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Monday, October 29, 2012

Field trip!

Bad news: I was not invited on FarmWife's field trip, which took place in Alexandria, Virginia at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate a couple of weeks ago.

Good news: FarmWife got to go (she was the organizer, of course she got to!) and she brought back photos and stories.

FarmWife quizzed her tour guide, a knowledgable and amenable fellow, on his understanding of George Washington's mule-breeding exploits. She was delighted to hear that he knew all about our first president's prominence as an early supporter of the mule, that he knew of the jack Royal Gift (a present to Washington from the King of Spain, and one of this continent's first good mule sires), and that even today mules and donkeys are kept near Mount Vernon Estate and brought back for demonstrations and for farm work in the spring. They were offsite at the time of FarmWife's visit, so she contented herself with visiting some steers and sheep.

FarmWife loved the livestock, but she was really there for the timber frames. She thought the buildings, both original and reproduced, were breathtaking. If you ever have the chance to visit Washington's estate, do take it! You won't be sorry!


This wheat looks so delicious, I cannot begin to imagine why FarmWife didn't snarf it all up.
(Maybe it would have been a professional humiliation.) This photo shows a hopperboy, which raked and cooled the freshly-ground wheat flour in the attic of the timber-framed grist mill. 

FarmWife rather liked Mount Vernon's Red Devon steers. The tour guide offered to sell her a pair of calves and she very nearly would have accepted had it not been for the 3000 mile flight home. 

This reproduction of Washington's 16-sided timber-framed treading barn was made for horses: a pair or a quartet of them were trained to trot in continuous circles around the slatted second story floor, threshing the wheat underfoot. Grains were gathered on the first floor after falling through.

FarmWife thinks that I ought to have a job like that. 

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