Howell Living History Farm: farming in the 1900s, 30 minutes from Princeton

This wonderful farm is only 30 minutes by car from our current home in Princeton, New Jersey.

Young child by a wood fence in front of a green meadow full of dandelions
Little M, the green pastures and the grazing lamb.

The mission of the working farm is to recreate life in the 1890-1910, to learn about the tools used then, the animals raised, and the way things were generally run and organized.
The Howell Living History Farm is run mostly by volunteers, and it’s free!

Father and child walk by big red barns
Red barns in the Howell Living History Farm

There are programs on most Saturdays throughout the year for visitors to lend a hand: maple sugaring,  ice harvesting,  potato planting , hayrides and even a corn maze in the summer. They also offer multiple-day programs for children 3 and up as a fun introduction to farm work.

We visited on Potato Planting day. Two sets of strong work horses pulled plows, with one or two people holding steady the heavy metal artifact and/or the reins. The plow made the rows where the volunteers rushed to plant pieces of potatoes.The horses then made new rows next to the last one, now full of potato cuttings, covering the freshly planted tubers with soil.

The faces of two horses and a child’s hand reaching to pet their noses

Two work horses in a field

Young child grabbing stones in a creek

We had a great time as a family. Little M loved getting her hands in the soil,  carrying her own potato bucket and working side by side with other kids and adults.

The farm also has lamb, chickens, oxen, geese and pigs. There were many fluffy and playful baby lamb that were close enough to touch behind a wooden fence. The horses too were gentle and accepting of the running, screaming kids.

An antique chariot in a barn

Two brown bulls in a field

For our little M it was a thrill to pet the humongous sweet-eyed horses, to carry her bucketful of potato cuttings and her own measuring stick for proper positioning on the soil, to approach the baby lamb and watch them eye to eye, to run around the green pastures and blow as many dandelion seeds as possible.

Child planting potato cuttings in the soil with a wooden spacer
Planting the potato : mesure the distance with the spacing stick, put potato cut side down, and repeat!

Child planting potato cuttings in a field Child and adult in a field planting potato cuttings

We returned to the farm recently for the Honey Harvest. We were able to see the whole process and left with local raw clover honey.

The loaded panels from a wooden beehive being removed
We didn’t see the process of removing the beehives from their location on the field. Here the pannels are being taken out one by one.
Two men scrape the surface wax from a pannel of the beehive to extract honey
Scraping a thin outer layer of wax to get to the honey
A metal centrifuge device for beehive panels in use
The device used to centrifuge the honey out of the pannel. It then oozes out of a pipe at the bottom.
Golden honey dripping out of a metal centrifuge device
Honey pouring out of the centrifuge device.
Honey being filtered through a metal sieve into a metal pan
Filtering the honey though two sives. It was then poured directly into glass jars, ready to eat.

The weather was really hot and the little stream was a great relief. It was full of crayfish.

A small creek in the shade of a little wooden bridge
A cool respite from the summer sun

Child running on pebbles by a creek

Child pumping water from antique water pump and horses drinking
Little M is getting water for the horses
Corn for the animals
Volunteers and farm cat dressed in period clothes
Sheep sleeping cuddled together under the shade of a tree

We were all looking for some shelter from the bright summer sun
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