Celebrate Agrarian Heritage

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The fact that most of us have become city kiddies belies our agrarian roots. Only a few generations back our ancestors led self-sufficient lives on farms. When massive numbers migrated to cities during the Industrial Revolution, family farms still drew people to visit from time to time.

Now our immediate ancestors are more likely to have an urban background, and family farms are fading, so who has farms to return to?

Some kids have never seen nor sniffed a cow up close and personal, nor plucked a warm egg from a hen’s nest nor picked and eaten a fresh ear of corn in a field. Some of us probably have not done these things in a long time because we just aren’t as close to the land as we once were.

If your ancestors worked the land and no living relatives do now, you may have to be a bit more creative about including ancestral agrarian pursuits to add interest and educational value to your reunion.

In all fairness, and to bring this to a contemporary point, if there are tours of large corporate farms they are well worth the time to see how our food starts. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a working farm or exhibits that include demonstrations of milking, (sheep) shearing, egg gathering – things farmers take for granted. You may even encounter some fascinating creatures you know little about such as llamas, ostriches and buffalo all part of modern agri-businesses. Even fish farms may have tours.

Rural communities have many farm-related county fairs and festivals as events that differ from theme parks and cities. Reunions in autumn can enjoy harvest festivals as well.

Historians and historical societies had the foresight to preserve farms and displays, and some offer re-enactments of farm life from earlier eras. Elmer Pavlis, Buckley, Michigan, has farmed since he was 13 and started collecting shortly thereafter. He has collected gadgets, trinkets and tools dating from colonial times to the early 20th century and displays an extraordinary assemblage at This Ole Farm Museum. He is the tour guide and renowned for how much history he knows about all the tools and yesterday’s rural life. The farm museum is at 11459 Pavlis Rd., Buckley, Michigan. Reservations are necessary for a tour; call 231-269-3672.

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