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Highlights Archives

Experience 'Life on the Farm' 19th-Century Style


A young girl wearing the "Hannah" biography card splits wood with a froe and mallet

Visitors to Old World Wisconsin can now experience "Life on the Farm" firsthand and discover what life was really like working and living on a farm in the Upper Midwest in the 19th century. The Koepsell Farm in the German area of the outdoor museum will be the scene for this new daily family friendly, hands-on experience. Visitors will step into the characters of six real-life German immigrant farmers, the Kruegers, and do the same kinds of farm chores the Kruegers did in the 1880s on their farm near Watertown.

Making a Connection to Our Agrarian Past

Arriving guests will receive a biography card. There are six cards in all; each tells the story of a different member of the Krueger family who performed many of the same tasks visitors will experience. Exploring 'Life on the Farm' through the lens of these inspirational, everyday figures who shaped life in Wisconsin's German farm community will help today's guests make a very real connection to our agrarian past.

Farming Experience Varies with the Seasons

Every day guests can stop by the farm to try one of many chores that change by the day and the season. They may don a pair of wooden barn shoes and might help muck the barn's stalls, milk cows or move straw for bedding. They can put on an apron and may be asked to help make butter, roll out pie dough, beat rugs or piece quilt squares. Just as it was for early Midwestern immigrants, the work will vary by season — gardening and planting in spring; dairy work, canning and field work in summer; and harvesting hops and making apple cider in fall. This will offer many changing experiences for visitor participation.

Reproductions of original artifacts will allow visitors to actually use the tools available to our 19th-century ancestors. Visitors will be able to interact with a rotating collection of young farm animals in a shed where guests will learn more about the animals' habits and care from farm staff.

The First in a Series of New Experiences

The Society's Forward! Campaign funded this engaging new initiative, which is part of the Old World Wisconsin multi-year Master Plan. "Life on the Farm is the first in a series of new experiences designed to make a visit to Old World Wisconsin more interactive, fun and memorable for all ages," said the museum's director Dan Freas.

:: Posted June 11, 2012

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