A Christmas Day run, then a Christmas Day walk, and my favorite farms:
The Jessup Farm
Jessup Farm, main house
The developers are also responsible for the Bucking Horse “townhomes community,” built around my favorite bank barn:
Johnson Farm bank barn
The complex is currently known as the “Bucking Horse Urban Estate / Johnson Farm Innovation Campus. Really. The developers have grand plans for the Jessup Farm – Johnson Farm: it’s all about healthy and sustainable living, with produce/herb gardens, farm to fork restaurant, yoga studio, bike shop, wine cave, cheesery, bakery . . . . Meanwhile (two years and waiting), the buildings are still deteriorating, but hey, the Jessup Farm Artisan Village has a concrete parking lot! And, the Bucking Horse townhouses are going up at a pretty rapid clip:
Oh look, Craftsman Bungalow townhouses!
. . . . with fake side-swing garage doors!
Well. Ummm . . . . wow?
The first run of the year, down to Strang Farm:
And the blooming Christmas Cactus:
George Strauss Cabin, December 2009
George Strauss Cabin, December 2009: charred remains of original log cabin in foreground
George Strauss Cabin, December 2009: window
George Robert Strauss
Strauss Farm in 1911
Strauss Cabin in 1935
George Strauss homesteaded on the Poudre River in 1864 … survived the flood that year to grow vegetables for the next 40 years. Then came the flood of 1904 — his neighbor James Strang rescued him from that one, but he died the next day from exposure. The original log cabin burned to the ground in 1999 after an arson fire.
Strang Farm, December 2009
Double Concrete Silos
One of our favorite six-mile loops takes us down a washboard dirt road past gravel works, old homesteads, and a marshy nature preserve. The Arapaho Bend Natural Area, a haven for migratory birds as well as our usual bands of year-round Canada geese, was reclaimed from old gravel pits and named after the Arapaho natives who once gathered under the cottonwoods. The homesteads, long abandoned, were among the earliest claims in this area of the city. But look past the still-active gravel works, ignore the hum of the interstate highway farther east, and see the reminders: concrete silos, twin sentinels of time; a loafing shed, slowly collapsing back into the earth; a drunken sloop of metal roof, creaking in the breeze. A chain-link fence surrounds the charred remains of the James Strang Cabin, hastily erected after someone started a “campfire” inside the house in 2002. Not much protection against human predators, and certainly not against time.
James Strang in front of his cabin, c. 1890s
James Strang, sitting on lower branch of the Arapaho "Council Tree," c. 1890s
In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons . . . .
So begins Elizabeth Gaskell’s delightful Cranford (1853). My little copy is from 1906, and belonged to:
Because of this book, I discovered that there is a whole world out there devoted to handwriting research and genealogy. Well, of course — perfect sense if I had ever thought about it. What does Isabella Huffsmith’s handwriting say about her? That she lived during a time when people used ink pots, and schools actually taught handwriting according to systems — I’m guessing the Palmer method, in her case. That she read this book as a schoolgirl: the book was published by Ginn & Company as part of their Standard English Classics series of inexpensive school texts. That she kept this book but perhaps did not read it again — the pages are crisp, the binding tight. A memento of her girlhood? Frugality? Or just because?
I picked this book up a few years ago from a used bookstore in northern Colorado, and on the off-chance that there might be information on the internet about Isabella Huffsmith, I started searching last night. And there was in fact a Isabella Huffsmith born in Weld County in 1898! If this is the same Isabella — and the dates and region do match — she too came from Colorado pioneer stock and married Charles Ovid Plumb (1895 – 1997) in 1918. C. O.’s grandfather Plumb had been a wealthy Union Colonist, and maternal grandfather White had settled in Greeley in 1871 and had been a farmer, mason, postmaster, and mayor. Isabella and C. O. moved to the White-Plumb Farm in 1923 and spent the rest of their lives there, farming and raising six girls. Isabella died in 1991, but before her death, she and C. O. decided to deed the property to the City of Greeley to be used as an agricultural heritage center after their deaths.
The Plumb Farm Learning Center was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
The Wesley Johnson Barn: June, 2009
It had rained yesterday afternoon, another one of those short-lived but intense afternoon thunderstorms. This morning we ran by the bank barn, and I could see someone else had gone exploring down the old farm lane, perhaps even waded through the waist-high grass to go poking around in the main house:
The Johnson Farmhouse: June, 2009
Bank Barn: June, 2009