There are a few tiny hints of Spring peaking through here at the Shaker site, reminding us of the warmth to come. The longer days and seemingly brighter sunshine are encouraging as well. For the Shakers that lived here in the nineteenth century, the end of March was spent in a variety of ways. Its seems that it was a good opportunity to finish major indoor tasks, such as carding (brushing) the wool and hetcheling (combing) the flax (linen).
28 March 1837 – The sisters in general to carding and hetcheling. We have above 300 weight to hetchel. The sisters card today 42 pounds.
30 March 1837 – We finish hetcheling and the sisters have carded 48 pounds.
The month of March was also used by the journal keeper, Phoebe Ann Buckingham, to catch up on her basket making.
28 March 1845 – I finish 4 dozen baskets for sale and 6 for home use.
Spring was also the time when the last fruits and vegetables from the autumn harvest were used up, in preparation for the fresh foods that would eventually be available in the gardens.
Phoebe Ann Buckingham playfully (and poetically) wrote of this in 1840.
31 March 1840 –
There is a little thing which I am going to tell,
Do you know what it is on which I do dwell?
It is not anything new or strange I shall say
It is – I have made the last green apple pies today.
She continued the next day with…
1 April 1840 –
And that is not all that I am going to say
But this is not on the self same day
But that’s no matter, for you shall see
Tonight that spoon cakes they shall be.
If you are looking for your own signs of spring, we encourage you to head over to our friends at the Shaker Shed Farm and Market. Today is their first day of the season. They have a great cafe and bakery, home goods and many lovely flowers and plants. The business is located on land that was originally owned by the West Family Shakers. While at the cafe and farm, be sure to look up the hill to see some original Shaker buildings. (However, we ask that you respect the privacy of the landowners by remaining in the public areas around the cafe, as these structures and the land are now privately owned.)
Remember, it will be only a few weeks until the herb garden here at the Shaker Heritage Society begins to look like this…