Last weekend I took a trip to Michigan for a few days. A highlight of the trip was a visit to a farm museum in Dearborn--Greenfield Village. The place itself is more than farm, however; it's an odd and bustling tribute to Henry Ford's vision of American ingenuity and inventiveness, with some traditional technologies like farming, milling, wool carding, and pottery mixed in. (The Library has plenty of books about Greenfield Village and its history available if you are interested in this open-air museum's collection.)
I will be the first to admit that I am a farm museum junkie. I love greeting the cows and sheep, and learning about agricultural history and heirloom plants. These places also allow you to get a bit closer than one usually does in daily life to the sources of what we eat and what we wear. Here's one of the many friendly and woolly sheep at Greenfield (that's a 19th c. cider mill in the background).
And speaking of wool, a Greenfield guide stationed in a 17th c. American farmhouse demonstrated wool dying techniques of that time. And another staff member kindly explained how not one but two different types of spinning wheels worked. I was especially grateful to her for this demonstration, because I've been reading about spinning wheels in Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's excellent The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth and I have been struggling to picture how just how they worked. Now I understand, thanks to this kind guide.