Tag Archives: shaker village

Shaker village barn part 2…. in which I converse with my people.

 

We spent a lot of time in that beautiful barn.

 

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And if you were paying attention during that riveting pig video in the previous post, you noticed some rather strange background noise…

 

 

Not what you expect to hear while trying to tiptoe through the cow pies, but it was fascinating all the same.

“An installation that offers visitors an immersive musical experience featuring some of the Shakers’ oldest melodies or, as they called them, ‘solemn songs’. (Solemn songs are textless melodies – without harmony or counterpoint – used in early Shaker worship from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.)”

“An integral part of the rural landscape, the two wooden silos, erected in 1908, stored feed corn for livestock. While many wooden silos across America have succumbed to disrepair or suburban sprawl (they haven’t been built since 1942, when fiberglass silos were introduced), the two at Hancock Shaker Village stand tall as ‘silent sentinels,’ beautiful icons of the culture of rural preservation and farming in America.”

 

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Moving on, we headed outside.

 

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Where the husband found an old implement he had to play with….

 

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And I found my people next to the manure spreader.

 

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Some were sunbathing…

 

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Others were hanging out with turkeys.  (No, I’m not talking about the husband.)

And we’re walking…

 

 

Clearly I missed my calling, and could have been a poultry manager in an earlier life.

 

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The next barn wasn’t nearly as impressive….

 

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But the husband still managed to ignore the do not touch signs and get into trouble.

 

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There was an old car…

 

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An an old sign.

 

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An old building…

 

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Which housed the old store…

 

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As well as an old living room…

 

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With an old television.

 

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I can’t imagine watching Game Of Thrones on that. Heck, the dragons would only be an inch and a half tall.

 

 

Where’s the fun in that?

 

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Entering another workshop building we found….

 

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A giant cider press.

 

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The weaving room.

 

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The broom room.

 

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And the basket room.

If they used it, they made it.

A society of Friends, remember? No sex. They had plenty of time on their hands.

And as we were leaving?

 

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We met an employee who’s sole job was to care for chickens.

Sit on a bench, in the sun, and pet a chicken all day.

I am totally qualified for that position.

Sign me up!

 

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Chicken duly met and petted, we left Hancock Shaker village with a finer appreciation of the simple things in life.

 

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Community…

Hard work…

Fresh air….

Chickens!

But not celibacy.

I don’t need that much simplicity….

 

Barn envy.

 

It’s a terrible thing, but we had it…. because this was a very special barn.

 

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It was massive, beautiful and pretty much dominated the Hancock Shaker Village landscape.

 

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The original structure was a calf barn built in 1880, but it burnt to the ground in 1910 and this was the glorious replacement.

 

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Structurally, it’s a wonder.

 

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And if I had been a cow back then,  (opposed to the cow I am now)  I’d have considered myself fortunate to live there.

 

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Hell, throw in a few scatter rugs and a frozen margarita blender….  I’d live there now.

 

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Those Shaker builders knew their stuff.

 

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5 stories of wonderful is what it was.

 

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The husband may have been walking around with his mouth open, I’m not sure.

 

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But when we heard that the sanitary commission of the 1930’s forbade the farmers to actively use and house cows there due to the wooden floors, we almost wept.

 

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What a waste.

 

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So an ell was added on… with concrete floors, and I made some new friends.

 

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Including a chicken who clearly ignores signs.

 

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And to continue my tradition of riveting video clips…

I give you Pig Washing Beets.

 

 

 

Never let it be said we don’t know how to have a good time on vacation.

 

 

 

 

More Hancock Shakers….

 

The second building we toured was the living quarters of the Brothers, Sisters and Elders.

 

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Everything was segregated by sex…. even the stairways were separate.

Everyone was busy, and everyone had a job.

 

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The women sewed clothing.

 

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The men made shoes.

 

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The women grew herbs and mixed their own medicines….

 

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As well as ran a simple hospital.

 

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The men made traditional boxes…

 

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And furniture.

I’m pretty sure everyone did this:

 

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The beds didn’t look very comfortable…

 

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And there was a lot of praying.

 

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Probably for a queen size Serta pillow soft, but that might just have been me.

 

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It’s hard for me to believe 300 people in the prime of their lives lived and worked together without ever being more than Friends.

But I could sure use a Shaker woman or two to come clean my house.

I certainly don’t have all that pent up energy to waste.

 

Hancock Shaker Village

 

After the frigid air on top of Mt. Greylock, we were happy to spend the rest of day 4 of the Berkshire vacation down on the valley floor. Having heard wonderful things about the authentic and fully restored village of the Shakers… we headed there.

We were also starving, so we were glad to find they had a cafe on site.

 

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It was a cute little place called Seeds, with all the food being organic and locally sourced. Many of the fruits and vegetables from the farm itself.

 

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The seats were handmade, traditionally Shaker in style and surprisingly comfortable.

 

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The menu was a little kale and quinoa heavy for my taste…

 

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But the sandwiches were tasty and the salads crisp and fresh.

 

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Thus fortified, we entered the village.

 

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It’s a large lovely place, full of history and tours we didn’t have the time to take.

 

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A little background:

Hancock was the third among the nineteen major Shaker communities established between 1783 and 1836 in New York, New England, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.

The Shaker population reached its peak in the mid-19th century, with an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 members. More than 300 Shakers lived at Hancock during it’s peak. Today, the Shakers only remain active at Sabbathday Lake in Maine, with two Believers.

The Shakers are a religion of friends, and do not engage in sex.

Not too hard to imagine why the idea died out.

 

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This was a beautiful place to tour….

 

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With the dominant feature being the amazing circular stone barn.

 

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The community was entirely self sufficient, and the first building we entered was the big red one in the back.

 

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Laundry was a bit more labor intensive in those days….

 

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And the husband was all for getting me one of these.

 

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That contraption was for heating the irons, with the table behind being the board.

 

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The entire community took meals together, so the kitchen was impressive.

 

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And like most of the village, the pieces are an antique collector’s dream.

 

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Yes, the husband was drooling.

 

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There was a room for everything.

 

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And it was all efficiently laid out.

 

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Simple, quality workmanship.

 

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The buildings were well crafted, filled with natural light and beyond solid.

Apparently the Shaker women were fanatical house cleaners, sweeping and scrubbing nonstop.

But hey, they were celibate.

What else were they gonna do?