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EXPLORE AMERICA: The Farmers’ Museum

New York’s agricultural heritage still gobbles, quacks, and moos at The Farmers’ Museum. The original stone barn houses changing exhibitions, but the real action is outside at any of the 26 structures moved to the site to show what a farm and small village looked like. Costumed interpreters carry out daily tasks such as heating the spider (a covered iron skillet on legs) over an open hearth, pouring in shortbread batter, and moving it back over the coals–in long skirts despite the 90 degree air temperature generated by the fire. A straw-hatted farmer shoos the Narragansett turkeys around their yard. Devon cattle lounge in the Sweet-Marble barn. Blacksmiths work the huge bellows during demonstrations. When the chores are done, kids repair to the relatively recently built Empire State Carousel to ride 24 hand-carved animals. The animals are native to New York; the frieze about the animals depicts famous New Yorkers such as Teddy Roosevelt. Watch out for the flock of black chickens roaming the grounds. Before leaving, shop the museum store. The pewterware looks authentic (candelabra for $200); the reproduction pen and inkwell sets ($52) look like exhibits at first. But they can be taken home.

The Farmers’ Museum is located at 5775 NY 80, Cooperstown, New York. Telephone (888) 547-1450. http://www.farmersmuseum.org

Photo credit: ©Rand McNally/Nathalie Strassheim

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