The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Historic Fairview, Abingdon, Virginia

Old-fashioned thresher

Belts and gearsKayla and I took in the antique tractor show at Fairview in Abingdon Friday. It was another perfect girl's day out, with an extremely well-behaved baby, fascinating old implements (like this thresher --- look at all those belts!), and quite a bit of historical education as a bonus.

Growing flax

OuthouseThe interpretive signs were top-notch, full of information I'd never considered. For example, did you know that the crescent moon traditionally shown on an outhouse was meant to designate the lady's room? Way back when the average American couldn't read, stars were for guys and moons for girls...but men's outhouses tended to get run down and didn't last. Thus the crescent-moon-marked outhouses dominating the colonial landscape.

And speaking of outhouse traditions, hollyhocks were usually planted around the outhouse as a way to draw the attention without forcing a lady to request directions to the necessary. Lamb's ears with their silvery ears did the same job at night (while also providing backup toilet paper).

Oh, and the other picture in this section is flax. I was proud of myself for guessing its identity...and Kayla was proud of herself for capturing the plant matter before it made it into baby D.'s gaping mouth.

Organic dyes

Plant dyesIn the air-conditioned comfort of the interpretive log house, we took in several beautiful displays pertaining to history and crafts. On the history front, I was intrigued to learn that I-81 (the big highway that runs through our region) began as a buffalo trail but soon became a major thoroughfare between Philadelphia and the Frontier.

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the so-called Great Philadelphia Road was used for wagon trains of settlers (many from Europe) moving to new land and also for people from our region driving their sheep, pigs, and cattle to market in the City of Brotherly Love. Can  you imagine making that 500-mile trek at the tail end of a herd of swine?

Percheron horse

Pig overallsThe upshot? Best girl's day out yet! Think we can top this in August, Kayla?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Sounds like you had a wonderful outing despite the 93 degree weather.

If you are really into historic sites, I strongly suggest you go down to the other side of Knoxville and visit the Museum of Appalachia. Wonderful old log buildings, interpreters, and various implements of daily life in the 1800s. There are also sometimes banjo players sitting on the porches of some of the buildings playing tunes! Wonderful site.

Comment by Nayan Sat Jul 23 09:06:18 2016
Oh the days before safety guards! All those exposed belts and pulleys! My dad as a teen worked a summer as the "sacker" on a much larger thresher of his uncles, as in that day all the young men were off fighting WWII. He would have one sack filling as he tied the other shut (there was a "Y" in the discharge pipe) and throw the full sack which was between 60 and 90 lbs on a waiting wagon. Repeat all hot afternoon with the heat and dust and noise.
Comment by Eric Sun Jul 24 18:57:54 2016
not sure if we can top it but i know we will have fun trying! Just remind me to take sunscreen lol
Comment by kayla Sun Jul 24 20:59:41 2016
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