Antique Tractor Day 2018

Wow, what a great event. Last Sunday here at Billings Farm & Museum we celebrated our annual Antique Tractor Day, featuring over thirty beautifully-restored tractors from the 1920s through to the 70s. Showcasing many iconic names in the history of tractor design, from John Deere and Farmall to Cubcadet and even Porche, this was the perfect experience for petrol-heads of all ages. Our annual Antique Tractor parade drew a huge crowd to watch these amazing machines circle the farm fields, and as a special highlight, the talented folks who restored their tractors were on hand to answer questions and share insights and advice. For younger visitors, there were some great craft projects on offer, as well as an adorable pedal tractor pull and tractor-drawn wagon rides.

Check out these great photos from Antique Tractor Day 2018, and make sure to check our website regularly to see all the other great events coming up here in Woodstock, Vermont…

Cheese & Dairy Celebration 2018

Last weekend was our annual Cheese & Dairy Celebration here at Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, Vermont. Thank you to everyone who came out to sample Vermont dairy products, meet our award-winning dairy cows, and watch local students compete in the first Billings Farm Youth Invitational Show. The weather was beautiful and showed Vermont at its best, with clear blue skies and a light breeze.

On Saturday, visitors were treated to a wide range of dairy-themed activities and events, including the chance to meet our farm manager and learn more about what it takes to look after our Jersey cows, help make their own hand-cranked ice cream, and sample amazing cheese and other delicacies from Cabot and Fat Toad Farm, as well as our own Billings Farm cheddar (now available online). As a special treat, newly arrived Nigerian Dwarf and Alpine goats, visiting for the summer from One Chicken at a Time Farm, were on hand to greet people.

Down at the new Show Barn, visitors were able to meet kids from local 4-H groups and watch them prepare their calves and heifers for Sunday’s show. Seeing these amazing young people hard at work washing, clipping, and feeding their calves and heifers was a particular highlight.

On Sunday, there was 1800’s Base Ball out in the farm fields, with visitors and staff alike stepping up to the plate. However, the main event was the Billings Farm Youth Invitational Show, which saw the students competing for both general showmanship and breed-specific awards. The participants did a wonderful job showing, with many entering the ring for the first time and demonstrating a remarkable amount of responsibility, poise, and knowledge about their animals. Congratulations to everyone who took part!

Next up here at B.F.M., we have our 35th Anniversary Celebration taking place on Sunday the 24th, (with FREE ADMISSION to the public and loads of great events planned), and many more events planned throughout the summer… Make sure to follow us on Facebook and check out our daily schedule to stay up to date on what’s going on.

Woodstock Vermont Film Series Announces Summer Schedule -and Curator Jay Craven

The Billings Farm & Museum is pleased to announce plans for its first-ever Woodstock Vermont Summer Film Series and the appointment of award-winning filmmaker Jay Craven as its Film Series curator and director.

The Summer Film Series will start May 18th and 19th with special screenings of legendary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman’s acclaimed new documentary, EX LIBRIS – The New York Public Library.

EX LIBRIS does more than go behind the scenes of one of the world’s greatest knowledge institutions. It shows its role as a center of community and an exemplar of morality, accessibility, democracy and calm – even as it welcomes diverse people and ideas. The film won top honors at the 2017 Venice International Film Festival and was named to the official shortlist for the 2018 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Due to the length of this film, showtime is 6:00 p.m. All other films will screen on Saturday nights at 5:00 and 7:00 p.m.

On Saturday, June 30th, the series will screen Peter and the Farm by second-time director Tony Stone. The film provides an intimately detailed portrait of southern Vermont dairyman and organic farmer Peter Dunning, a rugged individualist, hard-drinking loner and former artist who has burned bridges with his wives and children and whose only company, even on harsh winter nights, are the sheep, cows, and pigs he tends on his farm. Dunning is one of the most complicated, sympathetic documentary subjects to come along in some time. Imbued with an aching tenderness, Stone’s documentary is both haunting and heartbreaking, a mosaic of its singular subject’s transitory memories and reflections—however funny, tragic, or angry they may be. The film won a Special Jury Prize at the Philadelphia Film Festival and was selected as a New York Times Critic’s Pick.

Alexandra Dean’s documentary, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story will screen on Saturday, July 28th. The film tells the story of this iconic Hollywood star who secretly devised groundbreaking WWII technologies that contributed to the later development of cell phones, WIFI, and Bluetooth technology. This riveting film weaves interviews and clips with never-before-heard audiotapes of Hedy speaking on the record about her incredible life. And it follows the actress/inventor’s retreat, during her later years, when she became a recluse, impoverished and almost forgotten. The film was selected as a New York Times “Best Films of the Year – Critic’s Pick” and was named New York Film Critics’ “Best Documentary Feature” for 2017.

On Saturday, August 11th the series will screen Menashe. The film follows a kind but hapless grocery store clerk trying to keep custody of his son Rieven after his wife, Lea, passes away. But they live in a tradition-bound culture that requires a mother to be present in every home, so Rieven is supposed to be adopted by the boy’s strict, married uncle. Menashe’s Rabbi grants him one week to spend with Rieven prior to Lea’s memorial. Their time together creates an emotional moment of father/son bonding and offers Menashe a final chance to prove to his skeptical community that he can be a capable parent. Shot in secret entirely within Brooklyn’s Hasidic community depicted in the film, “Menashe” is a warm, life-affirming look at the universal bonds between father and son that also sheds unusual light on a notoriously private community. Jacob Weinstein’s film won top honors from the National Board of Review and was nominated for the prestigious Gotham Award, the independent film world’s highest honor. It also played as an Official selection at the Sundance Film Festival.

On Saturday, September 22nd, the Summer Film Series will conclude with a screening of Doug Nichol’s entertaining documentary, California Typewriter, a loving and sometimes humorous portrait of artists, writers, and collectors who remain steadfastly loyal to the typewriter as a tool and muse. Among the typewriter devotees profiled: actor Tom Hanks, musician John Mayer, historian David McCullough, and playwright Sam Shepard. The picture also movingly documents the struggles of California Typewriter, one of the last repair shops in America dedicated to keeping the aging machines clicking. In the process, the film delivers a thought-provoking meditation on the changing dynamic between humans and machines. California Typewriter was an Official Selection at the prestigious and carefully curated Telluride Film Festival.

Each film is screened in the museum theater with high definition digital projection and Dolby® surround-sound. Complimentary refreshments are included. Tickets prices: $11 adults (16 & up); $6 children (under 16). BF&M members receive discounted prices.  Purchase tickets online or 802-457-2355.

The Billings Farm and Museum is also pleased to announce the appointment of award-winning filmmaker Jay Craven as its Woodstock Film Series director and curator. Craven has programmed the new summer series and is already planning screenings and events into the next year. He brings with him a wealth of experience as a respected filmmaker, teacher, and producer of hundreds of Vermont film and performing arts events.

Craven is the recipient of Vermont’s celebrated Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. He has made nine feature films, five documentaries, and a New England Emmy-winning comedy series, “Windy Acres,” for public television. He teaches screenwriting and directing at Sarah Lawrence College, after having led the Marlboro College film program for twenty years. Craven directs Kingdom County Productions, with Bess O’Brien, and established St. Johnsbury’s Catamount Arts organization in 1975, initially as a travelling film series. His own films have played at festivals and special screenings including Sundance, Lincoln Center, The Smithsonian, Harvard Film Archives, The Cinémathèque Française, The Constitutional Court of Johannesburg, and the Cinemateca Nacional de Venezuela.

Programs for Preschoolers begin September 6th.

Programs for Preschoolers will be offered Wednesday mornings in September, from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.  Each program will feature a story, visit to the farm, hands-on activity, and snack.  The cost is $3.00 per person for Billings Farm & Museum members, and $5.00 per person for non-members (includes admission to the Farm & Museum). To register: 802/457-2355 or reservations@billingsfarm.org.

September 6: Mrs. Fickle’s Pickles

Discover how much Mrs. Fickle likes her pickles in this delightful rhyming,  repeating book that takes us through the growing season. We’ll visit the heirloom garden, hand craft a recipe to take home, and, of course, for snack we will enjoy…cucumbers and pickles!

September 13: Reuben and the Quilt

When Reuben’s best friend’s grandfather gets sick, Reuben and his family make a quilt for his benefit auction. We’ll visit the museum’s annual quilt exhibition to admire the beautiful creations on display, then create a quilt pattern, followed by a delicious snack.

September 20: Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

Do you know the signs of fall? This colorful book will help us identify them before we walk across the street to the National Park to see if we can find signs of fall here in Woodstock. We’ll make a puppet and enjoy  a fall snack with friends.

September 27:  Too Many Pumpkins

Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins! How many recipes can be made from pumpkins? We’ll find out after we read Too Many Pumpkins! See many types of pumpkins, on display, make a pumpkin stencil to take home, and enjoy a delicious pumpkin bread snack.

Changes at the Billings Farm Horse Barn: An Update from our Farm Staff

As a working farm with a proud agricultural heritage going back to 1871 when Frederick Billings and George Aitken first brought Jersey cows to Woodstock, Billings Farm & Museum is dedicated to improving the way we work the land and care for our livestock. From fine-tuning what we feed our animals to maintaining our position as one of the best Jersey herds in the country, we believe that it’s vital to constantly evaluate our practices to find those that best suit our mission as both a working farm and award-winning history museum.

As with any farm, sometimes the decisions we have to make are not easy. Recently, our farm staff have begun the careful process of reevaluating the needs of our horse barn, and have decided that several changes will be made to better provide and care for our animals.

Lynne and Sue, our team of black Percheron mares, have been a beautiful and popular part of the Farm for much of the past decade. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly apparent that they are no longer thriving here. Hard workers who are happiest when pulling a wagon or sleigh, they are also shy and prefer a quiet and calm environment. Because of this, they will be leaving us and moving to a nearby farm where they will be worked much more without the stresses of a busy barn.

Tom and Jerry, our Belgian geldings, will also be retiring in the next year for medical reasons. Jerry has recently been diagnosed with acute Lyme Disease, and our animal care team has advised us to limit his workload. Because of this, the team will be moving to a private residence in the near future, where they can rest and be cared for in a quieter environment.

Jim, our single grey Percheron, will be staying at the farm and will soon be joined by a younger team who will be responsible for wagon and sleigh rides in the future. Please stay tuned for updates, and feel free to let us know if you have any questions by contacting us at info@billingsfarm.org

Two Homes, One Estate: Combined Tour of Billings Farm & Museum and the National Park

Billings Farm & Museum and the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Site are partnering to offer “Farm House/Manor House,” a special tour that explores life, work, and leisure in their respective historic homes. The program will be offered one Saturday each month: July 22, August 19, September 16, and October 21, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

In the late 1800s, what we know today as Billings Farm and the National Park, formed a single estate, a “model gentleman’s farm” operated by the Billings family – first by patriarch Frederick Billings, then his wife Julia and their daughters in the decades following his death in 1890. In 1889, Billings began construction on a modern farm house for their newly hired farm manager, George Aitken, his wife, and four daughters. The Billings and Aitken families began a professional and personal relationship that spanned two decades and brought great acclaim to the estate’s farm and forestry operations.

The guided tour will take visitors back in time – to the Farm House, restored to its 1890 appearance and the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Mansion, which features original furnishings and personal effects from 1869 through 1997.

“We’ll explore the unique aspects of these two homes: the state-of-the-art amenities that set apart the Billings farmhouse in its era and the superb local craftsmanship in the Billings Mansion,” said Stephanie Kyriazis, Chief of Interpretation at the National Park, “One of the wonderful aspects of this estate,” she continued, “is the surprising details of its history – from the close relationship between the families of a ‘captain of industry’ and a professional farmer, to the fact that both the Billings and especially the Aitken women transcended the expectations of their time.”

The program will be offered Saturday, July 22, August 19, September 16 and October 21 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and will begin at the Billings Farm & Museum.

Admission: $20 for adults, $16 for seniors (62 and over) provides admission to both homes and the Billings Farm & Museum. Reservations recommended. To reserve: 802-457-3368 ext. 222.

Programs for Pre-schoolers

It’s a great time to enroll your kids (or grandkids) in Billings Farm & Museum’s Programs for Preschoolers, taking place Wednesday mornings in July, from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. Each Preschool Program will feature a story, visit to the farm, hands-on activity, and snack.  The cost is $3.00 per person for Billings Farm & Museum members and $5.00 per person for non-members (includes admission to the Farm & Museum).

Scroll down for our enrollment form and details on each program:

   Run With the Wind.  Wed., July 5. Little Foal is afraid to leave his mother because it’s a big scary world out there! But when his mother eventually returns to work he discovers a wonderful playmate—the wind! We’ll take a walk to visit our horses, play pin the tail on the pony, and enjoy a snack with friends.  

     Should I Share My Ice Cream?  Wed., July 12.  Gerald is excited about his “awesome, yummy, sweet, super, great, tasty, nice, cool ice cream” cone. Should he share it with his friend, Piggie? We’ll read along to see if Gerald shares, then head to the Ice Cream Parlor at the National Park before we enjoy an “awesome, yummy, sweet, super, great, tasty, nice, cool ice cream” of our own.

     Hurry.  Wed., July 19. The hay is down and a storm is on the horizon. Nora must help Grandma and Grandpa get the hay in quickly. Discover why hay is so important for the animals on the farm when we visit our horses and discover hay-making equipment in our Farm Life Exhibits. Make a peek-a-boo barn and enjoy a snack with friends.

     Rusty, Trust TractorWed., July 26. Mr. Hill of Hill’s Tractor Sales wagers twenty jelly doughnuts that Granpappy’s old tractor won’t make it through haying season. Will Granpappy buy a new red tractor with the fancy-dancy engine? Or will he keep his “old friend,” the rusty, trusty tractor? We’ll take a look at our farm equipment up close and enjoy a doughnut. Paint your own wooden tractor to take home.

To register for Programs for Preschoolers, please call 802/457-2355, week days, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or use the form below. Each program has limited enrollment, and advance registration is required.

 

 

 

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Billings Farm & Museum Summer Camp: Registration now open

This summer, Billings Farm & Museum invites Children aged 8-12 to step back in time and join us for our Farm Adventure Camp. Experience five fun days of activities and adventures, based on the personal journals of children who grew up in villages and on hill farms in 19th century Vermont.

Running twice, from July 10 – 14 and Aug. 7 – 11, 2017 (9 a.m. – 3 p.m.), this unique and exciting program lets kids explore the Vermont of 150 years ago through hands-on farm chores and pastimes:

Help groom and feed our livestock; bake an apple pie and molasses cookies from scratch in the kitchen woodstove; discover stories in old journals and start writing your own. Compete in sack races and watermelon seed spitting, make ice cream, and enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride. Be prepared for an excursion into the village to discover your local history and the importance of becoming a contributing member of the community, and much more…

The program costs $300 for members and $340 for non-members. Spots are filling fast so call 802-457-2355, e-mail reservations@billingsfarm.org, or use the form below to book today.

 

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Programs for Preschoolers at Billings Farm

May is coming up, and it’s a great time to enroll your kids (or grandkids) in Billings Farm & Museum’s Programs for Preschoolers, taking place Wednesday mornings through May, from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. Each Preschool program will feature a story, visit to the farm, hands-on activity, and snack.  The cost is $3.00 per person for Billings Farm & Museum members, and $5.00 per person for non-members (includes admission to the Farm & Museum).

Scroll down for our enrollment form and details on each program:

 Woolbur.  Wed., May 3. Woolbur is not like other sheep, which causes Maa and Paa to pull on their wool all night. What will happen when they insist that he follow the flock? Find out as we read this delightful tale of a free-spirited sheep. We’ll visit Billings Farm’s flock of wooly Southdowns, work with their wool, and enjoy a tasty treat.    

The Flowers are Calling. Wed., May 10.  Learn about the cooperation between plants, animals, and insects as they work together in the forest. We’ll take a walk in the National Park to look for signs of spring, plant a seed to take home, and sample flower-shaped snacks.

Zinnia and Dot. Wed., May 17. Zinnia and Dot are plump hens that argue constantly about which one lays better eggs. When a weasel pays a visit and steals all but oneof the eggs, they work together to protect their prized possession. We’ll visit our new chicks, make a chicken craft to take home, and share a yummy snack.

Click, Clack, Moo. Cows that Type. Wed., May 24. Farmer Brown has a dilemma. His cows like to type – which doesn’t seem to be a big problem, until the cows start leaving him notes! Come listen to what the cows say to Farmer Brown. Meet our Jersey cows in the barns, make a cow puppet, and enjoy a delicious dairy snack!

Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt. Wed., May 31. Discover the hidden world between the leaves of plants and beneath the ground. We’ll visit our heirloom garden and search for the creatures we read about in this story. Make a bug project and share a veggie treat.

To register for Programs for Preschoolers, please call 802/457-2355 or use the form below. Each Preschool program has limited enrollment, and advance registration is required.

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Nintendo has Accepted our Challenge: Part Two

Several weeks ago, we had some pretty unusual visitors here at Billings Farm. If you’ve read  Nintendo has Accepted our Challenge, you’ll know that after discovering Nintendo’s now-infamous cow milking game and concluding that their designers had no idea how difficult it is to milk a non-virtual cow,  we decided to send them a letter challenging them to a milk-off!

Amazingly Nintendo, one of the world’s largest entertainment companies, accepted the challenge and sent a team to Vermont to learn more about the hard work that our farmers put into caring for our herd of award-winning Jersey cows. Nintendo execs. David Young and Tim Kwong explored the Billings Farm and Woodstock, milked their first cow, and took on farm staff Alayna and Tyler at a virtual cow-milking contest in the center of the cow barn.

Now that the dust has cleared, we’re happy to share the following video, showing how the contest evolved and who won. This was an amazing event and we couldn’t be happier with the results. The team from Nintendo were wonderful guests, with exceptional enthusiasm and eagerness to learn how Billings Farm operates. They’re welcome to return for a rematch any time!