CURRENT HOURS: TUES-SAT • 9am–4pm • Last tractor cart leaves at 2pm

Farmer Hilary

Hilary at the 1850 FarmThis week, let’s meet another historic guide at Living History Farms. Have you met Farmer Hilary? Hilary works at many of our historic buildings. Sometimes, she dresses up to be a Victorian lady at the Flynn House. Or you might see her in a work dress and apron while setting type in the Print Shop. She could be feeding chickens at the 1900 Farm. Most of the time, you will meet her at the 1850 Pioneer Farm. She wears a lot of different hats around the museum!

Hilary with a cake

Question: Where do you work at the museum?
Answer: During the summer, I work at the 1850 Pioneer Farm. I take care of things in the house like cooking, cleaning, and gardening, and I help take care of some of the animals too. In the winter, I work at the Tangen and Flynn houses. There, I cook and host for the Historic Dinners and Teas programs where people can come and have a meal!

Question: What do you do every day?
Answer: My job is to do what a farm woman would do every day in 1850. I gather water in the morning, light the fire to get ready to cook the noon day meal, garden, and take care of animals. But I also talk to people while I’m doing these things to show what life would be like for people moving to Iowa in the 1850’s. And no, I don’t live here! This is just my job, and I go home at the end of the day. Just like kids don’t live at school, I don’t live at work! But I take it as a compliment that I’m so convincing that people think I really do live here.

Hilary baking

Question: Is it hard to cook over a hearth?
Answer: I wouldn’t say it’s hard; it’s just different. I had to learn and practice how to cook over a fire, just like the pioneers did. When people left the East and decided to come live in Iowa, they had to leave their stoves behind because they were too big and heavy to fit in a covered wagon. They had to learn how to cook over a fire. It was hard at first since there aren’t any knobs or numbers to tell you how hot the fire is, but after a lot of practice, I know what the fire needs to look like to make sure it’s hot enough to cook with. My favorite thing is baking!


Question: Are the oxen/cows scary to be around?
Answer: Beau and Luke aren’t scary to me, even though they are big!!!! They weigh about 2,000 pounds each! WOW! Because they are animals, I had to learn how to act around them. The oxen and cows use their horns to scratch themselves if they have an itch, or to protect themselves from other animals or flies. Because they are so big, sometimes they can’t see what is around them, so at the 1850 Farm we have to watch where their heads are and what they are doing so we don’t get scratched by their horns. Ox

Cows’ eyes also work differently than a human’s, and our hands look really big to them if we try to pet them. That’s why cows don’t like to be petted, and they will try to protect themselves with those horns! Now that I know that, I know how to stay out of the way of the oxen’s horns.

Question: What should we know about visiting at the 1850 Pioneer Farm?
Answer: There are many really interesting things to do and see at the farm. Many of the animals are big and the fire is hot. Kids and parents should always ask a guide before they touch a tool or get near the fire in the cabin. We can help visitors get close to animals and pick up objects in ways that are safe for everyone.
1850 Farmers
Fall is one of Hilary’s favorite times at the 1850 Farm. Pumpkins are coming out of the field and the 1850 farmers are pickling and drying food, and getting ready for colder weather ahead. Come out and visit with Hilary and the 1850 farmers to learn more about fall on the farm!

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