Kentucky: Land Between the Lakes

Kentucky: Land Between the Lakes

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Kentucky: Land Between the Lakes

Kentucky: Land Between the Lakes

Saturday July 17, 2004
Canal COE Campground: Grand Lakes, Kentucky (LBL Land Between the Lakes). On Lake Barkley: N36° 59.987': W88° 12.683' $20.00, lake front site (premium) with water & 50amps, central dump.

We slowed down a bit today. It was raining early this morning so we slept in. Sleeping in when the rain is dropping on our aluminum rood is an easy thing to do.

Our destination today was the Home Place (a living history farm) located on the south part of the LBL Trace. A "Living History" place is like a museum but instead of sterile exhibits actual people are performing work, play and the customs of a rural family between the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers in the mid-19th century (1850s). What we experienced today was a blending of artifacts, restored historic structures, and traditional activities that replicated the rich heritage of farming in the decade prior to the Civil War (1860's).

Before walking down to the "Home Place" we walked around the "Home Place" museum which was a typical sterile museum but a very good one detailing activities around the old farms.

Dried string beans

Dried string beans





One exhibit that caught my eye was "dried string beans". I had never heard of "dried string beans". I thoroughly read how the women would take a needle and string and put fresh string beans on the string. They just ran the needle & string through the middle of the bean then hung them up to dry. The article said that it took time to "reconstitute" the string beans when it was time to eat them. I was not catching on to this idea. I eat dried pinto beans, kidney beans, limas and such but dried string beans was a new concept. Not to despair, a man my age stepped up and said that his parents used to string beans up and dry them. He was familiar with the procedure. He said that even though they put the string beans up in the pod as they dried the tiny peas fell out and they only cooked the tiny peas not the entire pea & pod like normal or fresh string beans. If you want to see a picture of dried string beans on a pod it will be on with this travelogue on my website when I get it there. There is no telling what you will learn in one of these places. If you would like to share information on hanging string beans up to dry then reconstituting them later I sure would like to know more.

I was intrigued with the ingenious lathe for turning table legs and farm implements. Joyce got caught up in a quilting demonstration by two ladies dressed in period attire. Children were interested in the free range chicken and ducks.

The farm livestock were representative of those found on a farm in the 1850s. Sheep, oxen, pigs, draft horses, free range chickens, geese and ducks were some of the animals we saw.

What you see when you visit one of these "Living History" demonstrations depends on the season you drop by. In the spring you may see seeds being sown, young animals being born, sheep shearing and things like that. In the summer you may expect to see vegetables being picked, farm implements being made, preserving fresh vegetables, corn shucking and other summer activities. Fall would be time to gather the corn, butcher the animals, the fresh pork must be salted then smoked in a time honored process, and those type activities. Winter found these folks hunting wild game and tanning the hides.

In the 1850s every homestead had an orchard with peaches, pears, plums and a variety of apples. Likewise, a good homestead had to have a "springhouse". A clean, cold spring was a major consideration in the selection of a good farm site. Used not only for a source for fresh water, the spring provided a solution to the difficult problem of storing perishables in the summer months. Milk, butter, and cream were placed in stoneware crocks and set into the pool of cool water or on shelves fitted into the sides of the building.

The average farmer in this area owned about 30 hogs. Typically, these animals roamed loose through the woods, foraging for a "mast" of acorn, chestnut, or hickory nuts. Owners identified their hogs by cutting a pattern of ear notches and turned them loose for most of the year. In the fall, hogs were rounded up and some were fattened on corn for winter slaughter.

Everyone had to have a chicken house. Chicken houses were necessary protection from night predators for all foul, which included chickens, roosters, ducks, geese, turkeys, and guineas. The fowl had free range over the farm and hillsides but were put up at dusk. Fried fowl was a welcome change to a steady diet of salt pork. Surplus eggs were often bartered or sold. This provided farm women with income for household necessities.

The vegetable garden was a necessity. As the family's main source of produce, a large garden was planted with beans, peas, turnips, sweet potatoes, squash, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, parsnips and cucumbers. Farm women air-dried, sun-dried, salted, sugared, or pickled with vinegar, preserving fruits and vegetables for the winter. Root vegetables were stored in a root cellar or buried below the frost line, to keep food throughout the winter and spring.

As always Joyce and I took in all that there was. I am fascinated by such things. Those old timers were ingenious.

Iron Kettle Restaurant in Land of the Lakes Kentucky





We did dinner again at the Iron Kettle. Last night their "exotic" dish was roast buffalo tonight it was fried frog legs. Frog legs are OK but nothing to compare with the roast buffalo. I have enjoyed the fresh pole beans and consider them as special as either the buffalo or frog legs.







Buffalo in pasture at Land Betweeen the Lakes, Kentucky



After leaving the Home Place we drove to the south Buffalo pasture and watched the heard of buffalo before heading back.



Tomorrow morning we are heading to Fort Defiance at Cairo, Illinois. Fort Defiance is located at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Lewis & Clark spent time at Fort Defiance before heading up the Mississippi to St Louis. Floating down the Ohio River with the current was a piece of cake. Working their craft upstream against the current of the mighty Mississippi will prove to be a bigger task than they had planned for.

Sunday July 18, 2004 Trail of Tears State Park--Cape Girardeau, Missouri: N37° 27.257': W89° 27.778' $12.00 for 30amps no water but central dump. Full hookup was available for more $$--nice campground.

We slept late then headed to Fort Defiance State Park, Illinois. Our plan was to spend the night in Fort Defiance then head up the Mississippi River toward St Lewis tomorrow.


Mike & Joyce Hendrix

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Until next time remember how good life is.

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Mike & Joyce Hendrix

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