All Brewer Historical Society members are welcome to come to The Curran Homestead Living History Farm and Museum's first annual ice-harvesting re-enactment on Fields Pond in Orrington this Sunday, February 15, 2009. I have been crossing my fingers that there isn't too much melting before that date arrives. The ice was about 24 inches thick a lttle more than a week ago when I checked with some fisherman out on the pond, but we've had some relatively warm days since then...
“On Sunday, February 15, from 2 to 4 PM, we’ll go out on Fields Pond in Orrington and harvest a block of ice” according to Dr. Robert Schmick, The Curran Homestead’s Volunteer Director of Education Programs. “This will be a first for the Curran Homestead Living History Farm and Museum, so it is intended to be informal and experimental rather than a formal historical re-enactment. Using authentic ice harvesting tools from our collection, and substitutions for those we don't presently have (and seek for future annual harvesting), we will cut a block of ice from Fields Pond and transport it up the hill to the kitchen of the Curran House where it will be placed in our vintage oak and zinc-lined ice box for the first time in many decades,” Schmick added.
The Curran family once harvested ice from Fields Pond in Orrington, ME. Many Maine farmers similarly utilized what ice they had on their property for personal and commercial purposes. At the beginning of the 19th century, ice harvesting was the seventh largest industry in the US with New England exporting their renowned clear ice blocks to such exotic destinations as the Caribbean and India.
Schmick added “this is foremost a learning experience for us and for those who join us. We welcome those people who have first-hand experiences with, or information about, ice-harvesting, and we’d look forward to any sharing of experience. We’ll have a warming center in our Sugar Shack at the farm where hot cocoa will be available. There is no admission charge, but donations are always welcomed.”
As background, Schmick said, “The Currans were among the sturdiest of a strong breed of farmers who settled on the rocky New England hillsides during the 19th Century. They gave thrift, frugality and industry a new meaning even among a people known for those values.”
John Mugnai, The Curran Homestead Board President, stated “the goal of our project is to demonstrate for future generations the virtues of self-reliance, cooperation, industry and thrift which reflect the traditional American values practiced when our society was predominantly rural. By showing the earlier technology, we can demonstrate for young minds, and recall to older minds, how rural America lived off the land.”
“The mission of The Curran Homestead is to enrich the lives of our children, offer our community many opportunities for wholesome family fun, and serve as an excellent educational resource through museum displays and hands-on activities and programs” added Mugnai.
For more information contact:
Robert Schmick (207) 843-5550