Monday, June 29, 2009

Claude Moore Colonial Farm

The only thing separating our neighborhood and Langley (CIA Headquarters) is a little patch of land called Claude Moore Colonial Farm. This area is set up to recreate the life of a poor family living on a tenant farm during the Colonial period, 1771 to be exact. I took the boys there last week and was impressed with the questions Atley asked the farm family and the lengths that the actors went to in their attempt to create an authentic experience for their visitors.

The boys initial reaction to the experience was complete shock and horror. Atley got big tears in his eyes when he realized that the people were not wearing shoes. He timidly asked them why and they explained to him that they were too poor to wear shoes in the summer and that they were saving their shoes for winter. He was also surprised to see the children working along side the adults, that of course, was my favorite part.

It was obvious that cotton was not king in northern Virginia during the colonial period, rather tobacco was the cash crop. The above pictures show Atley next to a young tobacco plant (when mature the plant will be more than five feet tall) and the boys in front of the Tobacco house where the tobacco is dried.

This is a typical tenant farmer's home during the colonial period. This one room home housed seven family members. The yearly rent on the farm was 500 lbs. of tobacco. The family was quite concerned that with the unusually large amount of rain we have received this year that they would be unable to have a successful tobacco crop and therefore unable to make rent.

When the family sat down for their mid-day meal Atley began grilling them with questions. Question #1: Where are your neighbors? Reply: Our closest neighbors are about a two hour walk and we have to walk everywhere because we do not own a horse. Question #2: Where do you go to church? Reply: In Falls Church. One member of our family is required by law to attend church at least once per month, but it is a full days walk to attend, so we do not go often. Question #3: Well, if you don't have neighbors and you don't go to church how do you make friends or get married? Reply: HA, HA, HA!

Question #4: Don't you have any mosquito spray for all of these bugs? Reply: They don't bother us too much because we wear long clothes that cover most of our skin. Atley's Reply: Wow, I'm sure glad I have enough money to buy bug spray so I can wear shorts and not those crazy clothes you're wearing. By the way, Nash was out of commission for the interviewing process because he was whacked in the head by a cast iron skillet while chasing the chickens as the family members were bringing food to the table.

Growing up in such a rural area I never dreamed I would actually pay money for my own children to see a farm, but it was a learning experience for all of us and I am coming to terms with the fact that my children are city slickers. Even more importantly I gained much more gratitude for the blessing of living in modern times.

1 comment:

The King Family said...

Your kids are sure lucky that you guys have access to those kinds of neat things. Atley is such a smart kid, hope Nash is feeling better.