At Gallant Farm, a walk in the park is actually a step back into time -- to a time of wood-burning stoves and root cellars. To a time when farmers used hay forks to move hay into the barn loft and did their late-night chores by the light of a lantern or the full moon. To a time when families gathered around the radio to listen to "Little Orphan Annie" and President Franklin Roosevelt's fireside chats.
Gallant Farm, just north of Delaware at 2150 Buttermilk Hill Road, is a reproduction of a 1930s-era Delaware County family farm. It is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday; hours are listed at www.preservationparks.com.
During a recent walk at the farm, I paused to take it all in, starting with the big white barn with timbers dating back to around 1890. The barn houses some sheep, including a new ram lamb born in the spring. Sensing a visitor, the sheep jockeyed for position next to their pen, looking for a treat, no doubt.
The chickens in the coop did the same thing, running toward me as I approached. I came empty-handed, which was probably a good thing, since farm staff feed the livestock early each morning.
But the sheep and chickens continue to hope.
Walking into the farmhouse, the first thing I noticed was the smell of coffee, and I spotted the metal pot keeping warm on the stovetop. Robin Mayes, the farm educator, often has something baking in the oven -- cookies, a pie or cornbread, perhaps. But this day I settled for only coffee.
I've been in the farmhouse many times, but I always marvel at the furnishings. Most were donated by Delaware County residents who were excited to share the belongings that reminded them of childhood years on their own farms.
Venturing back outdoors, I walked into the farm garden and saw the young crop forming: cucumbers, squash, tomatoes green on the vine, lettuce and more. Everything in the garden will be used this summer or preserved in the fall. In the days of "waste not, want not," everything was used.
As much as I like visiting Gallant Farm for its history and old-fashioned vibe, I most relish the quiet walk along the short trail that surrounds the farm pond. Edged on both sides by wildflowers and meadow grasses, the trail offers a summer walk that's a feast for the senses. During my walk, I saw the purple martins, who nest in the gourds on the farm, winging their way overhead as they search out their insect dinners. I heard the red-winged blackbirds singing their musical trills, and green frogs made their presence known through their croaking and splashing.
Butterflies -- mostly cabbage whites on that day -- flitted around the flowers, and white, puffy clouds scudded along their blue-sky backdrop. The aroma was intoxicating, with the scents of red clover and the other plants mingling with the clean, rainwater smell of the pond.
I closed my eyes and felt I was out in the country -- which, at Gallant Farm, I was.
Sue Hagan is marketing and communications manager for Preservation Parks of Delaware County.