Heritage Holidays Annual Christmas Concert

Here's hoping you had a very Merry Christmas and the weather cooperated in your part of the world.  Heritage Farm hosted a most joyful singing celebration in the old log church the weekend before Christmas.  This annual concert series is by Cantanti di Festi and benefits Faith In Action which provides free non medical assistance to the eldery and adults with disabilities.  The snow blanketed the farm with cold white crystals but inside the dense log walls we sat in the wooden pews hearing the four merry voices sing Christmas songs from all over the world.  Linda Dobbs, mezzo soprano organized the concert and we give her a huge thank you for her hard work and narration.  She relayed to the audience various traditions of how the children of Germany, Spain, France and even South America celebrated the birth of Jesus.  The other talented voices that mesmorized us were Joan Pappas, soprano, Jeffrey Pappas, tenor, and Robert Wray, baritone while Alanna Cushing played the keyboard and the old pump organ.  Take a listen to 'The Holly and The Ivy', a traditional carol from the British Isles.

Linda formerly lived in Germany during the late 50's and collected German ornaments and decorations.  Joan's ancestors were from Holland and she displayed those darling wooden clogs.  It was really neat seeing the authentic little knick knacks that brought life to the window sills. 

Click on the authentic French Christmas song 'Tour, Louro, Louro'.  It was very entertaining to hear how other countries sing their traditional songs.

A German carol, 'Kommet Irh Hirten' (Come O' You Shephards) sung by Linda Dobbs

An upbeat Spanish carol about the Immaculate Conception and the Nativity of Christ called 'Riu, Riu Chui'.

Tap your toes and listen to Jeffrey Pappas sing solo the Venezuelian 'La Jornada' (The Journey) Christmas song.

The final song was 'Go Tell It On The Mountain' and then the crowd joined in for 'Deck the Halls' and 'God Rest You Merry Gentlemen'.  The concert was such a nice way to celebrate the upcoming holiday and learn about other cultures.  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas filled with joy and happiness.  Have a safe and happy New Year!


Audy's Animal Anecdotes

Audy Perry, the son of the founders of Heritage Farm wanted me to share his collection of short stories that began as simple observations of the daily doings on the farm, some tragic, though some not, but all have been written with the dear Lord in mind and lessons we can learn providing we are teachable.  The following are Audy's words with a tiny bit of editing.
Animals have been an integral part of my life for almost four decades. Growing up on a farm just outside of Huntington, West Virginia, I always loved playing with the dogs, cats, ducks, cows and anything else we could find roaming the hills and splashing in the creeks. When our family farm became Heritage Farm Museum & Village, a farm petting zoo was a great opportunity for me to share my love of animals with children of all ages.
God could have created a world of just plants and humans to tell His story but I believe He provided the gift of animals to teach us about ourselves and our relationship to an almighty, yet loving God. This series will be about my favorite animal insights over the years. Take a look at God through a different set of eyes each day and along the way you may discover a “new you” as you learn about a “new ewe” - the one and only Lamb of God.
Part One...Have you ever purred in God’s lap? The cat is the only animal I know that has an auditory, physical response to contentment - the purr. It is gratifying not only to the feline but also the owner. The other morning I sat down in the zoo during feeding time and Charky (9 month old grey & white kitty I rescued from the pound) jumped up on my lap, got comfy and immediately began to purr - he was safe in the lap of his master. Like Charky - each day we have a choice, we can choose to chase sparkly objects or little pieces of string which is fun for awhile but soon become tiresome and pointless or we can choose to be content in the lap of our Master. What will you choose today?
Way to go Audy!  How timely this lesson is during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season with so many of us trying to 'keep up' with all of our purchases and trying to please everyone around us.  Perhaps if we simplify we will be pleasing ourselves and our Lord and contentment with who we are and what we have will fulfill our lives. 


Christmas Time Pickin' and Singin'

What masterful musicians!  It was such a treat to relax and become transformed back in time to the simpler days of yesteryear.  Take a listen for yourself to "Come all Ye Fair and Tender Maidens".

This version of the old song was written by Jean Ritchie.  Ritchie is from eastern Kentucky and was raised as an Old Regular Baptist in eastern Kentucky, (alot like my husband's upbringing).  She has risen to the top of the folk music genre and is nicknamed 'Mother Folk'.  I found it to be a haunting ballad with sad undertones and so worth your click.  She customizes the second stanza but I cannot find her lyrics online.  Charlie Bowen's voice is incredible and he certainly does justice to this folk song.
Robin Kessinger, Joe Dobbs, Adam Hager and Charlie Bowen shared their talents on the cold blustery day at the farm.
Robin Kessinger, national award winning 'flatpicker'.
Adam Hager, recently won the 2010 Guitar contest at the Robin Kessinger Festival.
Charlie Bowen, member of the band 1937 Flood and long time local musician.
Brrrr, the snow was falling fast and it was time to go home and drink some hot chocolate.  A warm thank you to the fabulous four who so kindly filled our ears with a couple of hours of pure Appalachian musical bliss.


Christmas Appalachian Concert This Saturday!

Heritage Farm Museum begins the Christmas season by hosting their first Way Back Weekend concert on Saturday, December 4, 2010 from 1-3pm. West Virginia musicians Robin Kessinger, Adam Hager, Joe Dobbs and Charlie Bowen will perform in the cozy confines of the old log Church. Reservations are recommended, so please call  304.522.1244. We will continue to have our guided Farm tours that day which are available from 10am to 1pm.  Regular admission fees apply.  Pictures and details will be shared with you next week.  This is going to be spectacular!


The Secret Path to the Dairy Barn

The road to the dairy barn is close to the house and the dairy barn is quite easy to find.  So what’s the secret?  Life is full of paths we must follow. Some trails wind around for a bit, while others take years to find since timing is key and in the end most paths lead to a place of great fulfillment.  Sometimes while on a path, one hasn’t a clue they are even on an important venture that will affect their lives.  Some aren’t aware of which turns should be taken and a gentle nudge is all it that is needed to keep them going.  Although the dairy barn is very close by, it has become quite clear now that it has a path that must be followed.  But it remains a secret path…
Two men, one that just happens to be following in the other’s footsteps, recently made a lengthy 500 mile road trip together down to Georgia;  Rome, Georgia to be exact.  The father and son duo had a conference to attend and it was the father who would be giving the keynote address to a large group of attendees.  Most folks turn on a radio, while the other reads a magazine, or both might chit chat about newsworthy events, but not these two.  The future of Heritage Farm dominated their keen minds and the 7 ½ hour trip produced a detailed five page to-do list regarding improvements for the farm.  So engrossed in their discussions they later realized the radio wasn’t turned on one time.  One such large project that made for good conversation was the dairy barn.  Such a vast structure… and it was just sitting there with nothing much to do but give cover for collections of antiques and house those who attended the artisan classes.  Something seemed unfitting.  Both men agreed that the dairy barn is unfulfilled and underused.      

The Appalachian Regional Commission hosts a fall conference each year and Mike Perry was given the honor to share his views regarding the importance of installing pride in today’s youth. He also spoke of his own educational experiences in West Virginia. The underlying theme of the Heritage Farm was always “learn from the past, appreciate today, and dream for the future” which coincides perfectly with Mike’s topic.  Perry along with his wife Henriella, were honored by being the 2010 recipients of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s LDD Humanitarian Award, the third such award ever given with Bob Evans being the first.  In preparation for the talk, the organizer questioned him if he was using the popular Power Point, a program that shows visual aids while the speaker offers explanations.  A little befuddled, Mike declined and told them he would be speaking ‘off the cuff” for the duration of 40 minutes.  He was very surprised at the length allotted for his speech and jokingly reminded everyone that ‘his preacher doesn’t even get that much time’ nor did the Governor of Georgia, who spoke for about ten minutes prior to Mike.   

All went well and afterwards a meet and greet occurred.  The pair was approached by a woman who urgently told them they would be remiss if a visit to a local college with the largest campus (in terms of acreage) in the U.S. was not made.  Isn’t Cal Poly Tech with 9700 acres the largest? Nope, not even close, Berry College owns 26,000 acres!  (In case you wanted to know, the second largest campus, is U.S. Air Force Academy with 18,000 acres). Berry College?  The father and son listened politely keeping their mind’s open hoping the line of conversation would lead them to a worthy connection and it certainly did! 

The college had once been a tiny school. A little cabin surrounded by woods, was where Martha Berry as a youngster had met some uneducated children who lacked in adequate food and clothing.  Martha Berry was the daughter of a wealthy cotton plantation owner and could not bear to see such suffering so she began a school.  Given the gift of determination and strong tenacity she was able to solicit generous funding throughout her life to grow this amazing campus.   She even secured financial donations from Henry Ford by turning a few peanuts into several bags, but that is a whole other story you can learn for yourself.  The Appalachian roots of this school intrigued the Perry’s so they ventured onto a new path that lead them to tour the campus of this amazing college.  What did they see?  One of the most memorable visions where the structures that the students themselves had built to grow their campus.  Berry College was a prime example of young people who had shown pride in their Appalachian culture.  How fitting that Mike just finished speaking about this very subject!

Another gentle suggestion was given nudging them in a slightly different direction though still on campus leading them down the path towards the amazing WinShape Center.  Acres of pristine settings surrounded them from all angles but in front a group of white washed buildings with red tiled roofs greeted them.  What is WinShape, why is it here on this campus and why should they tour the area?  All of these penetrating questions darted back and forth in their minds.  They would soon learn that a man who had visited their beloved Heritage Farm, enjoyed a celebration dinner in Heritage Hall and who had walked the very grounds of Heritage Village is the son of the founder of this spectacular complex - Dan Cathy, son of Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A.  When Chick-fil-A opened a new store near the local mall, the opening celebration dinner was held at Heritage Farm.
While the Perry’s walked around, they found the place to be empty.  There was not a soul to be seen except for one student. It seemed their timing was off.  Thankfully the student was helpful and found someone to give them a tour.  Bob, the Director of the WinShape Centre, was still working and offered to show Mike and Audy the grounds of this great project.  Perhaps the timing was just perfect after all and this is exactly where they should be, doing what is needed in order to prepare  them for their next path, only they certainly were not thinking of paths then.  The buildings and grounds were breathtaking, but one humongous white structure with several pointed roof tops dominated the campus. What could it be?  Bob explained that the Normandy inspired complex is where the WinShape marriage retreats were held.  (WinShape also houses long term foster children, and summer camps for almost 2000 kids).  But it was his simple description about the building put the entire trip into focus.  For 70 years it was one of the top leading dairies in Georgia.  It was an old dairy barn!
The real road to the Heritage Farm dairy barn is quite short but the path that will elevate it to new life is waiting to be found, still winding around and changing directions but ideas are being formed and plans will be developed.  But, until something has been decided, there will continue to be a secret path to the dairy barn!

(Be sure to click on the links to learn more about these wonderful institutions and the good people who founded them!)


The Veterans of Apple Butter

WV Veterans...Sam McClure, Allan Meek, Jack Jeffrey, Walter Sansom, Bob Smith, Norm Alred, John Mullins, Jimmy Robinson, Pete Jones, Bob Steele
Hours before dawn, a group of 'veterans' gathered at the farm.  Some began to sanitize four robust 50 gallon copper kettles with a vinegar wash while others neatly placed fire bricks in four separate large squares on top of the cement slab.  The chopped wood was already stacked and stored under the old dairy barn's overhang.   The applesauce and sugar knew their places on tables next to wall.  The oil of cinnamon bottles, though small in comparison to the other supplies were waiting to pack their punch in the afternoon.  What in the world is going on and why are people of sound minds braving the 30 degree weather in the dark?  Veterans?  This isn't a war memorial though it was Veterans Day...
I was casually invited the day before to join the New Baptist Church members while they made apple butter!  These gifted souls had done this for years and were veterans in their own right.  And to top it off, many of the members were indeed true Veterans!  What a treasure it was to meet these brave men who sacrificed for our country!  What an honor it was to meet their wives who supported them with unwavering love fueling their loved one's brave hearts while they protected our freedoms.  Thank you is not enough nor would be the words that I could ever type...
I never watched this process before so my brain was trying to soak it all in.  How come they used applesauce instead of apples? I am always asking questions, unafraid of how silly they might seem.  In the old days everyone used apples but due to time constraints and the laborious task of pealing and coring, applesauce is much easier.  A whopping 239 gallons was purchased. Wow! 

The fires were lit, the kettles were cleaned and the applesauce was dumped into the hot pots.  The first step takes about 5 hours of boiling and constant stirring with long wooden tools some lighter with wooden handles, others a bit longer and heavier with metal handles.  The orange liquid gurgled and popped and steamed and smoked, and I smelled awful. I did try my hand at stirring and the angry bubbles were like a tide, they rose out of nowhere and seemed to enjoy spitting at me so with defiance I dragged the wooden tool causing those persistent orange air pockets to disappear for a brief second.  They had a gift for multiplying!
After the sugar is added, the apple butter darkens.
Soon it was time to sweeten things up a bit and 90 pounds of Domino's best was poured into the first kettle.  Knowing when to add the sugar depends upon the texture of the applesauce and Peggy (the pro) knew exactly what to do.  Another two hours of boiling was required before the oil of cinnamon could be added. 

Everyone looks forward to the end of the process, not because they have stood and stirred all day but because it is great fun to watch the ladies ladle and what comes afterwards.  Once the glass jars are filled and sealed and the pot is emptied, the long awaited pan of home-made warm biscuits are served!  No double dipping mind you but it is customary to dip your biscuit on the sides and scrape the delicious leftovers.  Now that was good!

I must say a kind word about the baker of the biscuits who does have a real name!  Mary McClure, the local Pumpkin Queen, captures the coveted title year after year during the Pumpkin Festival held in Milton, WV.  Beautiful Mary has graced a page of a national magazine and one of my favorites to boot.  Southern Living!  She was featured in the October 2005 issue around page 108.  My husband will not be happy tomorrow while I scatter my numerous saved editions on the living room floor searching for Mary's article.  Her pumpkin recipes are fantastic and her pumpkin corn chowder is currently featured online and can be found in the Department of Agriculture's Market Bulletin. 
Wagon rides were given throughout the day with Audy Perry leading the way.

Besides the veterans, along with Peggy and Mary, everyone was so nice and kind.  But  there was one individual that really brightened my day.  After taking the group photo of the veterans, Pete Jones pointed at his friend who had a ring of very fine copper wire held in his hand.  This sweet man was appreciative of my photography efforts of his compatriots and wanted to give me something.  Really?  I couldn't wait.  I had to run to the car and get another pen and when I came back, I was given a beautiful angel!  Then I got an airplane with a movable propeller!  And then a little bear!  (Jimmie's nickname  is Teddy Bear).  And then there was no more wire, the ring around his wrist was gone.  Thank you Jimmy Robinson!  You are the one who is an angel and your copper creations will always be displayed in our home reminding me of the kind words you whispered about what the angel represents. 

Guess how many pints of apple butter was made today?  200?  500?  900?  Nope, a whopping 1009 pints would not be possible had it not been for everyone helping, stirring, carrying, filling, sealing and cleaning.  The members of the New Baptist Church that I met today are a fine group of people who's varied talents all contributed in the making of the delicious apple butter.
The afternoon began to cast its first cool shadows hinting that the day has only a couple more hours till dusk.   It was time to leave.  Someone was hosing out a kettle, metal shovels were scraping the hot ashes from the fire brick and cars began to pull out of the farm.  I now know how to make apple butter but I certainly am no veteran, that is for sure.  I was invited to come back next year and I just might do that...Happy Veterans Day and to the members of New Baptist Church, thank you for making me feel at home and comfortable.  Heritage Farm is truly a wonderful place filled with good people and if you time it right, good apple butter!


Mosaic Monday...Old, Gold, and Antique

Mosaic Mondays are such a neat visual gift that bloggers share with each other to show breathtaking images of whatever suits their fancy.  Mary over at Little Red House the 'author' of this wonderful idea allows participants to link to her site.  What a perfect way to get ideas as other folks can be so inspiring.   Be sure to hop over there and grab some inspiration for yourself!

Heritage Farm is all about things being old...old machines, old remedies, old furnishings, old buildings, and even some turtles that live to a ripe old age!  Happy Monday and have a great week!


Nosing Around

I love to explore old houses and antique shops.  I used to nose around in my mother's drawers where she tucked away aged photos, momentos, and all sorts of things a child might rip or tear or worse yet, misplace! For a few minutes I was priveleged to peer around the Old Village Shop and boy is this the place for nosy people like me!  Words like Female Weakness, Lard, Boilfast, etc. are so foreign to our current speech habits and political correctness.  Female Weakness?  Oh no!!! 

All sorts of goodies attracted my eyes and I was in sensory overload!  The Old Village Shop is what you would find in an old country store.  Medicines, dry goods, canned goods, tools, clothing and even examples of old washing machines and vacuum cleaners are housed in the spacious log structure complete with wooden floors just like the old days.  I thought you might like to see what caught my eye....and this is only a small sampling!  You have to come and see for yourself!  These items or similar ones were most likely used by your grandparents and their relatives.

You will love the unique items and large collections that quietly sit and wait for your visual inspection.  My favorites were the apothecary shop.  How quaint but so very detailed were the labels on the old bottles that still carried the residue of promised cures.  I would love to know the ingredients of these magical elixirs, wouldn't you?

If you are a fashionista then check out the next couple of pics. Oooh, that black bathing suit is so very alluring!  Look at the kiddy shoes!  So sweet!

And finally something none of us can escape doing even today though women were stuck with this chore decades least the old scrub board was becoming a thing of the past.  Check out the washing machine! Now that is neat!  I hope you enjoyed my nosing around!  I can't wait to browse around in other buildings to see what I can find!