West of Austin, Texas, near Stonewall, is an historic farm I thoroughly enjoyed visiting. Of course I would love it – it’s a farm, after all! Anybody who knows me, knows I love rural living.
The Living History Farm at the LBJ State Park consists of an old stone cottage, a more “modern” Victorian home, a beautiful barn, and chickens. Lots of chickens. The park interpreters wear period clothing and do all the farm and household chores as they were done in the late 1800’s – early 1900’s.
The area was settled by German immigrants in the mid-1800’s. Typically, they’d start off their homestead by building a modest log cabin. When possible, they later quarried local limestone to create additions or new homes similar to the hewed-stone architecture common in their homeland, Germany.
I’m completely addicted to the TV show Barnwood Builders, so have learned there’s an art to filling in the gaps between logs, or chinking. I was fascinated to learn at the Living Farm cabin that unique to the Germans was the method of adding small rocks between the logs when they added the mortar. I wish I knew what kind of trees they used for these logs:
Canned goods and the butter churn:
I love thick walls and deep window sills. I don’t know why the jug is wrapped in cloth. Maybe to soak up condensation? If anybody knows the answer to this, please leave a comment!
The interpreters actually make the lye soap used for all sorts of cleaning. And for getting rid of lice. After learning about the process, which involved rendering beef or pork fat, soaking wood ash, and then cooking and stirring the concoction in huge vats for who-know-how-long, I’m left grateful that I can simply grab cleaning products off the shelf whenever I need them.
The back of the cabin shows clearly the stone addition to the original log structure.
In a future post I’ll show you how the next generation was able to prosper and build a Victorian-style home.