Camp Rowan Museum: A century of farm life, milling and food – Salisbury Post

Tricia Denton Creel opened the Rowan Museum’s latest summer camp by asking students “What is a sucker?”

The answer is someone who grinds grain into flour, and grain processing has a local history in Rowan County. The last camp was on July 20 at the China Grove Roller Mill.

Educators Amy Pruitt and Terry Holt presented the first in a series of cards that have changed over time. They pointed out how the Occaneechi Native American Trail became the Great Wagon Road.

As he described the route further, Holt asked if any camper knew what route it might be now. “I-85,” a student replied, raising his hand excitedly. This brought up the familiar phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

It was time to go to the company store. The students put away the toys they used to play with like spinning tops, a kaleidoscope and wooden hens pecking corn. Toys represented a simpler time when toys were powered by humans, before batteries.

Goodman’s Farm Supply was a feast for the eyes. They had everything imaginable for farmers and homeowners. Large bags of animal feed included grains like corn and oats.

Austin asked, “Do horses eat hay too?” The kids spotted bird feeders, toys, and even what was called a “rolly” thing for picking up pecans. Zoey was fascinated with all the hummingbird feeding supplies. Morgan wanted to understand why they were selling chickens. The tour guide introduced her to the hobby of raising chickens for eggs.

Blane Morgan, a customer at the store, was amused by the children’s fascination with the store. He said he read about history camps in the Post.

Back at the roller mill, the children learned how busy it was 24 hours a day, seven days a week, supplying flour for both world wars. Museum board member and retired factory worker James Miller led a tour of the factory’s operations. A student asked him if he was ever bored there.

“Never,” he said. “I appreciated the communion with the farmers. He never aged. There was something new every day. I hope the community will continue to support the mill. It is a landmark. »

He taught campers how first horses and buggies, then trucks would bring in wheat and dump it into a pit. Then the wheat traveled from place to place to separate the wheat from the chaff.

As part of the visit, the students discovered the weather chart where hail, snow and rain were recorded. Campers especially enjoyed learning about baseball-sized hail.

The students recorded the day’s weather in a diary using modern technology. Discussions focused on why there were fewer accidents in roller mills than in cotton mills. The campers built on their previous knowledge of children working in the mills. Fewer accidents came from a combination of adults managing the carpentry and learning from the past.

It was time to get ready for lunch which included cookie making. In previous camps, receipts were called receipts. This changed at the turn of the century. The students wrote cooking secrets or tips for success on their recipes.

The secrets were to cut the butter into pea-sized pieces with a pastry cutter and brush milk on top to make the bread golden. The students particularly enjoyed measuring, science and cookie baking.

Camryn answered the question why we don’t cut cookies on the edge. “You can make more cookies if you don’t start in the middle.”

The students received chicken pot pie, cookies and slices of local tomatoes. Some veteran campers said they came back just for the pie. They brought home recipes with projects to share with their grandmothers and parents. The real excitement followed when the announcement came, “save your spoons”.

Homemade Cheerwine ice cream was served for dessert. After lunch, extension officer Toi Degree taught the students about canning.

“To know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been,” Degree said.

She related the history of the process up to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1809. The first canning was done with wax and wiring. Taught diploma on safety, cleanliness and safety in the canning process.

Of course, when she mentioned the canned jam, the students brought up the cookies and how tasty the jam would be with the cookies.

“I like your way of thinking,” she said.

Students also learned about pork processing, free rural mail delivery and designed their own stamp. They sang “Là-bas” in tribute to the troops that the mill fed during the war. They imagined the song played on the radio while the workers ran the mill.

Julie Caldwell from the North Carolina Farm Bureau taught about land, workers, crops, machinery and supplies. The students acted out scenarios where they were the farmers making the decisions. They put themselves in the place of those who provide us with food.

Then Caldwell taught planting with soil, seeds and water. Students will grow their own sunflower seeds at home. She gave them mugs and sunglasses which they proudly modeled in the group photo. The students took home cooler bags provided by Agriculture in the Classroom and NC Real Dairy producers.

For all their work, the students won gold certificates reminiscent of the era. They ended the day with egg relays using balloons. No “eggs” were broken in the game. It was a great way to spend a hot summer day.

The roller mill started in 1903, so this monument tells a long story. As Tina Cook of the Goodman store said, “There’s something here for everyone.”

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