The Pig & I: Living History

      From Loretta:
      
      Ah, synchronicity.  Susan/Sarah mentioned experiential research.  I cannot catch an arrow in my hand, but I do like to get in touch with the real thing.
      
      As the Saturday girl, I often have to blog and run, because this is my day to get done what I couldn’t do all week on account of slaving over a hot manuscript.  The current work I’m sweating over is the fourth in the Carsington brothers series.
      
      As discussed in my blog about maps, environment is crucial to me.  Ideally, in writing MISS WONDERFUL, I would have visited Derbyshire’s Peak District again.  For MR. IMPOSSIBLE, I would have explored the interior of an Egyptian pyramid or tomb.  For LORD PERFECT, I would revisit certain parts of London as well as the A4, which is approximately the Great Road to Bath my hero and heroine followed.
      
      However, even if I could travel hither and yon whenever the mood or muse strikes–which I can’t–I couldn’t time travel to the early 19th century and experience the world as my heroes and heroines would have experienced it.  So I have to do most of my research at home, via books and web surfing.  But now and again, a living history museum will do the trick.
      
      My current story, like MISS WONDERFUL and parts of LORD PERFECT, is set in the English countryside.  This time I’m working with the part of the early 19th C world that tends to be invisible in many of our stories, rather as the servants were expected to be.  This time my characters, though aristocrats, find it necessary (because I say so) to pay attention to all the inelegant, workaday stuff crucial to keeping grand country houses operating and the inhabitants fed and comfortable within them:  dairy and laundry, brew-house, bakehouse, game larder, dovecote, cowshed, pig sty, etc., etc.
      
      To get a feel for this world, I longed to travel to England and visit one of the country estates where you can go inside an old dairy or a laundry room.  This idea went the way of visiting the Peak, Egypt, and the Great Road to Bath.  I found some good books of course.  There are always good books.  They could not recreate the sight and smell of the livestock, unfortunately.  But luckily there is a place not too far away that could.

      And so last Saturday, I blogged and ran to Old Sturbridge Village, which is right here in Massachusetts.  This is one of at least two living history museums in New England.  The other is Plimoth Plantation, a recreation of the 17th C Plymouth, Massachusetts settlement (they spelled it differently, back in the days when people spelled words more or less they way they felt like it).
      
      Old Sturbridge Village recreates a New England village of the early 19th century.  The website has tons of useful material, including an online collection of clothing and artifacts, historical documents, and articles by historians.
      http://www.osv.org/
      
      Still, a website ain’t nothing like the real thing.
      
      It was a cold and rainy day (June hereabouts has been mostly cold and rainy) as we drove there, but my husband and I have spent time in Scotland, where it mostly rained and sometimes snowed with thunder and lightning and gale-force winds and hail (all within the same quarter hour) in June.  So a torrential downpour is nothing.  We dressed appropriately.  As we arrived, the sky began to clear, a good omen.
      
Osv_pigs_bull_0606_1       Here’s the scene that greeted us as we left the visitor center.  And my little nerdy heart went pitty-pat.  Ooh.  Cows (well, it was a bull, actually) and pigs and goats!  All in a row.

      The bull stood on that ramp, mooing–or bellowing: I’m not sure what bulls do but he was demanding attention.  He saw a person inside the barn and assumed she would feed him.  Bulls think that’s what people are for.Osvgoat_0606    
          
    

The goats were sweet, though they tended to look off into the distance as though they had their minds on, oh, I don’t know–pyramids? 

     But the pigs, oh, the pigs.  Well, let’s let the pictures speak for themselves.
Osvsow_piglets_0606 Osvpiglets_0606

Daddy_pig_0606 After we finally tore ourselves away from the pigs, and began to ramble the place, we learned from an interpreter that the breeds of livestock at Old Sturbridge village are historically accurate.  Even more exciting for me, these breeds of animals were English breeds–the sort that might have been on the home farm of my fictional estate.  The pigs were Gloucester Old Spots.  The red cows were Devon Long Horns.  The other cows were Milking Short Horns.  And the poultry were Dorking chickens.  I didn’t get the breeds of sheep or goats, but I know I can email OSV and someone will tell me.  Because that’s how they are.  These people are just chock full of knowledge and delighted to be asked questions.  They had all kinds of things to tell me that I didn’t know or hadn’t thought about.  It was a wonderful experience all around.
      
      I’m covering only a tiny fragment of what’s to be found and experienced there.  I was focused on livestock so that’s mainly where I spent my time.  But there are beautiful gardens, including an extensive herb garden.  A river runs through it, and you can take a boat trip.  There are concerts and gardening workshops as well as activities for kids.  But if you don’t feel like doing anything in particular, it’s simply a beautiful and peaceful place to spend the day.  Plus, there’s ice cream.  And shops, of course.
      
      Oh, and there’s a social benefit, too.  Many of our living history museums, like OSV, are having to tighten their belts these days, and some of them will not make it unless we support them by visiting and telling our friends.  I’m happy to support them because they give so much in return.
      
      Any living history museums in your area?  Or historical museums of the more static kind?  Pigs are not crucial to my enjoyment.  Right now I’m looking for a place that has an early 19th C stable, preferably an elegant one.  I’d still like to see a dairy (where they make the butter & cheese, not where they milk the cows).  But it doesn’t really matter whether or not it’s pertinent to the current book.  We nerds love learning something, anything–and an author never knows where the next idea might come from.

54 thoughts on “The Pig & I: Living History”

  1. Ok, it’s not near me, it’s in SoCal (7-8 hour drive), but I love going to Riley’s Farm for 18th century reenactments. They have a working farm and an inn. It’s a lot of fun, and the family that runs it is a blast. Not as great as Old Sturbridge, but it’s all I’ve got (and I can sleep over!):
    http://www.rileysfarm.com/
    Most of the stuff out west is Victorian. Lots of 49ers stuff, Wild West towns, etc. Dunsmuir House (huge Victorian house with grounds, stable, etc.) is only a couple of miles from me. The extended tour is fun cause you get to see the laundry, the garret, etc. One of these years I’m going to win the banquet for 20!:
    http://www.dunsmuir.org/
    And, of course, I do live very near the strangest mansion ever built, the infamous Winchester Mystery House. The Halloween Flashlight tour (in full costume!) is not to be missed (boy did we freak out the other groups who kept seeing us flit by windows and doors; our tour guide got all into it and led us through places no one should be so that even the other guides were freaked out *GRIN*):
    http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/
    I’m super excited at the moment though, cause next weekend I’m taking a gown workshop with the mantua maker from Colonial Williamsburg! She’s flying out and 16 of us are going to hang out with her all weekend and learn how to drape a 1770s sack (the cool one with the Watteau pleats!). Wish I could have it done in time to wear it to the Beau Monde Soiree in Atlanta, but there’s no chance . . .

    Reply
  2. Ok, it’s not near me, it’s in SoCal (7-8 hour drive), but I love going to Riley’s Farm for 18th century reenactments. They have a working farm and an inn. It’s a lot of fun, and the family that runs it is a blast. Not as great as Old Sturbridge, but it’s all I’ve got (and I can sleep over!):
    http://www.rileysfarm.com/
    Most of the stuff out west is Victorian. Lots of 49ers stuff, Wild West towns, etc. Dunsmuir House (huge Victorian house with grounds, stable, etc.) is only a couple of miles from me. The extended tour is fun cause you get to see the laundry, the garret, etc. One of these years I’m going to win the banquet for 20!:
    http://www.dunsmuir.org/
    And, of course, I do live very near the strangest mansion ever built, the infamous Winchester Mystery House. The Halloween Flashlight tour (in full costume!) is not to be missed (boy did we freak out the other groups who kept seeing us flit by windows and doors; our tour guide got all into it and led us through places no one should be so that even the other guides were freaked out *GRIN*):
    http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/
    I’m super excited at the moment though, cause next weekend I’m taking a gown workshop with the mantua maker from Colonial Williamsburg! She’s flying out and 16 of us are going to hang out with her all weekend and learn how to drape a 1770s sack (the cool one with the Watteau pleats!). Wish I could have it done in time to wear it to the Beau Monde Soiree in Atlanta, but there’s no chance . . .

    Reply
  3. Ok, it’s not near me, it’s in SoCal (7-8 hour drive), but I love going to Riley’s Farm for 18th century reenactments. They have a working farm and an inn. It’s a lot of fun, and the family that runs it is a blast. Not as great as Old Sturbridge, but it’s all I’ve got (and I can sleep over!):
    http://www.rileysfarm.com/
    Most of the stuff out west is Victorian. Lots of 49ers stuff, Wild West towns, etc. Dunsmuir House (huge Victorian house with grounds, stable, etc.) is only a couple of miles from me. The extended tour is fun cause you get to see the laundry, the garret, etc. One of these years I’m going to win the banquet for 20!:
    http://www.dunsmuir.org/
    And, of course, I do live very near the strangest mansion ever built, the infamous Winchester Mystery House. The Halloween Flashlight tour (in full costume!) is not to be missed (boy did we freak out the other groups who kept seeing us flit by windows and doors; our tour guide got all into it and led us through places no one should be so that even the other guides were freaked out *GRIN*):
    http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/
    I’m super excited at the moment though, cause next weekend I’m taking a gown workshop with the mantua maker from Colonial Williamsburg! She’s flying out and 16 of us are going to hang out with her all weekend and learn how to drape a 1770s sack (the cool one with the Watteau pleats!). Wish I could have it done in time to wear it to the Beau Monde Soiree in Atlanta, but there’s no chance . . .

    Reply
  4. Hi Loretta:
    LOL! ‘slaving over a hot manuscript’ Love it! Does make one wonder exactly what kind of ‘hot’.
    Thank you for your post. Great stuff. Bulls ‘call’, btw. And as you probably guessed already, they are very different from cows… especially when you approach one in the field.
    Near where I live there is a ranch — the wild, wild west kind. The Old Town is historically accurate. They even have an old jail that was disassembled brick by brick and then reassembled on their site. I worked there as a wrangler for about two years. Jangling Spurs, muddy cowboy boots, blue bandanna, chaps and a long yoke western shirt was my attire. While running the weekend hack line (taking city slickers out on nose to tail trail rides) I learned how to throw knives, crack whips, tend livestock, and wrangle horses and bulls. But my favorite part was the sound my spurred cowboy boots made as I walked across the wide porch planks on my way to the 6 am cowboy breakfast (biscuits, boiled coffee, and bacon). Yum. That was after we tied the hack line (wrangle, groom and saddle twenty horses).
    If you’re interested in traveling to south PA, we’d love to have ya.
    The Harper’s Ferry (West VA) Arts and Crafts Festival is also another really fun place to go if you want to learn about things like blacksmithing, soap making, herbs and the like. My family and I just went. I had a great time talking with the blacksmiths (one of my main characters is a blacksmith) Sure, I’ve ready up on smithing. But there was nothing like smelling the sulfur, feeling the heat of the metal, and watching it give way to the hammer. The best part was looking at their hands – broad and thick – yet so gentle and careful.
    The next festival is at the end of Sept. If you’re interested, I’ll find the dates for ya.
    Nina, thinking it’s fun to do things together.

    Reply
  5. Hi Loretta:
    LOL! ‘slaving over a hot manuscript’ Love it! Does make one wonder exactly what kind of ‘hot’.
    Thank you for your post. Great stuff. Bulls ‘call’, btw. And as you probably guessed already, they are very different from cows… especially when you approach one in the field.
    Near where I live there is a ranch — the wild, wild west kind. The Old Town is historically accurate. They even have an old jail that was disassembled brick by brick and then reassembled on their site. I worked there as a wrangler for about two years. Jangling Spurs, muddy cowboy boots, blue bandanna, chaps and a long yoke western shirt was my attire. While running the weekend hack line (taking city slickers out on nose to tail trail rides) I learned how to throw knives, crack whips, tend livestock, and wrangle horses and bulls. But my favorite part was the sound my spurred cowboy boots made as I walked across the wide porch planks on my way to the 6 am cowboy breakfast (biscuits, boiled coffee, and bacon). Yum. That was after we tied the hack line (wrangle, groom and saddle twenty horses).
    If you’re interested in traveling to south PA, we’d love to have ya.
    The Harper’s Ferry (West VA) Arts and Crafts Festival is also another really fun place to go if you want to learn about things like blacksmithing, soap making, herbs and the like. My family and I just went. I had a great time talking with the blacksmiths (one of my main characters is a blacksmith) Sure, I’ve ready up on smithing. But there was nothing like smelling the sulfur, feeling the heat of the metal, and watching it give way to the hammer. The best part was looking at their hands – broad and thick – yet so gentle and careful.
    The next festival is at the end of Sept. If you’re interested, I’ll find the dates for ya.
    Nina, thinking it’s fun to do things together.

    Reply
  6. Hi Loretta:
    LOL! ‘slaving over a hot manuscript’ Love it! Does make one wonder exactly what kind of ‘hot’.
    Thank you for your post. Great stuff. Bulls ‘call’, btw. And as you probably guessed already, they are very different from cows… especially when you approach one in the field.
    Near where I live there is a ranch — the wild, wild west kind. The Old Town is historically accurate. They even have an old jail that was disassembled brick by brick and then reassembled on their site. I worked there as a wrangler for about two years. Jangling Spurs, muddy cowboy boots, blue bandanna, chaps and a long yoke western shirt was my attire. While running the weekend hack line (taking city slickers out on nose to tail trail rides) I learned how to throw knives, crack whips, tend livestock, and wrangle horses and bulls. But my favorite part was the sound my spurred cowboy boots made as I walked across the wide porch planks on my way to the 6 am cowboy breakfast (biscuits, boiled coffee, and bacon). Yum. That was after we tied the hack line (wrangle, groom and saddle twenty horses).
    If you’re interested in traveling to south PA, we’d love to have ya.
    The Harper’s Ferry (West VA) Arts and Crafts Festival is also another really fun place to go if you want to learn about things like blacksmithing, soap making, herbs and the like. My family and I just went. I had a great time talking with the blacksmiths (one of my main characters is a blacksmith) Sure, I’ve ready up on smithing. But there was nothing like smelling the sulfur, feeling the heat of the metal, and watching it give way to the hammer. The best part was looking at their hands – broad and thick – yet so gentle and careful.
    The next festival is at the end of Sept. If you’re interested, I’ll find the dates for ya.
    Nina, thinking it’s fun to do things together.

    Reply
  7. I love historical sites, and have been to a lot of them. I’ve not made it to Old Sturbridge Village, but I do have a print from there that is a listing of herbs with illustrations. I love it.
    When I lived in NJ, I went to Waterloo Village several times; it is maintained as a working village circa late 1800s. There’s also a working “subsistence” farm, and an authentically maintained Lenape Indian site. It’s also just a gorgeous area.
    http://www.waterloovillage.org/
    The historic village at Allaire (NJ) recreates the mid 1800s, and has craftsmen engaging in metal work from that time period, as well as others:
    http://www.allairevillage.org/
    Another favorite is Shaker Village outside Lexington, KY. It’s pristinely maintained, and you can also stay there. They have a working village/farm too, with reenactments of Shaker activities. While a Shaker romance might be difficult to pull off (since the men and women were required to stay separate, and even married couples who came into the group could not continue to sleep together), they do have craftsmen and reenactors doing things as they were done in the mid to late 1800s.
    http://www.shakervillageky.org/
    On a completely different note, if you’re interested in motorcycles or are writing something occurring after they came into being, you might enjoy the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. It’s amazing. They have hundreds of motorcycles from all eras and many manufacturers, and a few cars. You can also get up close to most of them, so you can inspect (but not touch!) the dashboard controls, etc.
    http://www.barbermuseum.org/
    I am very scared about this display though:
    http://barbermuseum.org/slide/pages/chi0178.htm

    Reply
  8. I love historical sites, and have been to a lot of them. I’ve not made it to Old Sturbridge Village, but I do have a print from there that is a listing of herbs with illustrations. I love it.
    When I lived in NJ, I went to Waterloo Village several times; it is maintained as a working village circa late 1800s. There’s also a working “subsistence” farm, and an authentically maintained Lenape Indian site. It’s also just a gorgeous area.
    http://www.waterloovillage.org/
    The historic village at Allaire (NJ) recreates the mid 1800s, and has craftsmen engaging in metal work from that time period, as well as others:
    http://www.allairevillage.org/
    Another favorite is Shaker Village outside Lexington, KY. It’s pristinely maintained, and you can also stay there. They have a working village/farm too, with reenactments of Shaker activities. While a Shaker romance might be difficult to pull off (since the men and women were required to stay separate, and even married couples who came into the group could not continue to sleep together), they do have craftsmen and reenactors doing things as they were done in the mid to late 1800s.
    http://www.shakervillageky.org/
    On a completely different note, if you’re interested in motorcycles or are writing something occurring after they came into being, you might enjoy the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. It’s amazing. They have hundreds of motorcycles from all eras and many manufacturers, and a few cars. You can also get up close to most of them, so you can inspect (but not touch!) the dashboard controls, etc.
    http://www.barbermuseum.org/
    I am very scared about this display though:
    http://barbermuseum.org/slide/pages/chi0178.htm

    Reply
  9. I love historical sites, and have been to a lot of them. I’ve not made it to Old Sturbridge Village, but I do have a print from there that is a listing of herbs with illustrations. I love it.
    When I lived in NJ, I went to Waterloo Village several times; it is maintained as a working village circa late 1800s. There’s also a working “subsistence” farm, and an authentically maintained Lenape Indian site. It’s also just a gorgeous area.
    http://www.waterloovillage.org/
    The historic village at Allaire (NJ) recreates the mid 1800s, and has craftsmen engaging in metal work from that time period, as well as others:
    http://www.allairevillage.org/
    Another favorite is Shaker Village outside Lexington, KY. It’s pristinely maintained, and you can also stay there. They have a working village/farm too, with reenactments of Shaker activities. While a Shaker romance might be difficult to pull off (since the men and women were required to stay separate, and even married couples who came into the group could not continue to sleep together), they do have craftsmen and reenactors doing things as they were done in the mid to late 1800s.
    http://www.shakervillageky.org/
    On a completely different note, if you’re interested in motorcycles or are writing something occurring after they came into being, you might enjoy the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. It’s amazing. They have hundreds of motorcycles from all eras and many manufacturers, and a few cars. You can also get up close to most of them, so you can inspect (but not touch!) the dashboard controls, etc.
    http://www.barbermuseum.org/
    I am very scared about this display though:
    http://barbermuseum.org/slide/pages/chi0178.htm

    Reply
  10. What a great blog, Loretta!
    It is not exactly near me, but there is Williamsburg, of course. It is one of my favorite places to visit, in large part because I have been reading and rereading Elswyth Thane’s Williamsburg series since I was in my teens.
    A bit closer to my home is Old Salem, the restoration of an 18th-century Moravian settlement. A gem of a museum is located there, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. In a single place a visitor can walk through the varying scenes of a region that all too often is presented monolithically. It is a long way from a 17th-century Virginia great hall to a one-room Maryland plantation dwelling, from a North Carolina backcountry log house to a graceful Charleston parlor, but you can see them all in the MESDA.
    Finally, very close to where I live, there is Westville, a living history museum of a small Georgia town before the Civil War. This one is very near my home, and we have visited it often since it opened when the boys were small. Now we take the grands who are just as enthralled by the brickmaking and mule-drawn wagons as their fathers were thirty years ago. Again, the view of history Westville gives is much nearer the lives our ancestors lived that the mythic images of the plantation South. Added bonuses are a stagecoach inn in neraby Lumpkin and Andersonville.

    Reply
  11. What a great blog, Loretta!
    It is not exactly near me, but there is Williamsburg, of course. It is one of my favorite places to visit, in large part because I have been reading and rereading Elswyth Thane’s Williamsburg series since I was in my teens.
    A bit closer to my home is Old Salem, the restoration of an 18th-century Moravian settlement. A gem of a museum is located there, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. In a single place a visitor can walk through the varying scenes of a region that all too often is presented monolithically. It is a long way from a 17th-century Virginia great hall to a one-room Maryland plantation dwelling, from a North Carolina backcountry log house to a graceful Charleston parlor, but you can see them all in the MESDA.
    Finally, very close to where I live, there is Westville, a living history museum of a small Georgia town before the Civil War. This one is very near my home, and we have visited it often since it opened when the boys were small. Now we take the grands who are just as enthralled by the brickmaking and mule-drawn wagons as their fathers were thirty years ago. Again, the view of history Westville gives is much nearer the lives our ancestors lived that the mythic images of the plantation South. Added bonuses are a stagecoach inn in neraby Lumpkin and Andersonville.

    Reply
  12. What a great blog, Loretta!
    It is not exactly near me, but there is Williamsburg, of course. It is one of my favorite places to visit, in large part because I have been reading and rereading Elswyth Thane’s Williamsburg series since I was in my teens.
    A bit closer to my home is Old Salem, the restoration of an 18th-century Moravian settlement. A gem of a museum is located there, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. In a single place a visitor can walk through the varying scenes of a region that all too often is presented monolithically. It is a long way from a 17th-century Virginia great hall to a one-room Maryland plantation dwelling, from a North Carolina backcountry log house to a graceful Charleston parlor, but you can see them all in the MESDA.
    Finally, very close to where I live, there is Westville, a living history museum of a small Georgia town before the Civil War. This one is very near my home, and we have visited it often since it opened when the boys were small. Now we take the grands who are just as enthralled by the brickmaking and mule-drawn wagons as their fathers were thirty years ago. Again, the view of history Westville gives is much nearer the lives our ancestors lived that the mythic images of the plantation South. Added bonuses are a stagecoach inn in neraby Lumpkin and Andersonville.

    Reply
  13. Loretta, I was fascinated to see that there are some Gloucester Old Spot pigs in the USA. And Dairy Shorthorns – these pretty cows were still the pre-eminent dairy breed in the UK up to the early 1950s, and are now, sadly, a critically endangered breed. The Friesian (Holstein, in American English) swept the country in the 1950/60s. Even the Channel Island breeds, Jerseys and Guernseys, only survived because of their special qualities. The delightful Tamworth pigs nearly died out in the UK, and the numbers have been built up again only by importing animals back from established breeding lines in Australia.
    You might find some interesting information on the site of the (British) Rare Breeds Survival Trust:
    http://www.rbst.org.uk/index.php
    Great efforts have been made in the UK over the last 30 years or so to try to preserve breeds that have been swamped by the universal commercial imperatives of large-scale farming. Even in my own childhood, on a remote Welsh farm in the 1940s, the chickens were all of separate and recognisable breeds – Brown, Black and White Leghorns; Light Sussex, Buff Orpingtons; Rhode Island Reds (who laid those lovely brown eggs): all ‘Rare Breeds’ now.
    One thing to remember when going back into the 19th century was how very regional everything was. Those Gloucester Old Spots would not have been found in Yorkshire, or Sussex.
    🙂

    Reply
  14. Loretta, I was fascinated to see that there are some Gloucester Old Spot pigs in the USA. And Dairy Shorthorns – these pretty cows were still the pre-eminent dairy breed in the UK up to the early 1950s, and are now, sadly, a critically endangered breed. The Friesian (Holstein, in American English) swept the country in the 1950/60s. Even the Channel Island breeds, Jerseys and Guernseys, only survived because of their special qualities. The delightful Tamworth pigs nearly died out in the UK, and the numbers have been built up again only by importing animals back from established breeding lines in Australia.
    You might find some interesting information on the site of the (British) Rare Breeds Survival Trust:
    http://www.rbst.org.uk/index.php
    Great efforts have been made in the UK over the last 30 years or so to try to preserve breeds that have been swamped by the universal commercial imperatives of large-scale farming. Even in my own childhood, on a remote Welsh farm in the 1940s, the chickens were all of separate and recognisable breeds – Brown, Black and White Leghorns; Light Sussex, Buff Orpingtons; Rhode Island Reds (who laid those lovely brown eggs): all ‘Rare Breeds’ now.
    One thing to remember when going back into the 19th century was how very regional everything was. Those Gloucester Old Spots would not have been found in Yorkshire, or Sussex.
    🙂

    Reply
  15. Loretta, I was fascinated to see that there are some Gloucester Old Spot pigs in the USA. And Dairy Shorthorns – these pretty cows were still the pre-eminent dairy breed in the UK up to the early 1950s, and are now, sadly, a critically endangered breed. The Friesian (Holstein, in American English) swept the country in the 1950/60s. Even the Channel Island breeds, Jerseys and Guernseys, only survived because of their special qualities. The delightful Tamworth pigs nearly died out in the UK, and the numbers have been built up again only by importing animals back from established breeding lines in Australia.
    You might find some interesting information on the site of the (British) Rare Breeds Survival Trust:
    http://www.rbst.org.uk/index.php
    Great efforts have been made in the UK over the last 30 years or so to try to preserve breeds that have been swamped by the universal commercial imperatives of large-scale farming. Even in my own childhood, on a remote Welsh farm in the 1940s, the chickens were all of separate and recognisable breeds – Brown, Black and White Leghorns; Light Sussex, Buff Orpingtons; Rhode Island Reds (who laid those lovely brown eggs): all ‘Rare Breeds’ now.
    One thing to remember when going back into the 19th century was how very regional everything was. Those Gloucester Old Spots would not have been found in Yorkshire, or Sussex.
    🙂

    Reply
  16. I knew I’d get some good suggestions when I posted this. I’ve been busily bookmarking the sites suggested. Thanks, Tonda, Nina, SusannahC, Wylene, and AgTigress.
    And AgTigress, yes, good point about remembering that in England the breeds would be regional.
    Here in the U.S. the livestock got imported to wherever it got imported to. An interpreter also pointed out that until the late 18th, early 19th C, breeding wasn’t all that selective, in the U.S., at any rate. This was the time when my English gentlemen were studying how to improve their farms and production. Americans were doing it too: Which cows produced creamier milk, for instance? But this becomes more important as farmers start producing to sell and want to sell in quanitity, rather than producing what they need to live.
    Though I’m not sure my readers care all that much what breed of pig or cow or sheep is in the story, I would dearly love to find out what breeds were in Cheshire…
    OSV has entered a partnership with the Heritage Breeds Conservancy, which sounds similar to the organization you cited.

    Reply
  17. I knew I’d get some good suggestions when I posted this. I’ve been busily bookmarking the sites suggested. Thanks, Tonda, Nina, SusannahC, Wylene, and AgTigress.
    And AgTigress, yes, good point about remembering that in England the breeds would be regional.
    Here in the U.S. the livestock got imported to wherever it got imported to. An interpreter also pointed out that until the late 18th, early 19th C, breeding wasn’t all that selective, in the U.S., at any rate. This was the time when my English gentlemen were studying how to improve their farms and production. Americans were doing it too: Which cows produced creamier milk, for instance? But this becomes more important as farmers start producing to sell and want to sell in quanitity, rather than producing what they need to live.
    Though I’m not sure my readers care all that much what breed of pig or cow or sheep is in the story, I would dearly love to find out what breeds were in Cheshire…
    OSV has entered a partnership with the Heritage Breeds Conservancy, which sounds similar to the organization you cited.

    Reply
  18. I knew I’d get some good suggestions when I posted this. I’ve been busily bookmarking the sites suggested. Thanks, Tonda, Nina, SusannahC, Wylene, and AgTigress.
    And AgTigress, yes, good point about remembering that in England the breeds would be regional.
    Here in the U.S. the livestock got imported to wherever it got imported to. An interpreter also pointed out that until the late 18th, early 19th C, breeding wasn’t all that selective, in the U.S., at any rate. This was the time when my English gentlemen were studying how to improve their farms and production. Americans were doing it too: Which cows produced creamier milk, for instance? But this becomes more important as farmers start producing to sell and want to sell in quanitity, rather than producing what they need to live.
    Though I’m not sure my readers care all that much what breed of pig or cow or sheep is in the story, I would dearly love to find out what breeds were in Cheshire…
    OSV has entered a partnership with the Heritage Breeds Conservancy, which sounds similar to the organization you cited.

    Reply
  19. Really controlled selective breeding, including the establishment of pedigree records, did not get going properly till the 18th century, and, as you obviously know very well, it was part of the whole scientific spirit of the Enlightenment, which included the agrarian revolution in this country – the beginning of more scientific agriculture, with deliberate crop-rotation and such.
    🙂

    Reply
  20. Really controlled selective breeding, including the establishment of pedigree records, did not get going properly till the 18th century, and, as you obviously know very well, it was part of the whole scientific spirit of the Enlightenment, which included the agrarian revolution in this country – the beginning of more scientific agriculture, with deliberate crop-rotation and such.
    🙂

    Reply
  21. Really controlled selective breeding, including the establishment of pedigree records, did not get going properly till the 18th century, and, as you obviously know very well, it was part of the whole scientific spirit of the Enlightenment, which included the agrarian revolution in this country – the beginning of more scientific agriculture, with deliberate crop-rotation and such.
    🙂

    Reply
  22. Loretta, I don’t know if this will help you, but Shaker Village in Lexington (which I mentioned earlier) has a program to preserve the breeds of farm animals the Shakers had in the mid-1800s, some of which were imported from Great Britain. They include “milking Shorthorn cattle, Percheron horses, Bakewell and Leicester sheep and various varieties of poultry including Dominique chickens”. Here’s the specific page to access the info:
    http://www.shakervillageky.org/vill/villexp2hisfar.asp
    No mention of pigs, though I can attest to the Kentuckian love of pork :D, especially in barbeque. (I’m a native Kentuckian, albeit currently out of pocket).

    Reply
  23. Loretta, I don’t know if this will help you, but Shaker Village in Lexington (which I mentioned earlier) has a program to preserve the breeds of farm animals the Shakers had in the mid-1800s, some of which were imported from Great Britain. They include “milking Shorthorn cattle, Percheron horses, Bakewell and Leicester sheep and various varieties of poultry including Dominique chickens”. Here’s the specific page to access the info:
    http://www.shakervillageky.org/vill/villexp2hisfar.asp
    No mention of pigs, though I can attest to the Kentuckian love of pork :D, especially in barbeque. (I’m a native Kentuckian, albeit currently out of pocket).

    Reply
  24. Loretta, I don’t know if this will help you, but Shaker Village in Lexington (which I mentioned earlier) has a program to preserve the breeds of farm animals the Shakers had in the mid-1800s, some of which were imported from Great Britain. They include “milking Shorthorn cattle, Percheron horses, Bakewell and Leicester sheep and various varieties of poultry including Dominique chickens”. Here’s the specific page to access the info:
    http://www.shakervillageky.org/vill/villexp2hisfar.asp
    No mention of pigs, though I can attest to the Kentuckian love of pork :D, especially in barbeque. (I’m a native Kentuckian, albeit currently out of pocket).

    Reply
  25. AgTigress, I’ve read a number of agricultural experiments–some truly bizarre. These are some of the numerous fascinating articles that appear in the Philosophical Magazine (a resource I referred to in the maps post a few weeks ago). There were some detailed articles on foot rot in sheep–which is mentioned, SusannaC, on that Shaker Village site. It seems that the Bakewell and Leicester sheep are less susceptible. This would be a powerful selling point. Thank you for providing the link.

    Reply
  26. AgTigress, I’ve read a number of agricultural experiments–some truly bizarre. These are some of the numerous fascinating articles that appear in the Philosophical Magazine (a resource I referred to in the maps post a few weeks ago). There were some detailed articles on foot rot in sheep–which is mentioned, SusannaC, on that Shaker Village site. It seems that the Bakewell and Leicester sheep are less susceptible. This would be a powerful selling point. Thank you for providing the link.

    Reply
  27. AgTigress, I’ve read a number of agricultural experiments–some truly bizarre. These are some of the numerous fascinating articles that appear in the Philosophical Magazine (a resource I referred to in the maps post a few weeks ago). There were some detailed articles on foot rot in sheep–which is mentioned, SusannaC, on that Shaker Village site. It seems that the Bakewell and Leicester sheep are less susceptible. This would be a powerful selling point. Thank you for providing the link.

    Reply
  28. tal sez:
    I’ve always thought Coke of Norfolk’s annual “shearings,” where people got together to exchange ideas on agricultural improvement (and party!) would make a great setting for a Regency; but I’ve never been able to find any information on them.

    Reply
  29. tal sez:
    I’ve always thought Coke of Norfolk’s annual “shearings,” where people got together to exchange ideas on agricultural improvement (and party!) would make a great setting for a Regency; but I’ve never been able to find any information on them.

    Reply
  30. tal sez:
    I’ve always thought Coke of Norfolk’s annual “shearings,” where people got together to exchange ideas on agricultural improvement (and party!) would make a great setting for a Regency; but I’ve never been able to find any information on them.

    Reply
  31. I know some guys who have a farm that I call NOAH’S EDIBLE ARK. They only have heritage breed critters (except for the emus which they rescued from some guy who after deciding they were a bad investment was just going to shoot them all). A couple of years ago they drove from CA to IN to get some pigs! Wish I could remember what kind . . . they were smallish and red (I do remember that they were English).

    Reply
  32. I know some guys who have a farm that I call NOAH’S EDIBLE ARK. They only have heritage breed critters (except for the emus which they rescued from some guy who after deciding they were a bad investment was just going to shoot them all). A couple of years ago they drove from CA to IN to get some pigs! Wish I could remember what kind . . . they were smallish and red (I do remember that they were English).

    Reply
  33. I know some guys who have a farm that I call NOAH’S EDIBLE ARK. They only have heritage breed critters (except for the emus which they rescued from some guy who after deciding they were a bad investment was just going to shoot them all). A couple of years ago they drove from CA to IN to get some pigs! Wish I could remember what kind . . . they were smallish and red (I do remember that they were English).

    Reply
  34. from Susan/Sarah:
    Loved your post, Loretta, lots of fun info, observations, and great photos!
    I’ve been to a couple of living history places in Scotland, one that I remember was based on 18th c. Highland life, with a furnished thatched blackhouse, roaming sheep and goats, with a garden and crops tended by the owner’s family, who lived down the road. It’s all set near a beautiful loch (I wish I could remember the name of it just now!). Gorgeous scenery, and a great place to get a genuine grasp of Scottish farm life, including the authentic smells….
    I once did a medieval blacksmithing and swordsmithing book, The Sword Maiden, and had a great time watching blacksmiths at work. That year, I met a blacksmith on the Isle of Skye who also makes reproduction medieval and Viking weaponry. He told me all sorts of cool and useful stuff that I’d never have found in a research book. Cute, too, so that was a handy addition to the research. 😉

    Reply
  35. from Susan/Sarah:
    Loved your post, Loretta, lots of fun info, observations, and great photos!
    I’ve been to a couple of living history places in Scotland, one that I remember was based on 18th c. Highland life, with a furnished thatched blackhouse, roaming sheep and goats, with a garden and crops tended by the owner’s family, who lived down the road. It’s all set near a beautiful loch (I wish I could remember the name of it just now!). Gorgeous scenery, and a great place to get a genuine grasp of Scottish farm life, including the authentic smells….
    I once did a medieval blacksmithing and swordsmithing book, The Sword Maiden, and had a great time watching blacksmiths at work. That year, I met a blacksmith on the Isle of Skye who also makes reproduction medieval and Viking weaponry. He told me all sorts of cool and useful stuff that I’d never have found in a research book. Cute, too, so that was a handy addition to the research. 😉

    Reply
  36. from Susan/Sarah:
    Loved your post, Loretta, lots of fun info, observations, and great photos!
    I’ve been to a couple of living history places in Scotland, one that I remember was based on 18th c. Highland life, with a furnished thatched blackhouse, roaming sheep and goats, with a garden and crops tended by the owner’s family, who lived down the road. It’s all set near a beautiful loch (I wish I could remember the name of it just now!). Gorgeous scenery, and a great place to get a genuine grasp of Scottish farm life, including the authentic smells….
    I once did a medieval blacksmithing and swordsmithing book, The Sword Maiden, and had a great time watching blacksmiths at work. That year, I met a blacksmith on the Isle of Skye who also makes reproduction medieval and Viking weaponry. He told me all sorts of cool and useful stuff that I’d never have found in a research book. Cute, too, so that was a handy addition to the research. 😉

    Reply
  37. Huzzah huzzah for the cool post ‘n pics and shout out to living history museums, Loretta!
    Starting when I was 17, I worked for three consecutive summers, and one winter at Old Bethpage Village Restoration on Long Island.
    http://www.oldbethpage.org
    They have many houses, about 400 acres and a working farm.
    Everyday I’d dress up in fabulous costumes, learn history and 19th century skills, and be outdoors chatting with people. And they paid ME to do it, not the other way around. It was a dream job, and one I found by simply showing up asking “Do you have any jobs?” The people who worked there, old and young, were very close. Lots of teachers did it, either in retirement or for fun and a few bucks on their summer break.
    And you’re right about the budgets being squeezed every chance they get. I heard they eliminated young seasonal workers like me for a time, and wonder if that’s still the case.
    I am not much of a fan of Long Island, but I really recommend a visit to OBVR! Gosh, now I feel I need a visit. Been too long.
    Again, thanks for the memories!

    Reply
  38. Huzzah huzzah for the cool post ‘n pics and shout out to living history museums, Loretta!
    Starting when I was 17, I worked for three consecutive summers, and one winter at Old Bethpage Village Restoration on Long Island.
    http://www.oldbethpage.org
    They have many houses, about 400 acres and a working farm.
    Everyday I’d dress up in fabulous costumes, learn history and 19th century skills, and be outdoors chatting with people. And they paid ME to do it, not the other way around. It was a dream job, and one I found by simply showing up asking “Do you have any jobs?” The people who worked there, old and young, were very close. Lots of teachers did it, either in retirement or for fun and a few bucks on their summer break.
    And you’re right about the budgets being squeezed every chance they get. I heard they eliminated young seasonal workers like me for a time, and wonder if that’s still the case.
    I am not much of a fan of Long Island, but I really recommend a visit to OBVR! Gosh, now I feel I need a visit. Been too long.
    Again, thanks for the memories!

    Reply
  39. Huzzah huzzah for the cool post ‘n pics and shout out to living history museums, Loretta!
    Starting when I was 17, I worked for three consecutive summers, and one winter at Old Bethpage Village Restoration on Long Island.
    http://www.oldbethpage.org
    They have many houses, about 400 acres and a working farm.
    Everyday I’d dress up in fabulous costumes, learn history and 19th century skills, and be outdoors chatting with people. And they paid ME to do it, not the other way around. It was a dream job, and one I found by simply showing up asking “Do you have any jobs?” The people who worked there, old and young, were very close. Lots of teachers did it, either in retirement or for fun and a few bucks on their summer break.
    And you’re right about the budgets being squeezed every chance they get. I heard they eliminated young seasonal workers like me for a time, and wonder if that’s still the case.
    I am not much of a fan of Long Island, but I really recommend a visit to OBVR! Gosh, now I feel I need a visit. Been too long.
    Again, thanks for the memories!

    Reply
  40. Tonda, if the pigs had very long snouts, upstanding (not lop) ears, and quite a thick chestnut-red-coloured pelt, they were probably Tamworths. On the other hand, Tamworths are not particularly small.
    The back-breeding used to ‘recreate’ Iron Age pigs at Butser in Hampshire, an experimental archaeologiy site that aims (maybe aimed – I am not sure if it is still active since the death of its founder) to study life in 1st century BC southern England, involved crossing Tamworths, the most direct descendants of medieval British pigs, with wild swine.

    Reply
  41. Tonda, if the pigs had very long snouts, upstanding (not lop) ears, and quite a thick chestnut-red-coloured pelt, they were probably Tamworths. On the other hand, Tamworths are not particularly small.
    The back-breeding used to ‘recreate’ Iron Age pigs at Butser in Hampshire, an experimental archaeologiy site that aims (maybe aimed – I am not sure if it is still active since the death of its founder) to study life in 1st century BC southern England, involved crossing Tamworths, the most direct descendants of medieval British pigs, with wild swine.

    Reply
  42. Tonda, if the pigs had very long snouts, upstanding (not lop) ears, and quite a thick chestnut-red-coloured pelt, they were probably Tamworths. On the other hand, Tamworths are not particularly small.
    The back-breeding used to ‘recreate’ Iron Age pigs at Butser in Hampshire, an experimental archaeologiy site that aims (maybe aimed – I am not sure if it is still active since the death of its founder) to study life in 1st century BC southern England, involved crossing Tamworths, the most direct descendants of medieval British pigs, with wild swine.

    Reply
  43. Susan/Sarah, the next time I go to Skye, I’m looking for that blacksmith. I mean, because the work is so fascinatin’, don’t you know. I must say I was really impressed with the Scottish scenery in that regard. In fact, only when I was there did I realize how very manly a man could look in a skirt!
    Susie, I got to know some people at Plimoth Plantation and Old Sturbridge Village, who had exactly the enthusiasm you express for the experience. They really were communities. Thank you so much for the link to the Old Bethpage Village site. That’s definitely within reasonable driving distance. I had such a skewed idea of Long Island until I went there for a writers’ conference, and discovered the countryside.

    Reply
  44. Susan/Sarah, the next time I go to Skye, I’m looking for that blacksmith. I mean, because the work is so fascinatin’, don’t you know. I must say I was really impressed with the Scottish scenery in that regard. In fact, only when I was there did I realize how very manly a man could look in a skirt!
    Susie, I got to know some people at Plimoth Plantation and Old Sturbridge Village, who had exactly the enthusiasm you express for the experience. They really were communities. Thank you so much for the link to the Old Bethpage Village site. That’s definitely within reasonable driving distance. I had such a skewed idea of Long Island until I went there for a writers’ conference, and discovered the countryside.

    Reply
  45. Susan/Sarah, the next time I go to Skye, I’m looking for that blacksmith. I mean, because the work is so fascinatin’, don’t you know. I must say I was really impressed with the Scottish scenery in that regard. In fact, only when I was there did I realize how very manly a man could look in a skirt!
    Susie, I got to know some people at Plimoth Plantation and Old Sturbridge Village, who had exactly the enthusiasm you express for the experience. They really were communities. Thank you so much for the link to the Old Bethpage Village site. That’s definitely within reasonable driving distance. I had such a skewed idea of Long Island until I went there for a writers’ conference, and discovered the countryside.

    Reply
  46. I totally understand Loretta — being from L.I., I became an expert at how to show people only the good parts of the isle — there are many, but it’s not easy to plot the course without hitting strip malls and such.
    Still, if you ever can come out to visit OBVR, you must promise to let me and my mom know. We will show you the good parts and a good time. And we’ll feed you too! : D
    Best,
    susie

    Reply
  47. I totally understand Loretta — being from L.I., I became an expert at how to show people only the good parts of the isle — there are many, but it’s not easy to plot the course without hitting strip malls and such.
    Still, if you ever can come out to visit OBVR, you must promise to let me and my mom know. We will show you the good parts and a good time. And we’ll feed you too! : D
    Best,
    susie

    Reply
  48. I totally understand Loretta — being from L.I., I became an expert at how to show people only the good parts of the isle — there are many, but it’s not easy to plot the course without hitting strip malls and such.
    Still, if you ever can come out to visit OBVR, you must promise to let me and my mom know. We will show you the good parts and a good time. And we’ll feed you too! : D
    Best,
    susie

    Reply

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