A Blacksmith, A Cowboy, and A Couple Farmers

Last weekend my hubby had a day off and it was slated to be very, very hot. We weighed our options as to what we might do with the time and finally landed on visiting Old World Wisconsin. We figured it wouldn’t be too crowded so it would be a good day for it. We wouldn’t be rushed and could take our time and enjoy the experience. Last year at about this same time, the kids and I visited with a good friend and her daughter (I wrote about it here) and had a great time. My hubby hadn’t been though and with our school year start close at hand, we thought it would be a fun field trip for the kids.

Old World Wisconsin is set up in little ‘villages’, that highlight the different ethnic groups that settled in the state in the 1800s. I think its fascinating to see how different ethnicities solved the same problems of settling in a new place in their own way.

You get to see authentic houses…

img_3961And gardens…

img_3962And there are period games to try out…


And they learned to practice penmanship with a fountain pen…

img_3974Her first sentence read something like, “My mom is amazing!” I love this kid so much.

The kids tried out these crazy bicycles…

img_3957This mom is so glad today’s bikes are… um…

img_3956Closer to the ground.

You might not be surprised to hear that while riding the trolley back to lunch I forced an unplanned stop at this farmstead.

img_4012I saw the sheep and practically leaped from the moving vehicle.

Lo and behold, this exhibit had spinning wheels.

img_2678 As the docent explained picking and carding and demonstrating spinning on this replica wheel, my daughter listened politely and only said once and in a very nice way, “I know. My mom does this at home.” I secretly hoped the lady in charge would let me spin a little, but no such luck.

img_3969She did, however, let my girl have a treadle at this Ashford Traditional that they have “because they can get parts for it easily.” Apparently not every child has it drilled into their head that a spinning wheel is precious, precious item that is never to be manhandled. My daughter was excited to treadle…

img_4008But she left Old World Wisconsin wanting to be a blacksmith. I’m good with that. I would gladly learn alongside her.

After lunch we had an ice cream treat and our girl talked us into having a look around the gift shop. Each kid picked out a craft to work on during the school year and I found… can you guess?

img_4007 I looked for fiber, but all they had was yarn. I’m good with that. It’s spun from the wool from the very sheep pictured earlier in the field. That’s pretty fantastic. I’m planning a hat for this winter. Something with pretty stitch patterning will be lovely, especially cables. I’ve flirted with the idea of attempting some natural dyeing with it, but I think I’ll most likely leave it as its. It is awfully beautiful.

As we strolled the paths of these old farmsteads, the kids ran ahead and my hubby mentioned how happy he would be in this type of setting. Simplicity. Nature. Basics. Not even the lack of running water phases him a bit. Personally, I like my running water, but I’m not sure that I’d mind so much if my reality was just that I didn’t have it. We walked along and talked about what we would do if we lived in a time like this. My hubby thinks he’d be a cowboy (his boyhood dream) or lawman. I’m guessing I’d have a little farm with a big garden and sheep so I’d have to spin and knit or weave. The kids, they’d probably not be all that different either — we’re lucky that way. I could see my daughter tending horses and maybe attempting to break some gender barriers as a blacksmith.  My son, I would guess, would be happy as a farmer with a little family of his own.

We may live in the 21st century. We may enjoy our creature comforts like everyone else. Days like this, though, we’re reminded that in our hearts, the things that make us happy are very simple. In this life, we may be a couple kids with the world at their feet and their mom & dad who find a way to make it all work in a hectic world. In another life, we may just have been a blacksmith, a cowboy, and a couple farmers. Oh, what a difference 150years makes.

14 thoughts on “A Blacksmith, A Cowboy, and A Couple Farmers”

  1. Yes, 150 years makes a difference in some ways, but others, not so much. I’d LOVE living out there, except for that little part about no electricity, running water, plumbing… Oh THAT. When I was a child, we would visit our cousins in the country. They had an outdoor toilet, a pump to get water, and we slept under feather ‘beds’ that my aunt had stuffed and made herself from feathers off their own farm. I thought it was Heaven. Glad your kids had a blast and are learning those great ‘old’ skills and values. LOVED the post!

    1. I grew up in the country although not so rustic. Now we live in town and while there are definitely benefits to being able to walk to the library and grocery store, there are things I miss about living in the country. There are always trade-offs. I’m glad I can give my kids a glimpse into many different ways of life so they can find the one that suits them. πŸ™‚

  2. Amen! We live in an age where everything is so easy to come by. It’s great to show our kids how our ancestors had to work so hard for what they got. Enjoy playing with your new yarn : )

    1. We are indeed very lucky. I’m glad to be able to teach our kids the value of hard work and to appreciate the conveniences of modern life. We talked a lot about the trade-offs we’ve made in the modern day, too. An interesting conversation to have with kids!

  3. Oh how fun. I would love that. I live watching those pbs shows pioneers and 1800 house but those lives are so hard i doubt we’d get to knit as much as we would like. Still it’s something to imagine. Thanks

    1. I think so much would be different. I’m sure there would be less knitting and more variety — gardening, preserving, mending, etc. I like to think I’d find joy in that, too!

  4. Just returned to Maine from Wisconsin where there was limited internet. No keeping up on blogs. This morning I have been catching up and so enjoyed this post. I went to college at Whitewater, and while there, one of my wonderful professors got me a summer job at Old World Wisconsin! It has been many years now since that time; the museum was in its infancy, but I worked at a Finnish house and the schoolhouse. I fondly remember walking out to the sites with my fellow pioneers for a day of baking bread or teaching school. I even posed–horribly incorrectly, I’m sure, for a postcard where I sharpened a knife at a grinding stone, barefoot!!!
    Thanks for taking me down memory lane; I will really look forward to seeing what you do with your yarn.

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