Thursday, May 31, 2012

Saw Mary Ingles Farm, of "Follow the River" fame

    She had her work cut out for her, traveling hundreds of miles on foot to get away from the Shawnee Indians who captured her, her sons and her sister-in-law. Mary Ingles' trials as she walked and "followed" the Ohio and New Rivers, has been memorialized in a book and movies, and the homestead she eventually came back to was actually pretty darn close to the New River. And her descendants like to show off this farm to the public.
    On May 27 we visited the Ingles Farm (west Radford, VA) and saw what it was like to live in colonial times. Visiting a tourist attraction that informs one of the good ol' days makes one realize it wasn't always that good -- it could be hard work. But then, there was no TV in colonial times, no radio, Internet or movies. They amused themselves with handmade toys, like something with wood and cloth that turned back and forth called "Jacob's ladder," and carved tops and cloth little dolls. The mothers actually showed the very little ones, male and female alike, how to start sewing just a few stitches at a time, and things got more complicated as time wore on. I think they stressed patience more in the good ol' days.
    It certainly took patience to see one of the Ingles descendants using these big shears and cutting off sheep wool by hand. He needed an assistant to keep this one sheep down -- guess he was young and impatient himself! I took a piece of wool; it's very wavy and even a bit wiry, probably healthier than all this dang polyester (manmade) material we depend on now.
    What was really interesting was this business of flax. I didn't know flax, grown as a crop, took a long time to dry out and thin out and then be made into thread for linen. The demonstrator pointed out that "now," we eat the flaxseed and the hemp they used so much of back then for different items (like rope) we now like to smoke! But there is an industrial kind of hemp, which is not marijuana, they should allow to be used in different processes today. Oil doesn't need to be used in everything!
    In the cabin the real tale of Mary Ingles was told while sitting in the cabin which has been recreated from the original foundation. All in all, a very scenic and sunny experience good for young and old alike.

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