The closer we got to the river, it was nice and cool there too
From the Post and Courier:
Rice, the commodity that once made South Carolina one of the richest colonies in British colonial North America, is being harvested again the coast just outside Charleston. The three-day rice harvest is underway at Middleton Place, a plantation and national historic site on the Ashley River. For about a decade now, the plantation has planted and harvested rice from a quarter-acre field using the same methods used in colonial times — planting by hand and using a curved blade called a rice hook to harvest.
“By growing and harvesting our Carolina Gold rice, which dates back to 1780, it gives folks a little glimpse of the past. You have to squint a little bit, and then you start to understand the economics” of the rice culture, said Bob Sherman, a historic interpreter at the plantation.
This year’s harvest, which concludes Saturday, coincides with the Lowcountry Rice Culture Forum.
The forum was developed in part by artist Jonathan Green, whose colorful paintings of the Gullah culture of sea island slaves are in collections worldwide.
It features three days of events focusing on the significance of rice in colonial times and how rice, class, art and history still influence the Southeast today.
As the rice culture took hold, bringing immense wealth to planters, it required more and more slaves.
“Here in the South we think of cotton. But for every worker you need on a cotton plantation, you need 10 on a rice plantation. This is extremely labor intensive,” said Jeff Neale, another interpreter at Middleton who on Friday worked under a warm sun with a rice hook cutting down the stalks heavy with rice grains.
South Carolina, in 1700, exported about 12,000 pounds of rice.
“In 1770, they will export 83 million pounds. As the rice production grows, the number of slaves grows,” he said. By 1860, production is 140 million pounds.
This year’s Middleton crop was planted on May 16.
There were two ways in colonial times that slaves planted rice.
“One method was the heel-toe method. They would go out barefoot and make a hole with their toe, put some seed in it and take their heel and press it down, move up a few inches and do it again,” Neale said.
Middleton uses the second method, a harrower with spikes in it that makes a row with small holes. The seed is dropped in and then tapped down with a hoe.
The crop at Middleton will be about 400 pounds and “you might get at retail $4,000,” Sherman said.
Some of the rice will stay at Middleton where school children this fall will get to experience the rice culture by winnowing the rice, removing the hull from the grain. Some will be shared with other historic sites in the area for their education programs.
“It’s worth far more as a teaching tool and a demonstration tool than it is a food crop,” Sherman said.
That is what we came to see!
Lon is so happy with his rice
Inside the rice mill
Some information on the mill.
The mill stone
Isn't this beautiful? This is the mill pond
Lon and his rice at the mill pond
It was not crowded today at all. I expected lots more people. There were no crowds at all.
The chapel is the top part of the building, the spring house is below.
About the chapel
Inside the spring house. Can you see the little guy? On the left, in the back.
I can never hope to achieve this level of chill.
The house. The house tour is something we chose not to do on this trip. We had already decided that we were coming back and we would get a membership. There was so much to see!
Lon and a new friend inside the spinning/weaving room. There was a costumed interpreter there to talk about carding the wool from the sheep on the plantation. They harvest the wool, card it, and spin it. They also work with cotton and flax.
They had a great time playing at the carriage house. We first saw the little girl when we pulled in and she was trying to get pine straw out of her shoe. Then we saw her on a path near the mill and she told us there was snake up the path. We chose not to go that way.
We parted ways at the goats, the little girl and her mother had to go to their lectures and we were playing with the animals. This is Jethro, the goat. He is one year old. Just starting to get his horns. Very friendly, and if he is not done having you pet him, he bleats at you till you start again.
Playing a game called, what is that thing? They had a chamber pot, a pair of dutch hands (for working butter after it was churned) a mouth hard, wool carding cards, etc. Next to them was a man dipping candles.
Lon found Arthur, the cat. Arthur had just been petted (harassed) by a group of children and wanted nothing to do with any human. Lon just talked to him and did not attempt to pet him. Arthur was happy with that.
Mary, the other cat, was very happy to have someone to talk to.
Inside the potters place. They have a tray of all the little bits of pottery they found around the plantation. They also make pottery there. Another costumed interpreter. She was very nice and friendly
Lon watching the peacock. We saw the peahens too, but they were not as easily photographed. The stableyards had a lot to do !
Lon loved the dragonfly
The restaurant opened at noon. We arrived shortly there after! They gave us two menus. Both the same. But no kid's menu. I asked the waitress if they did have a children's menu. They did! Pasta, pb&j, and chicken fingers with fries. Lon loved his chicken fingers. I had she crab soup, a crab cake with a corn salad. It was very good.
Then it was back to having fun (learning!)
Lon and the baby peacock. Lon named him lightening
The carriage ride. We will go on that later
The Belgian Draft horses are so pretty.
Miss Eliza's house. This is a replica of the slave quarters. There were people living it for a while
About the house
Inside, learning about the life in the slave quarters
Lon giving the cashmere goat a talking too. She was a sweet thing. They have had the two cashmere goats for five years and they said they have enough cashmere to make one sock. A short single sock.
I have photos of Lon with all the animals, the water buffalo, the cows, the draft horses, the pigs, the chickens, and the geese too. But that is a lot of pictures!
Lon found his friend again and off they went to chase the sheep together. The sheep cared less about the two children running around them. I think they are used to it.
Looking back towards the house and the river. The sheep have lots of work to do! It was such a nice day out there.
We did get the membership, for a year, and it is also good for a house down on the Battery in Charleston. Lon and I have planned to come back the next time he has a half day from school.
We still need to tour the house and see all the rest of the things we missed!