Life on the Farm In Pictures

Sheep shearing several weeks ago. The sheep were getting hot with their three or four inch thick wool coats still on.

New kittens and their mother on the porch of Melody’s log cabin playhouse.

Sheep grazing in the silvopasture demonstration plot.

Historic House Preservation

We are curators for the Maryland State Park System and are doing preservation work on the house that we live in. For those of you who live in Maryland, our house is part of your state park system.  Over the last several weeks we removed the plaster from the log walls in the kitchen on the first floor, insulated between the logs and started getting it ready to chink between the logs. It appears from evidence that we saw in the demolition process that the log cabin could possibly date back to the 1700’s. We found several names scratched into a section of log chinking and four sets of initials carved into a board on the staircase. The main part of the house was built around 1900.

Below are the before and after pictures of one of the upstairs rooms of the log cabin section of the house that we finished up this past month. For being part of the upstairs of a log cabin it is a large room measuring 17′ x 18′. We used this room for our homeschool school room for the last eight years. Since we have only two children left in school, we decided to make it into a library and a cozy place to read and do internet research in the evenings.

Library Room West End Before in 2008:


Hidden behind the plaster in the previous picture were beautiful hand-hewn log walls. We removed the old chinking between the logs and added insulation before rechinking. The windows were replaced and the floor refinished.

You have heard of how God provided this farm for us and why we gave the farm its name. God’s provision has not stopped there and has continued in the years since. The last several months have been like Christmas as we bought furnishings for this room and bought antique cabinets for the kitchen. Each time as we went to an auction, we would pray that God would provide what we needed at a good price and to keep us from buying things that we didn’t need. It was amazing how the prayers were answered over and over.

The things God provided:
The Queen Anne wingback chair in the left corner in almost new condition – $60
The lamp on the table between the chairs – $5
The rose colored Queen Anne chair on the right in excellent condition – $2 These two wingback chairs provide a neat cozy corner for reading.
Most of the china tea pots on the shelves between the windows – $10
The antique oak drop leaf extension table – $80
The two antique bow back chairs at the oak table – $2 each
East End Before:


Things God provided:
Antique Drop leaf mahogany desk with claw and ball feet on the left for Myron – $65
The red cabinets in the corner were purchased cheap a number of years ago and painted to match the wall.
The large cherry sewing cabinet to the left of the door was custom made by Myron as a wedding gift for Cathy.
The small bentwood rocker was Cathy’s when she was growing up.
The antique mahogany drop leaf desk to the right of the door also has claw and ball feet, for Cathy – $80
The antique Walnut extension table in the center of the room – $80 The legs were designed in such a way that we could cut off several inches off of the legs and lower the table to make it easy to use with laptops. As I write this, the girls are using it for crafts.

The two cherry desks along the wall Myron made one for each of the children for school. The legs are adjustable to grow with the child.
The double sided red bookcase creates a nice room divider for the cozy corner. It was free from a job when Myron worked in construction. We repainted it to match the room.

Silvopasture Demonstration Plot

The Forest Service Department of Maryland Department of Natural Resources has asked us to work with them in developing a Silvopasture Demonstration Plot on 10 acres adjacent to the farmland that we are currently farming. It will combine timber/trees with pasture and will give Maryland landowners an example of how they can use their own land to produce timber and at the same time receive income from the land by grazing livestock while the trees grow. The silvopasture will consist of rows of trees planted in a pasture with 50′ grass spacings between the tree plantings. We will provide the livestock to graze the grass and we will also mow as necessary.

The silvopasture concept appears to be an excellent way to increase carbon sequestration on farmland without totally removing the land from food production. We look forward to working with the Forest Service on this project and applying some of the things that we have learned in carbon sequestering to this test plot. There will be some other tree plantings on adjacent parcels that will be used as controls to compare with the silvopasture experiment.

Daniel and Joel cutting up a dead tree at the edge of the silvopasture to get ready to put up a fence for the sheep.

Curatorship Work on the House

We installed new steps and railing on the back porch of the house. Our daughter, Melody, is painting the porch posts.

Our son, Luke, painting the porch posts on the front porch.

Sons, Joel and Daniel, scraping paint on the back of the house.

Tour Group from the International Chestnut Symposium

Recently we hosted a tour group of people from around the world who attended the International Chestnut Symposium at Shepherdstown, WV. The tour group leader later commented in an email that the chestnut orchard on our farm was really spectacular given its age. The trees are much bigger than what most are at their age. Earlier this summer, we helped inoculate about 2/3 of the trees with two different strains of chestnut blight. Next year the trees will be evaluated according to how they respond to the blight. The best ones will be used for further breeding purposes.

Two big buses drove up in the pasture to the chestnut orchard.

Part of the tour group.

Historic Reproduction Playhouse

Our youngest daughter has wanted a playhouse. This summer, on Memorial Day and on July 4th, we built a log cabin playhouse as a “historic reproduction” example of the log cabins that used to populate the area around our farm. It is behind the red building where you pick up chickens and it sits beside an old road that probably dates back to 1787. Here is what the sign reads that Melody wrote and posted on the cabin:

Historic Reproduction

This playhouse is like the log cabins that used to be along this old road years ago. This was a main road. To the north was a glass factory and a school, and to the south was another school, a kiln, and an iron furnace. The iron furnace used an acre of wood a day. In the 1800’s the ridge was stripped of trees. Both the glass factory and the iron furnace started in 1787.

They also blasted rock from big boulders for the C&O aqueduct over the Monocacy River and carted it away by a train that ran on a sturdy wooden track. There are also other old roads in the woods. On a walk through the woods along an old road, you might come to a stone wall that surrounded a field, or you might come to a foundation or a flat spot where a house used to stand, or even better, a rotting away house. By the early 1900’s the wood to power the iron furnace was gone; the people, business, and activity were gone and the ridge was covered in grassy fields where cattle roamed. Now everything is once more covered by trees, but evidence still remains that this used to be a very busy active place.

The log cabin playhouse. One of the unit studies that the children will have in our homeschool this year will be on historic preservation. Part of that will be learning how to put mortar between the logs, building a door, and installing the windows.

A small potbellied coal stove sits in one corner of the playhouse ready to cook many imaginary meals.

The Monocacy Natural Resource Management Area (MNRMA)

Our family has come to the opinion that the state park land where our farm is located, is the most interesting Maryland State Park to hike and explore. As curators of the Mackintosh Farmhouse we felt that it was important that we find out the history of the Monocacy Natural Resource Management Area (MNRMA). We did not expect to find much. What we found is fascinating. The MNRMA is a treasure for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

By a casual observation of the property, it appears to be an undeveloped woodland in the Washington DC metropolitan region, that was saved from development by the park system. However, unlike most of the metropolitan area that is more developed today than any time in history, this area was much more densely populated 200+ years ago. It was a thriving community completely cleared of trees. At least five old roads dating back to the late 1700’s can still be seen in the woods on the east side of the Monocacy River. Most of the current trails follow some of these old roads. As you hike the old roads you realize that this land was touched by other human beings hundreds of years before. What was life like for them? What did the area look like then?

Monnockessy Indian Towne

In 1712, the Tuscarora Indians built a large town on the southern part of the Monocacy Natural Resource Management Area (MNRMA) south of Route 28. This is one of the few known Indian towns located in Maryland. The town was located on the west bank of the Monocacy river and spread 1 1/2 miles to the west. Most of the lodges in the village were round forms constructed of poles covered with birch bark and pine branches. Some of the Indians lived in wigwams. They planted lots of maize (corn) with some of the lodges having as much as 300 bushels at a time. The Tuscarora Indians were traders. They traded with other Indian tribes and traded the skins with white traders. There were often 3-5 white traders living in the village. By 1738, the Tuscarora Indians had moved out. Our family has not yet explored this area of the park.

Indian Camp Sites?

Hiking through the woods, not following any trail, we found what are possible old Indian campsites located along Furnace Creek which is on the opposite side of the Monocacy River from the Monnockessy Indian Towne. They are huge rock outcroppings near the creek.

Johnson Iron Furnace – Maryland Historical Trust site #F-7-9

The Johnson Iron Furnace site is located in the MNRMA close to the parking lot on Route 28. All that remains now are some holes in the ground and some terracing into the hillside. The Johnson Furnace was built in 1787 by the Johnson brothers who also owned the Catoctin Iron Furnace which is also part of the Catoctin State Park. The Johnson Furnace produced 12-15 tons of iron a week, and employed both free and slave blacks, and also white men. About one acre of woods was required per day to make charcoal to feed the furnace. The furnace continued operation until about 1822. By the time the furnace ceased operating, several thousand surrounding acres had been totally cleared of trees.

Old Roads

There are numerous old roads that can still be clearly seen in the woods that probably date back to the late 1700’s or before. Along some of these old roads, we found what appears to be old house sites. The same year that the Johnson Furnace started, 1787, the Amelung Glass factory, four miles north, also started production. The Amelung Glass factory employed 340+ workers, had several stores, a doctor, and a blacksmith. The Johnson Iron Furnace employed probably over 100 workers. This accounts for the numerous roads. The road that went from the Johnson Furnace to the Amelung Glass factory, went past the Mackintosh Farmhouse (our house). You can see the old road bed between our house and the red shed. It is over grown with brush and we would like to clear it out at some point.

Lime Kiln?

There is a stone structure that some call a lime kiln, others call it a furnace. It is in need of identification and preservation. To the best of our knowledge, it is not listed on the Maryland Historic Trust list of historic structures. The Lime Kiln is located some distance from the Johnson Iron Furnace.

Old School Site

The C.O. Titus map of 1873 shows a school located in the MNRMA. We found a stone wall in the woods located next to the old school site. There are no visible remains of the school.

There is also the remains of an old school at the end of Ed Sears Rd. across from our lane. It is located on private property about 100 feet from the road just outside the MNRMA. The presence of two schools located about a mile apart, shows that there was a much larger community that existed years ago.

Quarry for the Monocacy Aqueduct

There is a quarry site located in the MNRMA where stone was quarried to build the Monocacy Aqueduct on the C&O canal. You can still see channels cut into the rock where they drilled to blast the rock and cut it into big blocks.

One of the First Railroads In America

The site of one of the first railroads in America is located in the MNRMA. A railroad was built from the stone quarry to the Monocacy Aqueduct to transport the huge blocks of stone. It was a horse drawn railroad.

Stone Silo

At the end of Dr. Belt Road on another curatorship property owned by the park system is a unique stone silo. It has a ring of holes two thirds of the way up the silo. Holes in a silo will cause the silage to rot. Therefore these holes are not there because it is a silo. It appears to have been built as a lookout/fort during the civil war. It is located on a high spot overlooking the Potomac River and into Virginia. It would have had a clear view for quite a distance up and down the Potomac River.

There is much more to research and to find out. Unfortunately, the history of the Monocacy Natural Resource Area has not been documented with signs for anyone hiking in the park. Most people probably hike through not realizing what all is there. But then it also means that this is a place to explore and discover its hidden history. For pictures of the structures and old roads we found, you can visit the photo gallery on our farm website.

Trail maps can be found on the following web pages: and

The history of the MNRMA is not the only only reason that we think that this is a very interesting park to hike and explore. As we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of different kinds of birds, especially in the area surrounding our farm. We never had this many birds at our other farm. Most of the trails are fairly easy to hike. Very few people know about this park and the trails here, so it is a great place to get alone and enjoy the woods, the wildflowers, wildlife, etc. and many times never see another human being. All this, so close to Washington DC.