Where we live is a beautiful place, but don’t let that fool you! You see, years ago we used to raise chickens here. We’d collect their eggs, and show visitor how the Phillippi’s handled their chickens. It was all good fun, while it lasted. Nestled right along with us are some critters that aren’t as friendly as we think. So let me tell you why we can’t have chickens anymore.
While they do have wings, true flight is something that eludes the chicken. Even still the skies aren’t safe for the chicken. Red Tailed Hawks, or sometimes referred to as Chicken Hawks, make quite the meal from chickens. They are known to pick up chickens, tease them with flight, then immediately drop them so the gravity will do the dirty work. Red Tails aren’t alone in this. Around here, you can find Cooper Hawks, Sharp-Shins, and even a Great Horned Owl or two. Maybe chickens would just be safer on the ground.
Or maybe not! Everyone knows the dangers of coyotes, and bears, but what about smaller, sneakier creatures. Far from safe, chickens have to be weary of the masked bandits, raccoons! Typically working in groups, raccoons will overwhelm the chicken. But around here, we have an even sneakier creature to worry about. The mink, and other species of weasel are banes to the chicken. But these land critters aren’t even the biggest threat. That title goes to someone you might consider your best friend.
Domesticated and feral, dogs and cats are the biggest scourge to the chicken. We’ve all heard the stories of Old Yeller getting into old man Jenkins chickens again, but that is a huge threat to chickens and other small livestock. The family pet has been a problem for chickens since we’ve had family pets.
Turns out, a lot of animals want to take a bite out the chicken. All these threats mount up, and even with how far back we’ve pushed nature, nature keeps coming. Imagine how it must have been with the settlers, and the Phillippi family. Maybe counting the chickens after they hatch is just as much of a gamble!
If you are reading this, then The Settlers Museum of Southwest Virginia is open! Maybe you've noticed the "closed for winter" signs are gone, or maybe the cars in the parking lot. Hopefully you've noticed the museum is open for the season, and is ready to share the history of Southwest Virginia for another season. This year we want to focus on the experience of our 1890s Farmhouse.
From flax, to classes, to games, to everyday life, we will be trying to recreate some of the experiences of life here on the farm. Life wasn't anywhere near easy here, but there something stirred deep down to see what we came from. So we aim to recreate some of that. While you wait for our programs, stop on down, and let us show you the house!
If you're looking for something cultural this weekend, let us welcome you here to the museum for our Grand Opening event! We will have interpreters giving tours, and sharing our history. We will also be hosting The HendersonJAM kids, performing with traditional Appalachian instruments. Come on out and share in Southwest Virginia heritage!
Tours, music, history, and more will be on display this weekend. So stop by and learn a thing or two about where you're from, and where we came from!
The JAM kids will be performing at 2:00 April 6th, at our shelter weather permitting. We will be in the Farmhouse if it rains or gets too cold.
As our April opening date rolls around, now is a good time to talk about The Settlers Museum, and what we are doing to be ready for new and returning guests. This comes with its own checklist: cleaning up the grounds, dusting off the house, and preparing the fields for flax.
With storms comes debris. Last weekend myself and our tireless secretary, Melody, worked to gather up all the limbs the storms have left like little "gifts" around the Visitor Center. This also included all the pine needles that have scattered themselves around the field, and the litter from the road. Who eats mini weenies while driving? Anyhow, the grounds are looking great, and we are ready to start with the house.
As it turns out, farmhouses from the 1890's get pretty dusty. As such, the board will be getting together to dust, and clean the Farmhouse making it look its best for our guest and tourists. So if you have the time, and maybe a broom, come on out to the museum Saturday the 30th and Sunday the 31st. If you don't have a broom, but you do have a shovel...
This year, as we have in the past, we are planting flax. We are going to provide a little class for children where we show them how to harvest and process flax into fiber that can be turned into linen. From there, the kids can weave the flax into linen squares at the Henderson. To get to that point, we have to start planting!
There's a lot to do, but it all comes together for a museum that celebrates what our settlers went through to lay the foundation of our culture today. A little bit of cleaning hardly compares to the Phillipi family's chores. Come by The Settlers Museum to see our work, and the work of George and Sophie Phillipi!