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Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

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This is a contributing entry for Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.
Upon arriving at their new home the first thing that immigrants, such as the Schmitts, would do would be to build their barn. The barn was the focus of activity and had multiple purposes, making it the most important structure on the farmstead. The barn stored hay, feed, tools and equipment, as well as stabled the animals. Visitors to the Schmitt farmstead will learn about the development of agriculture in our area from the 19th century to the early 20th century.

Schmitt Farmstead

Schmitt Farmstead

Hay bales in the hay barn

Hay bales in the hay barn

Hay trolley in the hay loft

Hay trolley in the hay loft

Hay Barrack

Hay Barrack

Ram Barn

Ram Barn

Joe and Bailey in ram pasture

Joe and Bailey in ram pasture

Ewe Barn

Ewe Barn

Ewes in the ewe pasture

Ewes in the ewe pasture

Chicken coop

Chicken coop

Sugar Shack

Sugar Shack

Wood Shed

Wood Shed

Apiary

Apiary

At the beginning of the 19th century, America was an almost entirely agrarian society and would remain so for several years to come. Immigrant farmers in the American northeast followed the centuries old patterns set by their European ancestors. Early farmers were primarily subsistence farmers, meaning that they would raise animals, and crops, chiefly to fill the needs of their household or the households of close friends and/or neighbors. German immigrant farmers, such as the Schmitts, would typically raise horses or oxen for labor, sheep in order to supply the family with clothing, swine and cattle for meat, goats for milk and cheese, chickens for eggs and meat, and bees for honey and beeswax. Something that set them apart from other European immigrant farmers was the fact that they sheltered their animals in the winter. A traveler at the time remarked "while the English and Swedes had no stables, the Germans and Dutch had 'preserved the custom of their country, and generally kept their cattle in barns during the winter." Here on the Schmitt Farmstead, we have both a ram barn and a ewe barn to shelter our livestock during the winter months, following the German tradition.

Another earmark of the German farmer was the cultivation of large vegetable gardens. Some of the most popular crops include: potatoes, turnips, cabbage, peas, beans, cucumbers, beets, onions, lettuce, carrots, and apples. Apples were especially important since they were primarily used to make cider, the main beverage of the time. Every farm possessed an apple mill and cider press.

The Schmitt Farmstead consists of the following outbuildings:

  1. Hay Barn
  2. Hay Barrack
  3. Ram Barn and pasture
  4. Ewe Barn and pasture
  5. Chicken Coop
  6. Sugar Shack
  7. Wood Shed
  8. Apiary

The Schmitt Farmstead Livestock:

The sheep living on the Schmitt Farmstead are Hog Island sheep, which is a heritage breed in critical need of conservation. There are fewer than 200 in the United States. Hog Island sheep are primarily bred for their wool. The wool is of medium weight with fleece yields ranging from two to eight pounds.

Our chickens are primarily Barred Rock chickens (we currently have 1 Ameraucana chicken). They are also a heritage breed originating from the Massachusetts area in about 1865. Barred rock chickens are bred for both their egg laying ability as well as for their meat. They are beautiful chickens with black and rock-grey colored stripes on their feathers and a single red comb on their head.

The Schmitt Farm Year:

January:       

February: splitting wood

March: Maple Sugaring          Fencing repairs        

April: Cleaning out barns (Manuring)                  Drainage in fields                   Lambing

May: Plowing, cultivating, and planting kitchen garden and crop fields          clean chicken coop     beekeeping season begins     Lambing continues

June: Planting buckwheat Sheep shearing          Strawberry harvest Harvest 1st cutting of hay

July: Strawberry harvest continues  

August: Second haying     Corn harvest

September: Harvesting    Cider making   Plant Spelt (a winter wheat)         

October: Harvesting and cider making continues         Fall plowing     Preparing barns for winter    Fall hoof trim…Sheep    close up bee hives for winter

November: Preparing barns for winter     Sheep breeding          clean chicken coop

December: splitting wood

Lubienecki, Paul. German-Prussian Immigrants on the Niagara Frontier The Early Years of the Old Lutheran Church in the New World, July 7th 2018. Accessed September 14th 2020. https://newyorkhistoryreviewarticles.blogspot.com/2018/07/german-prussian-immigrants-on-niagara.html.

Accessed September 14th 2020. https://livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/hog-island.

Accessed September 14th 2020. https://www.roysfarm.com/hog-island-sheep/.

Accessed September 14th 2020. https://livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/plymouthrock..

Gagliardo, John G. Germans and Agriculture in Colonial Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. Accessed September 14th 2020. https://journals.psu.edu/pmhb/article/view/41466.

Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village Docent Manuel

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village