The farm driveway with its Eastern Redbud in bloom.
The Stevenson Public History Program's study area in Frederick County--Baxter Farm-- is beautiful in the spring!!! In earlier posts we let you know about the service learning project in which Stevenson's Public History Program is providing historical research in support of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Located in southern Frederick County--about a mile above where the Monocacy River joins the Potomac--the historic farm is a perfect example of how that rural part of Maryland developed between 1721-1975. Nearly 300 years of history are represented by the property, as well as the people who owned the property, the people who worked the land, and the surrounding community. Managed by the DNR, Baxter Farm's curators are Brenden & Anna Bosmans. We would like to thank Peter Morrill of DNR and the Bosmans for allowing us access to their property. Following are a few photos we took yesterday that explain a little bit of the property, its history, and the history of the surrounding community.
Bank barn and corn crib-tractor shed along the farm driveway.
As we approached the bank barn and tractor shed we stopped and listened. A deep hum was coming from them that we could hear about 100 ft away; a sound I had never heard before. Growing up in NYC, and not on a 300-year old farm, I was unfamiliar with carpenter bees. Thousands of them. Scary looking, but pretty harmless from a stinging perspective--the males zoomed over and bumped into us as we walked along the drive. Creating their home by boring into weathered wood, on many farms these bees need to be motivated to leave since they bore burrows in the wood reducing its strength. Pollinators that work magic in the eco-system, it will be interesting to see which approach is best for humans, farm, and bees to coexist.
Spring house/meat house, windmill, and homestead.
The focus of yesterday's visit was to take a closer look at the springhouse and its windmill. An early form of refrigeration, springhouses were generally built over running water, and contained a channel or trough through which the spring would run. Dairy products in their ceramic or glass containers were placed in the trough as the cooling water bathed them on its flow out the downstream side of the springhouse. In our instance, the windmill is thought to have pumped the water that flowed through the trough. Also described as a meat house or smokehouse, the "double life" of the structure is troubling. Spring houses aren't good smokehouses nor vice versa. The picture below helps resolve the issue.
The low brick wall in the foreground and the plastered brick wall in the background delineate the trough through which the water ran.
Ceiling of springhouse.
Along the ceiling can be found a variety of hooks, rods, and nails that could be used to hang meat during a smoking process.
The tale the two photos may be telling is that the springhouse operated until electricity and refrigeration arrived on the farm. Once the building was no longer needed for cooling purposes, it became available for use for smoking meat. Possibly, the trough was used for holding the wood and charcoal necessary for the smoking process. The lack of deep discoloration of the joists may reflect the fact that the building's use as a smokehouse was short lived.
Woven wire fencing
The property is ringed with old woven wire fencing that is made without any barbs. Many farmers ran 1-3 strands of barbwire above their woven wire, but we have yet to run into that at Baxter Farm.
Tree grew around the woven wire.
Until our next trip out to the farm--