Virtual Farmhouse Transcript
TAKE A TOUR (intro)
The farmhouses of yesterday may be
disappearing, but you can still take a
virtual farmhouse tour. This is a classic
L-house, so-called because the two rectangles
of the original house and kitchen
addition form an L shape. Click on the
floor plan to explore a room and listen to
the memories it holds.
The porch was a place that bridged
the comfort and security of the farmhouse
with the rigors and demands of
the outside. There is a sense of rest there,
and yet there is an invitation to join the
music of the fields that the farmer has
orchestrated. The farmhouse was most
commonly entered through the back
Historian Clifford Clark on how back porches were used:
"In a farmhouse, you often didn't use the front porch
at all, people came in through the kitchen. And often
there was a back porch. Back porch was very functional,
because - a place to leave your muddy boots, a place to
do some food preparation outside, so the back porch becomes
a sort of major entryway."
The kitchen was the most important
room in the house. It was the one place
on the farm that was active all day long,
from before dawn until bedtime. The
kitchen was the base of operations for
the entire workday - butchering, cooking,
eating, bathing and washing the clothes.
Poet Bill Holm on what kept folks in the kitchen:
"The kitchen, of course, was always the center of everything. You seldom got people out of the kitchen, it's a joke in Minnesota, and that was even more true in those old houses, because often the heat source was in the kitchen, so there was a practical reason for it. And you ask yourself, in a place with no wood, what did you put in your cookstove for heat? Well, they grew corn. Cobs were a source of heat. And I suppose in the very early days they must in fact have burned dried cow pies in the stove."
The parlor, also known as the living
room, was the most formal room of the
house. Photographs of relatives hung on
the walls; books and musical instruments
gave it a civilized feel. This is where
neighbors were entertained and played games.
Poet Bill Holm describes the living room:
"There was always in those old houses, it was a cliche but it was true - a living room. For company. You know, were everything was covered with little lace white doilies and coverlets, and there were pictures of dead relatives on the walls - nobody ever got in there."
Poet Bill Holm on the old upright pianos:
"The other thing, was almost every farmhouse - those miserable little farmhouses - had an old, upright piano. Probably hadn't been tuned since 1938, but you know, if you were persistent and you weren't too picky you could probably get a tune out of her."
Although there was usually a back bedroom
behind the living room, the primary
bedrooms were typically upstairs. Uninsulated
and rarely heated, they weren't
always the most comfortable rooms in the
house. A chamber pot in the bedroom
was preferable to a trip to the outhouse on
a cold or stormy night.
Farmer Vernon Lund remembers the cold nights:
"I used to sleep upstairs. No heat up there. I used to wake up, in the morning, with frost around and breathing around in the blankets you know, and oh I just hated to get up in the morning it was coooold."