By Jeff Sovelove
The crowd that turned out for Sunday’s annual Winter’s Day on the Farm was greeted by a picture-perfect February afternoon.
In contrast to last week’s arctic vortex, temperatures soared into the 50s at the Fosterfields Living Historical Farm in Morris Township.
Visitors were treated to a slice of life on a working farm circa 1900 — including harvesting ice blocks from a pond and putting them into the ice house.
Before refrigeration, blocks of ice were stored there and insulated with straw and sawdust in the hope that they would last through the summer.
Thomas Jefferson was known to pack his ice house with snow. Smaller blocks were stored in the house in the icebox for daily use.
Slideshow photos by Jeff Sovelove. Click/ hover on images for captions:
Volunteers Justin and Mike demonstrated maple sugaring, tapping a cooperative maple tree and gathering the sweet sap with a spile and bucket.
The spile is the spout that is gently hammered into a shallow hole, drilled just far enough into the tree to reach the sap.
It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. The temperatures need to be below freezing at night and above freezing during the day for the sap to flow.
Once the tree begins to bud, it’s using the sap for energy and the maple sugaring season is effectively over.
Activities for kids included period games, drilling holes with a manual drill, and using a ripsaw to cut wood. Volunteers in the kitchen made cornbread with chili and chicken soup, producing mouth-watering aromas on the wood-burning stove.
The farm’s American Percheron horses, Major and King, greeted everyone, as did the chickens, sheep, turkeys, and the resident bull.
The volunteer staff gave tours of the Willows, where Caroline and Charles Foster (Paul Revere’s grandson) lived. Caroline spent 98 of her 102 years there.