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https://i2.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8482/8239978492_81e339d5fe_n.jpgThis is the house at the farm museum where we went to work on Sunday. That bright orange under the window is squash. The part painted red is an office addition and not interpreted space.

This is the view from the site.https://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8062/8238909459_f9165ff136_n.jpg It is not exactly what the tenant farmers would have seen, even discounting the power lines and road surface.   But even with the caveats of constant change in mind, I do not have access to a better lab for understanding the past. There are times when even the smart and sophisticated among us cannot come up with a better (just between us) interpretation than, “1799 sucked. And it was greasy.”

https://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8210/8238912881_454a7e8b67_n.jpgThat’s not what we want the visitor to learn (everything in the past was hard) though sometimes I fear that is all they take away. Callie, seen here swearing in my hand, was trying to take away leftover chicken and so was taken away herself.

The more time I spend stooping to reach a vat of tallow, or tearing a chicken carcass apart with my hands and a dull, greasy knife, the more I think that what we fail to grasp is not that people thought differently in the past. It’s why they thought differently.

Lives could be a great deal smaller: tasks were hard and all-consuming. Even as I realized that work would be faster with greater familiarity, I also saw that repetition would not breed enlightenment, because increased speed would only make the next task come more quickly.