A winter’s day on the farm

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By Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor

Messenger photos by Rick Palsgrove
These milking short horn cows at Metro Parks’ Slate Run Living Historical Farm seem to be saying, “What are ‘moo’ looking at?” to the camera on a frigid January day. Slate Run Living Historical Farm farmer Mike Huels said in the 1880s this type of cow was used for both dairy and beef.

This winter had been somewhat mild with many days with temperatures in the 40 degree range, which for some Ohioans is still t-shirt and shorts weather.

But, by mid-January, dreaded arctic cold reached down into Ohio with its icy grip. So, in our winter madness my friend Marie Kujawski and I thought, what a nice day to go for a walk at Metro Parks’ Slate Run Living Historical Farm!

The farm, which is a bustling place in the spring, summer, and fall, is quiet in winter. There are few visitors and much of the agricultural work has slowed.

Turkeys crowd together in the turkey pen.

Still, the place remains a place that can delight one’s senses.

As we walked the path toward the farmhouse, the only sound we heard was that of our feet scuffing the ground.

Marie noted how the farmhouse looks like a family homestead from a simpler time.

“There’s no modern intrusion here,” she said.

Slate Run Living Historical Farm farmer Mike Huels took some time to repair the door on the turkey pen. Huels said winter on the farm is a time for farm workers to make repairs. He also said the farm workers plan on building a new wooden wagon this winter to use on the farm.

The wind had a cold bite, so I plunged my gloved hands deeper into my heavy coat. Marie nestled further into her warm coat.

Slowly more sounds were audible. A wooden fence gate creaked in the wind. Chickens clucked as they foraged. The sound of the stream that flows through the farm, not yet frozen, softly rippled.

Marie noted some gentle smells wafting in the wintry air of the farm – hay, burnt wood, manure…

“It’s an aroma of sweet earthiness,” said Marie.

There was so much to see and drink in. The brown hues of the fields biding their time till spring planting. A grape arbor waiting out the winter. The well cared for farmhouse, barn, and outbuildings. Best of all there were the animals.

As we came upon the barn, some cows were braced against the cold wind. When I took their photo they gave me a look that seemed to say, “What are ‘moo’ looking at?”

My ears picked up the fluttering of bird wings as the feathered friends swooped into the barn to feast on cobs of corn hanging from the ceiling.

Then in the general silence, the “tap, tap, tap” of hammer on nail could be heard coming from the turkey pen. The sound came from Slate Run Living Historical Farm farmer Mike Huels who was repairing the door to the turkey pen.

“Winter’s a time when we can do some small repairs around the farm,” said Huels. “We also plan to build a wooden wagon to use here on the farm.”

I asked Huels about the cows I photographed.

“Those are milking short horn cows,” said Huels. “In the 1880s they were used for both dairy and beef.”

Leaving Huels to his work and bidding farewell to a flock of friendly bustling turkeys, we wandered over to some sheds and found a large, sleeping, hog nestled in straw and snoring away the winter’s day.

I looked about and noticed the circular dirt path, carved out by the hooves of horses, of the threshing area. This is a busy spot in summer filled with the sounds of the belt driven threshing machine at work, but now the area was empty and silent.

We stood and closed our eyes and listened. So much quiet, so much peace.

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