offer me a bit of quiet solace. A reminder to me to take a deep breath and remember what matters in my life, and what I can control in it. I can feed my family, I can tend my garden. I can create things, and embrace a slower, gentler lifestyle. I can still be informed and still care about the world around me— but I can also strive to find balance. And that is why my love of Old Ways is all about.

It is my hope that these snippets and snapshots have offered you a similar respite, and hope for a gentler, slower world as well.

If you’d like to read more about my adventures in New England, I invite you to take a peek at a blog series I started last summer called Summer in New England. It appears now that I’m continuing it! I look forward to sharing more homespun adventures with you soon….

6 thoughts on “Summer at the Freeman Farm

  1. I am a kindred Pilgrim along a similar path in 2019. You are correct that while much has been gained through time, much has also been lost. Convenience and important discoveries cannot been tossed away, but the humanity of progress often lags far behind. As the whirlwind of technology rapidly hurls our planet forward, the task of keeping old ways, that are worth hanging on to, that much harder to grasp and maintain. We really have to work at keeping life simpler, more friendly, less consumer oriented, and more appreciative of the gifts each day brings. But….it is work, and often lonely work in the busy frenzy of work, kids, everyday repetitive tasks, and a constant barrage of news and daily disasters. Our world feels so complicated to me. I wonder if the early settlers felt the same?

    These photos from The Freeman Farm are wonderful. Living history museums are truly a gift that helps us learn and remember the sources of our own beginnings here in the US in the 1600s. I wonder what life would be like to live for a week on this farm as it was lived when established? I love those long full aprons that were worn over their dresses!!! The mixture of colors and prints are beautiful in their simplicity.

    I went to your link about the NE Summer last night on your sidebar, and enjoyed seeing the photos again. I remember when you were posting them in real time and they were all so captivating!

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    1. You know I feel just the same! Strangely, it feels like so much work to live simply, doesnt it? To protect ourselves from the constant onslaught…..but I think our souls need it. We need calm, repetitive tasks as well…which is why I love knitting and spinning and painting. They calm me and dare I say– improve me! No one wants a mama in an anxious tizzy!

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  2. Argh I tried to comment but it said I couldn’t because I don’t have a wordpress account. DRAT. I thought I had commented on the last one by just putting my name and email address in. ? ________________________________

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  3. What a marvelous place…I always find living history museums to be so humbling. We have a Medieval living history village in our neck of the woods, and I never fail to come away feeling inspired to dig in deeper. I tend to think that part of what makes these old ways so challenging for us modern folk (besides the diminishing knowledge & familiarity over the years) is distraction – I feel like it’s much easier to be distracted nowadays, so our time isn’t used as wisely or efficiently as it was for our ancestors.

    I really like your point recognizing that so much has improved over time, from medical care to freedom, but that the improvements don’t dismiss the other aspects of these historical periods…we have so much to learn from every era. I think it was Emerson who said something about the shift from the sundial to the watch for time-telling, and how with every innovation something else is sacrificed – I think of that a lot when it comes to our modern conveniences. I’m so grateful for them…for the ability to get in my car and drive to the store to get milk, to get on a plane and fly almost anywhere…but with the conveniences, we’ve lost a lot of soul-building skills and mindsets. I aim toward the notion of holding both side by side – both the innovations I’m grateful for, and the ways of our forebears – but, like everything, it’s a process. 😉 Places like Freeman Farm help us keep some of these issues in balance, I think!

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    1. Thank you so much for these wonderful thoughts…and especially about the Emmerson quote. I think it is so true….its almost hard to imagine life even as it was when we were teenagers (no constant phone?!?!) but I think an intentional life is always worth striving for!

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