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Antique agriculture on display in Grand Ledge

GRAND LEDGE, MI -- As Sara Charette guided her sons past the hand-cranked butter churn, the hand-turned cherry stoner and the old-fashioned sauerkraut crock, she hoped the boys would have a little more appreciation for their favorite treats back home in the cupboard.

The 32-year-old mother from Mulliken brought her sons, 8-year-old Ethan and 3-year-old Micah, to the Farm to Table exhibit at the Grand Ledge Historical Museum to expose them to the kind of work it used to take to feed a family.

"I think we're pretty disconnected from how things were once done," she said. "We can't take for granted all the things we have in this world."

That's exactly the point of the months-long exhibit, said Ethelen Herbstreit, president of the Grand Ledge Area Historical Society, which owns the museum at 118 W. Lincoln St.

The exhibit, tucked into a restored 19th-Century Gothic Revival house, features a broad range of antiques showing old-fashioned farming techniques, most of it from the Grand Ledge area. There's a 1910 ice cream scoop and an apiarist suit, old glass milk bottles and an antique lard press. There's a fanning mill manufactured in Grand Ledge and an old chick-hatching incubator. There are also black-and-white photos of old downtown Grand Ledge businesses such as Cade's Grocery.

Herbstreit chuckled a she showed an old-timey cow-milking operation, saying, "This is unusual to see all this. Today, cows are all plugged in."

There's even a 70-year-old Christmas cactus that belonged to the last owner of the house that actually lived there. The historical society took over the house from the First United Methodist Church in 1984.

Herbstreit, who remembered doing some of the work showcased at the exhibit in her youth, said she hoped visitors would "see how agriculture was done in the past, how we did all these chores ... They should come to an appreciation of what they have today."