February 3, 2015

A Visit to the Past: Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms

by Angela Castillo

It's one thing to tell your children about the 'olden days, when horse power meantwell, horsesand milk and eggs were gathered from the back yard. When thirteen children slept in one attic room and dances were held in the lofts of barns above sleepy cows. But what if you could take your children to a place where they could experience these things for themselves? Where they could see the homes, barns, carriages, and items used over 150 years ago? That place is Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms!

Pioneer Farms is a fantastic place, less than an hour from Bastrop, where families can explore several different sites set up to depict various aspects of pioneer life.

The tour starts at Sprinkle Corner, where several homes have been arranged to create a town. Visitors start at the general store, where all sorts of old-time candies, books, and gifts are available as mementoes of the visit.

The village also offers several amazing exhibits that change periodically. Currently, you can see memorabilia from Texas Native American tribes like the Tonkawa. The farm is also hosting an exhibit of several types of carriages and buggies.

After the village, comes a beautiful Victorian home from a wealthy 1887 cotton farmer. This home is fully furnished with 1880's era furniture, toys, and fixtures, including a chandelier that servants could raise and lower with a pulley to light the candles.

Across from the house is the huge barn, where the farm still holds barn dances for special events. Peek over the stable wall to see the hay chute, or you can stroll outside to see a display of farm equipment.

Kids will enjoy petting the farm's menagerie of friendly animals, which includes donkeys, hogs, horses, and Texas Longhorns.

A short walk down the hill will bring you to several more cabins from slightly different time periods, including an 1873 Texian farm and an 1868 German Emigrant Farm. Here, thirteen children lived in a one-room home.

Children will also enjoy visiting the Tonkawa Indian encampment where they can climb inside a tipi. This campsite was really used by Native Americans in 1841.

I have visited Pioneer Farms several times since my teenage years, and I have learned something new every time. You can visit their website to see their event calendar, find out about special classes, and learn how to become a volunteer. The farm offers special teaching events for teachers and for home schooling families. Blacksmith demonstrations and other activities are offered periodically as well, and the Christmas Candlelight Tour is especially wonderful!

Pioneer Farms has a small admission fee to help preserve the farm for future generations. Currently, the farm is opened Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, but make sure to check their website before you plan your trip. The Farm is located at 10621 Pioneer Farms Drive in Austin, Texas, close to the Parmer/Braker Lane area.

Most of the homes and buildings are stroller/wheelchair accessible, but the roads might prove a bit difficult to navigate when it's muddy. Also, be sure to wear comfortable shoes, because quite a bit of walking must be done to see everything there is to see.

Angela Castillo is an author and mother of three who lives in Bastrop, Texas. She is the author of the "Toby the Trilby" series as well as several other books and short stories. Currently, her book "The Amazing Adventures of Toby the Trilby" (the first book in the Toby the Trilby series) can be downloaded to your Kindle for free on Amazon. Angela and her sister, Cherie Haines, also run Fairygirl Photo, where you can purchase greeting cards, photos, and other gifts.

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