Hello again, friends! Before we get started, let me just give a brief news update. Sometime this week (probably Tuesday) the blog here is going to be featured in the Mormon Times section of the DesNews. Not sure if its just the online or the actual print version. Also, at the end of the month I'm going to be making a presentation at the Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts quarterly breakfast. And sometime between now and then I'm going to be doing some foodways lectures for volunteers up at This Is The Place Heritage Park (a.k.a TITP), helping them to use pioneer foodways to hook visitors.
As I was doing some of the research for TITP recently it struck me that the core of the pioneer Utah economy was agriculturally based. Agriculture was their only significant production industry, and their only large scale export. In 1864 for example, historian Leonard Arrington documented 200,000 pounds of dried peaches being shipped from Utah to the mining communities in Montana. Similar shipments of wheat sustained the early settlement of Denver, Colorado in 1859.
So this brought me to look at all the elements of agriculture a little differently. Sometimes in the past I looked at the timber-framed barns of early Utah and thought, "If they could build such a large barn, why would they live in such small houses?" This past week I came to understand that the barn was an economic engine for the family farm. The barn sheltered the horses and oxen that plowed the fields. The barn supplied the clean sheltered space for threshing grain. Additional outbuildings stored corn, or helped to process milk, or preserve hams. Most of the output from these structures was headed to market. Often we think of self-sufficient homesteads, but the agricultural efforts were for cash crops, not simply home production.
So I was thinking about building a chicken coop for our family, and I got online to look at plans. Most of what you find online is very hobby-oriented, aimed at just a handful of hobby chickens. I have something bigger in mind, more than the occasional feel-good omlette. I'd like an economic engine. Something to house 50+ hens...
On a different topic, what are y'all doing for the 24th?