This semester I have University of Saint Mary students participating in Service Learning at the Lansing Historical Museum.
Each student is required to spend 15 hours assisting with museum responsibilities.
The idea is the students learn how a small museum operates and in return the Museum receives assistance with projects.
There was quite a bit of learning going on this past month while the students and I worked on the "From the Farm" exhibit.
Andrew is from Los Angeles and while there are orange groves in the area, he was out of his element as we brought out farm tools and photographs for the exhibit.
He asked questions about each artifact and I answered them to the best of my ability.
I also learned new things while researching this exhibit by utilizing outside resources.
Sarah Martin from the Kansas State Historic Preservation Office in Topeka emailed me a document created from a survey of 300 barns across Kansas.
The survey identified six typologies of barns-Bank Barnes, Gable-Roof Barns, Gambrel-Roof Barns, Arch-Roof Barns, Polygonal/Round Barns, and Midwest Prairie Barns.
Barns are an important feature on the farm and over the years the type of barn built has changed with advancements in technology.
For generations, farmers used draft animals to pull ploughs and wagons.
Hay was not bailed but stored loosely in the barn.
Loose hay requires a large storage area which made Arch Roof Barns a good choice for farmers.
By the 1930s, the mechanization of farming resulted in the need for fewer draft animals and compact hay bales took up less storage space.
This resulted in a shift away from traditional large barns to one-story metal shed barns to store machinery and hay bales.
The hay bale has also changed over the years. Small rectangular bales weigh between 70-100 lbs. and can be "bucked" without the use of machinery.
In 1972, the round bailer was introduced and these massive cylindrical bales can weigh between 660-880 lbs. and have to be maneuvered with a tractor or fork lift.
These bales compact the hay tighter than rectangle bales, however they can also be more dangerous to work with.
Another source for vintage photos and documents is www.kansasmemory.org.
The Kansas Historical Society has digitized items from their collection for people to view and print.
Many of the agriculture photos are from Western Kansas.
However, I did find a photo of tomato plants at the Kansas State Penitentiary Farm from the early 1900s.
Be sure to stop by the Museum to see the new exhibit.
Our hours are Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 12-4 p.m.
Page 2 of 2 - Admission is free. Bring the kids and or grandkids and find out neat agriculture facts such as which crop is in 75 percent of the items in the grocery store.
Laura Phillippi is the site supervisor for Lansing Historical Museum.