From Ithaca we traveled to my Grandmother's house in Oneonta, NY. Having a few days in the area gave me the chance to take Tristan to one of my favorite childhood places--the Farmers' Museum in Cooperstown. The Farmers' Museum has a wonderful collection of 19th c. tools and household items, along with a "village" of historic buildings and a working farm with a heritage breed program that reflects the crops and methods used in the early to mid 19th century. The Farmers' Museum is really a people's history museum--it celebrates the ingenuity and creativity of regular folks. Yay for that.
We had lots of fun learning about the heritage breeds they raise at the museum, the hops they cultivate (hops was the most popular cash crop in the area at the time), and seeing how homemade cheese turns out when you can't cool it for aging (it comes out hard as a rock, like a parmesan). My favorite part of the day was watching a demonstration of how flax is turned into linen. It was astonishing how quickly and easily the craftsperson turned dry raw flax into a soft fiber that felt much like horsehair. I think we will try to grow flax next year and see if we ca figure out the process. Sadly, most of the books we found on turning flax to linen are out of print, so we'll have to do some digging for guidance.