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Vintage italian gilt crystal chandelier
Antique Lighting Living History Farms

Antique Lighting Living History Farms Antique Lighting Living History Farms

Lily and her calf are both doing great!  We decided to name the calf Half Pint in the spirit of weights and measures in our summer theme of the Science of Everyday Life!

Now with the risk of sounding like an infomercial for baking soda I want to just state that this particular product has many wonderful uses. Turn of the century households knew this, and thanks to the internet and a desire for “clean living,” modern households are rediscovering the wonderful uses for baking soda. This product, developed as early as the 1790s but brought into common use in America by the 1850s, can be used in several different rooms of the house.

We have several special events and new activities planned this season for the Flynn House. We’re hosting the Flynn Garden Party to honor mothers in just a few days. Be sure to come and join the fun!

The lighting came in very handy as the Flynn mansion hosted a new series of Flynn Dinners and Teas during March and April. The dinners staff led by Lucy Olson prepared and served elegant nine-course dinners featuring such delicacies as oysters, mock turtle soup, chicken rissoles, and an amazing Chocolate Charlotte for dessert. According to several guests, the food was fabulous and the table setting was beautiful. Congratulations to all the cooks! The afternoon tea program was also very successful! The three-course teas included a tour of the house as well as delicious soup, savories, and sweets.

Hello Everyone! My name is Kate Dahl and I am a Domestic Programs Assistant here at Living History Farms, working primarily at the 1900 Farm and the Tangen House. Since I started working at the 1900 Farm last summer, I have discovered several interesting items both in the house and the barn about which I would love to teach visitors. Throughout the summer I plan to feature a new object each week, and I encourage you all to come visit us and see some of our lesser-known treasures!

As baking soda is something we keep on hand at the 1900 house we decided to give it a shot. What we found was that Samuel Morse’s recommendation were good ones. Using a strong tincture of baking soda, water, and elbow grease we scrubbed the black off the walls, restoring them to their green color. In a way it was like Morse invented the magic eraser, one hundred years early. The change with such a simple solution was tremendous. Check out the following picture:

In addition, the farm, like the rest of central Iowa, is finally starting to turn green. The rain the past few days has helped us out and I am sure that before we know it the grass will have to be mowed. We are looking forward to getting lettuce and other early veggies into the garden and planting the fields. We open for touring on May 1st, so make plans with the family to come and visit, see what’s new, and learn about the Science of Everyday Life.

In the past two weeks we have been hard at work getting things ready for a new season. Potatoes went into the ground last Friday, and the storm windows came off the week prior to that. Changing the windows on the 1893 Farm House is always a sign to me that the season is turning. Storm windows on in the Fall, screens on in the Spring. With any luck, before too long we will be opening windows and enjoying warm Spring breezes.

tags: Hot summer days, How-To, Medicine Chest, Medicine in 1900

Recently we noticed that the green walls of the back kitchen of the 1900 house had started to tint black due to the smoke and soot of the wood burning stove. As this is a 19th century problem that we don’t commonly deal with in the 21st century, we consulted a turn of the century household guide.

Welcome back! I apologize for being quiet this winter, it has been very busy here at the 1900 Farm. We have new staff and new animals and are ready to dive into planting season. A new team of horses arrived last fall, a new boar in January, and baby chicks got here about 3 weeks ago. We are looking forward to a new calf in May or June and litters of piglets in the fall for a change.

This morning the 1900 welcomed a new addition to the farm. Our milk cow Lily gave birth to a bouncing baby bull. Mom and calf are doing well. Next time you come to the 1900 farm be sure to ask the farmers if you can meet the baby, who is so new and fresh that he doesn’t have a name yet. Do you have any suggestions on what his name should be? Happy Birthday baby calf!

I am very pleased to tell you that we finally have lighting throughout the entire house. Martin Flynn installed gas lighting in the mansion when it was built in 1870, and electric lighting was added at a later time. As Living History Farms restored the home, antique gas chandeliers converted to electricity were installed in some of the rooms. Over the past 43 years we have slowly added period appropriate fixtures to the rooms. Last winter, just before the Flynn historic dinners program began, a lovely chandelier was hung in the master bedroom, and more lights were placed in the three back bedrooms, back hallway and butler’s pantry. Kitchen fixtures had been added last season. Thanks to a grant from the LHF Guild, we were able to purchase all these fixtures, convert them to electricity, and finish the lighting project. I would like to thank Deb Irving, our Collections Specialist, who found all these fixtures for us, Dave Meschek of Antique Lighting Company who repaired and converted them, and our Maintenance Staff – Dean Irving, Dean Boots and Dan Gallardo – who installed them.

My inaugural object is an almond cake (or Toscakaka) pan. Almond cake is a Swedish cake, and is still very popular today; in fact, modern almond cake pans can be easily found through a simple internet search. Though we do not portray the 1900 Farm as being the home of a Swedish-American family specifically, many Swedish immigrants had settled in Iowa in the decades leading up to 1900.

As spring has finally come into full swing here on the 1900 farm, the cherry, pear, and apple blossoms in the orchard and fresh shoots of clover emerging in the hayfields have reminded me of the importance of bees to the farm.  Despite spending most of my life being terrified of all stinging insects, I have come to have a great respect, appreciation, and love for honeybees.  Read more…

Page 284 of Sidney Morse’s 1908 book Household Discoveries instructed us:

Some other exciting things are happening this spring. The basement of the 1900 house is going through a remodel to help with preservation and water issues. We have cleaned out the space – we weren’t sure how long some of the items had been there. Just like your basement, we have stashes where things start to collect, and it has been a journey of discovery in some ways as we make this space more useable for the museum. Here is a rare behind the scenes look at part of the 1900 basement. The house was lived in until the 1970s so it had been modernized. When it was brought to Living History Farms the museum retrofitted the ground floor to represent a turn of the century farm house, but in some places in the house, modern elements still exist. These features allow us to operate as a museum! At the end of the remodel the dryer will be moved and the pipe will not be so long, along with other small changes. I may be able to give you another glimpse when it is all done.

Now we just need the weather to cooperate. LHF was forced to close May 2 and May 3 due to a surprise snow storm that dumped heavy, wet snow all over our lovely daffodils and hyacinths. However, the weather is scheduled to warm up, and soon the magnificent hedge of lilacs which runs in front and along the side of the mansion will be in full bloom! Be sure to plan a trip soon to enjoy the sight and fragrance of these blossoms.

Intrigued? Look for the recipe to be posted later in the week!

The 1900 Farm welcomed a new animal into our herd earlier this year: a boar who has been given the farm name of “Harvey”.  Harvey is an 18 month old purebred Berkshire boar who comes to us from Dr. Pete Hoffman and his operation, Phenotypic Acres, south of Ames, IA. Dr. Hoffman has been in the Berkshire business for 29 years and has implemented intensive breeding selection using the most extensive testing procedures available to the swine industry. Harvey demonstrates all the classic characteristics of the Berkshire breed: black body, white face and legs, and erect ears. He also has the personality of a puppy – he loves to follow us around his pen and often plays a game of hiding his water pan when it’s empty!

tags: Antique Lighting, Historic dinners and teas, Mother’s Day

The 1900 Farm welcomes Kelly, our new farm manager. You can read about Kelly’s background in the About Us section. She will be writing some blog posts about the animals and machinery this summer. We hope to get a post out to you about every other week.

Did you know that the new chicks are sent to the 1900 Farm through the U.S. Mail when they are only 1 day old?

Hogs have always been an important staple on Iowa farms. As the leading pork-producing state, Iowa’s swine population is currently around six times the human population of the state. With the growth of Des Moines and its suburbs and urban sprawl, it may be hard to imagine now, but in 1900 there were actually more pigs than people right here in Polk county. Read more…

To Remove Blackened Walls. – A smoked or blackened ceiling or wall may be cleaned by means of a cloth wrung out of a strong solution of baking soda and water. Or use vinegar and water. If the stain is not all removed, dissolve gum shellac in alcohol to the consistency of milk or cream and with it cover the sooty parts. Paint or whitewash over the shellac. The black will not show through.

The first day of May was cool and windy as Living History Farms and the Flynn Mansion opened for the 2013 season. New staffer Matthew Beyer joined me in welcoming eleven school groups and quickly proved he is a great addition to our staff. Matt was a volunteer last season and will be working as the lead counselor for Camp Victoria this summer as well as a staff member here at Flynn on Saturdays and Sundays. I’m also pleased to report that one of last year’s interns, Chelsea Tegels, will be returning shortly to work on Mondays, and Kate Dahl, the 1900/Tangen domestic assistant, will work with me on Wednesdays. Assisted by our irreplaceable volunteer Flynn Ladies, we’re all very excited to welcome you to the Flynn House this summer!

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