Friday, September 29, 2023

Tool or weapon? Fruit or vegetable?

What is this scary looking thing? 
Or this one below? 

Are they instruments of medieval torture? Are they props for playing the popular Warhammer game? 

These were the questions we started with at a recent outreach program we did at the Conway Adult Day Center. Through a series of interactive questions and up close inspection that audience was able to figure out their purpose. 

Actually, they are harvesting tools. 

And what is their connection to autumn decorations? 

Let's start with the corn. Dried cornstalks and colorful ears of corn are a staple of fall displays. 

For us today, they are only a vestige of what was once a critical part of a family's survival. 

Is corn a fruit, vegetable, grain or all three? See this link here to follow different opinions. 

For our local historical perspective, it depends on the variety of corn. In general, there are two main types of corn, sweet corn which we eat as corn on the cob, etc. That harvest time has just recently past. 

For more on the history of local sweet corn see our previous blog here

If you drive out on East Conway Road, you will still see corn growing in the fields. This is field corn and it will be processed for mostly animal feed. This kind of corn is processed like a grain. For more on feed corn see our previous blog here

The items seen above are for processing hay. The top item is a hay knife and the second one is a hay fork (are you getting hungry?). To learn more about the difference between harvesting hay and grains see our previous blog here

If you would like to learn more, the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room offers a number of free hands-on programs to local schools and community groups on historic farming and social life. 

Contact us for details!