In our last hurrah of the trip, we visited Conner Prairie, a historically preserved 1830's Indiana settlement. I wasn't quite sure what to expect before we got there but it was so much more than I could've hoped for! We started the tour by visiting an old farm site where breeds of sheep and goat that would have been originally farmed by locals ran free. Several very large ewe walked around the barn and we were free to sink our hands into their glorious wool.
We were told by a very knowledgeable guide that the breeds around us were called Tunis, derived from the Tunisian Barbarian sheep brought over in the early 19th century. She told us they would've been the original breed raised in Indiana for their amazingly thick wool and hearty disposition. (Also for meat, but that part makes me sad so I don't talk about it.)
When born, Tunis, or Red Tunis as she called them, are, you guessed it, completely red. As they age and their wool comes in, their bodies become mostly cream. They're absolutely beautiful and so calmly kind! I'll take a dozen please.
Not to be outdone by the mild-tempered sheep, several goats introduced themselves and happily butted heads hoping for a bit of love.
This little one really wanted to say hello and kept rubbing their head against the fence. Once I started taking photos, they couldn't get enough attention.
As we made our way, eventually, out of the farm and into the community, beautiful preserved settlement homes popped up everywhere. There was a doctor's office—tucked into the doctor's home—a blacksmith, woodworker, pottery barn (I'm not kidding!), and a one-room school house. Each home, office, and building was breathtaking in its simplicity.
The herb shed, a short distance from the doctor's house, provided the perfect place to dry various plants and brew healing potions and soothing salves.
The woodworker showed us how he sharpens blades with a wet stone.
The potter had set out some of her work to dry.
In his shop, the blacksmith went about the process of creating a new set of blacksmith's tongs.
What I loved the most was that these people (actors, historians, what have you) were dedicated to their craft. They were't twiddling around, but were actually creating art with their own hands. The blacksmith really twisted and morphed metal into practical work pieces; the woodworker sharpened his blades and went about building axe handles; the potter was on her wheel crafting a set of bowls. Each small detail allowed you to slip back into time, when life was far more difficult yet seemed that much simpler.
Behind the last home was another expansive field full of cattle, sheep, pigs, and a magnificently towering horse. I never, ever wanted to leave this beautiful place. In fact, with the change between Eastern and Central, we didn't even realize it was closing time until every actor, farm hand, tourist, was leaving. I was blissfully unaware and eventually the rest of my family walked off and stood outside the gates for me because they knew it was a loss cause to wait.
I can't wait to go back!