Historical interpreters at the Oliver H. Kelley Farm will tell you that sustainable farming and the localtarian diet are nothing new. Still, those who could use a helping of gratitude for modern conveniences can visit the farm on Sunday to get a taste of late 19th-century Minnesota farm life.

The 189-acre Kelley Farm has sponsored these winter events for the past three years, after several years of hoping to expand their programming. Now, the farm is open one afternoon a month during the winter. Costumed historical guides lead visitors on a tour of the farmstead and trails, offering hands-on lessons about the work, play and survival skills of our forebears.

How much do you know about 1850s Minnesota farm life? Turn to Page AA4 to take a quiz, created with help from farm staff members Ann Olson Bercher and Emily Organ.

1. What was the primary mode of winter transportation for Minnesota farmers in the 1850s?

a. Horseback

b. Sleigh

c. On foot

2. Why did wheat farmers look forward to winter snow?

a. They enjoyed making snow sculptures.

b. It gave the kids something to do.

c. It made the nights brighter.

d. It insulated the winter wheat crop.

3. Where did farmers get fruit in the winter?

a. Cub Foods.

b. From southern states, via the riverboats.

c. From fruit preserves made in warmer months.

4. What was the primary foodstuff in late winter?

a. Game and preserved meat

b. Dried beans

c. Root vegetables kept in the cellar

d. Pickles

e. All of the above

5. How many layers did people wear in the 1850s to keep warm outdoors?

a. 1

b. 2

c. 3

d. As many as they could.

6. Which animals on the farm worked hardest in the winter?

a. Oxen

b. Horses

c. Chickens

d. Dairy cows

7. How did 1850s farmers heat the barns?

a. Kerosene heaters

b. Wood stove

c. Steam heat

d. They didn't.

8. Why did the kitchen become the central winter gathering place?

a. There was food.

b. It was brightly lit.

c. There were chairs.

d. It was warm.

9. What was Minnesota farmers' main crop in the 1850s?

a. Soybeans

b. Potatoes

c. Wheat

d. Wild rice


1. Woolen long underwear often was itchy. If you had to choose, would you rather be cold or itchy?

2. What would you think about a whole winter spent at home with no one but your spouse and your kids?

3. Which modern convenience would you miss most? Running water? Garbage pickup? Sanitary products and diapers? Television or radio? Telephone? Car? Video games? Polar fleece? Washing machines and dishwashers?

Answers: 1. c, 2. d, 3. c, 4. e, 5. d, 6. a, 7. d, 8. d, 9. c.