Get a Blast of the Past!
By Pam Teel
The Middle School 6th graders didn’t have far to walk as they headed across Baird Road to the Historic Baird Homestead and Cultural Resource Center in the beginning of June to learn about what it was like living in the past. Hosted by the Friends of Millstone Township Historical Registered Properties for a fourth year, the students got to partake in many hands-on activities and educational lectures that included a visit to the blacksmith’s barn, where the blacksmith and his helper discussed and demonstrated how tools were made before there were machines to make them.
The classes were broken up into smaller groups and the students took turns visiting the different stations that were set up on the homestead. In the Baird house, they learned about the history of the original owner Thomas Baird and what it was like to live in the 1800’s. They discussed the period furniture and the chores the people who lived there had to do to sustain their quality of life.
At The Story of Milk station, the students learned the job of a milkmaid, how they get milk from a cow, and how milk is churned into butter. At the plant station, they learned about plants and how to care for them. Each child got to pot his own vegetable plant to take home with him.
With seining nets and cups in hand, the students scooped water out of the pond and tested it for ph and nitrate levels. They also got to sample slides under a microscope in the microscope tent. The students also learned about how to use an apple press. They cut up their own apples and made their own cider.
Lastly, the students learned about animal husbandry and how an animal’s digestive system works. They got to physically interact with some sheep and a large bunny rabbit. The topics at the different stations coincided with the children’s lessons from class.
It was a great day to visit the homestead. Though the threat of rain loomed over the area, the students enjoyed being outdoors as they gathered on the front lawn and under the large trees to eat their lunch.
The Friends of Millstone Township Historic Registered Properties, Friends of MTHRP for short, is a 501C3 non-profit organization dedicated to fur- thering public interest in conservation, preservation, knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the history of Millstone Township.
On October 15, 2012 the Friends of MTHRP hit the ground running…and haven’t looked back since! This was the day the Thomas Baird House, 24 Baird Road, closed and the Friends became its caretakers. The Friends rallied the community and jumped in with both feet to improve the Baird Home- stead and began to ready it for visitors, community education and school programs. The TBH is an early 19th century home owned by Millstone Town- ship and financially supported solely through fundraising by the Friends group that has grown to include many generations of supporters.
The first seven years have been packed with excitement, unimagined growth, trials and dedication to their visions. Credit for the successes go to all the hardworking dedicated trustees, volunteers, tenacious planning, and completion of tasks and the ability to leverage their funds to achieve maximum effect.