What was life like for pioneers in the 1800’s? While reading can tell us a lot, families can learn even more by watching Summer at Ross Farm, a video of Nova Scotia’s Living Museum of Agriculture. This DVD is a feast for the eye as well as the imagination.
Summer was a time to prepare food for the rest of the year. There was little room for error; every day and every crop had to be as productive as possible. The pioneers were busy indeed.
Besides the daily chores of separating the milk, collecting the eggs, and preparing all the meals, the women gardened, harvested, preserved, and pickled all summer and fall, sometimes putting away as much as 300 bushels of potatoes for one family. They also spun wool, mended, baked bread, and wove baskets.
The men worked outside, caring for livestock, harvesting hay and other crops, and bringing them all to the barn. They worked on new or existing farm buildings. In spare moments they tended to their other trades, such as making barrels, sawing wood, blacksmithing, or woodworking.
At Ross Farm, every detail is authentic and the chatty workers are experts in heritage trades and skills, preserving the past in action as well as artifact. Even the breeds of animals used are traditional, and we learn about them all—pigs, sheep, chickens, horses, and cows.
Summer on Ross Farm would be an excellent addition to any study of pioneers, both in homeschools and day schools. Young hands-on enthusiasts can delight in the discussions of trades and skills, young history buffs can revel in the authenticity, and young dreamers can let their imaginations soar. Of course, parents can, and will, do the same.
If you have any wiggle room in your homeschool budget, Summer on Ross Farm is worth considering (and if you have little ones, you’ll want to get Katherine’s Farm as well).
Summer on Ross Farm is available from Rural Route Videos. You may also be able to find it at museums or your local farm supply store.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Summer on Ross Farm from Rural Route Videos in order to give you my honest opinion.