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Billings Farm & Museum – Vermont All Rolled Up in One
During my most enjoyable visit to Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, VT, I felt like I was on a mini-tour of the country. This working farm and museum seems to embody and embody all of Vermont from a variety of perspectives:
1. His history
2. Success in land and forest conservation
3. To introduce good agriculture
Former residents of George Perkins Marsh, Frederick Billings and his granddaughter Mary French Rockefeller and her husband Laurance Spelman Rockefeller are the players who started the diversification of Billings Farm. Marsh and Billings did a great job in emphasizing and establishing the following:
1. After deforestation, it needs to be systematically replenished with new trees. This is important for new forests, of course, and to prevent flooding and soil erosion.
2. In agriculture, protection is needed to prevent soil erosion.
3. In agriculture, there is a need for ways to improve agriculture such as crop rotation, the use of selected fields and the cultivation of fields that offer alternatives to direct-to-ground culture.
4. In order to promote tourism, reserve specific areas that can be used for camping, sightseeing and sightseeing.
5. In dairy farming, the use of scientific methods to promote milk production and the efficient use of milk from buttermilk and other dairy branches.
Marsh and, beginning in 1871, Frederick Billings, owned the farm. They saw the importance of improving the above and strongly encouraged it throughout their lives. Billings, a railroad superintendent, read Marsh’s writings on the subject and devoted his life to practicing it. He planted more than 10,000 trees on his farm and in the surrounding areas. His daughter, Mary French Rockefeller, inherited the farm and married Laurance Rockefeller. Through this collaboration, they continued their efforts.
By the late 1800s, wild forests had taken over most of the land. Pictures from that time clearly show how dry much of Vermont was. The conservation and education projects of the aforementioned people helped show how systematic and well-managed reforestation can protect trees, prevent flooding, restore natural beauty and landscape, and, in general, benefit everyone.
When visiting Billings Farm, one way to start is the museum on the second floor of the visitor center. It offers fascinating exhibits on the history and everything related to the Farm, from the 1900s to the present day. Many exhibits depict the life of a farmer in ancient times.
Modern dairy farming and Jersey cattle are described in another section of the exhibition. These cows need a healthy diet of grass to survive Vermont’s winters. Billings has produced a large herd of cattle that, over the years, has won many awards. They also implemented a more comprehensive system to measure their health and productivity.
Harvesting maple syrup is another Vermont farm activity. After the water is collected from the trees, it is heated in special kettles. For farm use, a temperature of 238 degrees Fahrenheit is required, while for specialty use, a minimum temperature of 240 to 245 degrees should be reached.
Apple orchards and apple picking have always been an important part of Vermont farm life. The museum explains how the fruit was harvested, preserved and used in the preparation of various family meals.
Decades ago, before we had advanced refrigeration, a lot of ice was needed. Even today, glaciers are still widely used to provide historical clues. Modern saws with safety protection are used to cut ice in rivers and lakes. The ice is then removed from the water and transferred to carriers for storage in the ice house.
After explaining the many exhibits in the museum, there is a fun and educational film about Billings Farm. It includes the historical development of the entire work, starting from the 19th century.
This can be followed by a guided tour of the 1890 Billings farmhouse. The house was built to be the home of the farm manager, and he considered it a luxury property. Many things were included in the house that were ahead of their time, such as running water. In the basement, machinery is provided for churning butter on a large scale. In short, all these advantages were intended, even at the time, to make Billings Farm a commercial operation, not just a family farm.
George Aitken was the first manager of Billings Farm, from 1890 to 1910. He took over the day-to-day management of the farm in 1890, the year Billings died. He and the manager lived in the house, for many years until the 1980s.
The farm tour schedule includes several cooking demonstrations. This highlights the quality of traditional foods prepared on Vermont family farms. Often, the air is filled with the smell of rhubarb pie and other foods. One gets the sense of satisfaction that old farm families would have from their produce.
For those who are taking a break, the dairy restaurant, adjacent to the building, offers a variety of delicious food and drinks.
In the stand alone barn, adults and children can see the dairy cows and horses. For the safety of all concerned, people and animals, shoes should be disinfected before entering the barn. Often, children can see calves and newborn horses.
In the pastures, Southdown sheep are also kept on the farm. Because of their diet, sheep seem to prefer grass that does not interfere with cattle and horse breeds.
Other features on the farm include a chicken coop and a carriage house. Oxen and Berkshire pigs have their own areas.
The history of the Farm describes how, by 1890, it was producing an impressive 5000 pounds of butter annually. Billings Farm began a successful dairy operation in the 1940s. Due to the expansion of the American Midwest, Vermont eventually lost its former dairy leadership. Despite this, today, the government continues to provide many new ways to create and maintain a good farm, as well as preserve forests, which benefit the whole country.
All in all, when you visit the Billings Farm & Museum, a good time, and a learning time, you can have both. They have many programs to appeal to different ages. To borrow a phrase, I can honestly say that I would enjoy visiting Billings Farm and Vermont again and again, until “the cows come home.”
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