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Making New Farm Memories, Recounting Old Ones

By Gabe Ross, Farm Manager
One of the things I love about my job at Gallant Farm is introducing new experiences and information to visitors. Sometimes it’s teaching them about the role of livestock on a Depression era farm, or letting them get their hands dirty by planting vegetables or digging potatoes. There are many new experiences to be had here and a lot you can learn, but over the past five years I’ve found that listening and learning from visitors is just as important and exciting.

There are many people still alive today who lived and grew up in the 1930s, which is the period represented by Gallant Farm. And for me, being able to interpret that period is really a great opportunity, because I hear many firsthand accounts of life during the Great Depression, from people who live on and off the farm. These stories supply me with localized and informative accounts of what was really going on here in Delaware County at that time. These personal stories, which you won’t find in history books, often end up woven into tours and school field trips at the farm.

Antiques in the house or pieces of equipment in the barn regularly bring up long-forgotten memories. One man noticed the hat pins in the bedroom and remembered his grandmother using one to defend her bingo winnings from a mugger. And the sight of our wood-burning stove led to the tale of a man who didn’t like to take the time to cut firewood into lengths, so he just shoved the ends of logs into the stove and propped the other ends on a chair. As each long log burned, he just moved the chair closer to the stove. Kids and adults alike get a big kick out of these stories, and it makes it easier for them to picture life in the past.

Listening to farmers from that time has also helped me trouble-shoot problems with my tractor, corn planter, and countless other old gadgets. While I have a pretty good knowledge of the antique equipment and contraptions, I have had a few identified for me by old farmers. I glean as much as I can from the men and women who visit and have so much to offer.

I look forward to the warm season when more visitors come with new stories to add to our repertoire. I encourage anyone who comes to the farm to kick back in the kitchen or on the porch and just take in the stories of the passing visitors. And don’t be afraid to share one of your own.

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