Crop of oats seeded under sunny skies

4-H yard sale325resizedDSCF1640man&daughtersoxenDSCF1639DSCF1632brown horse teamPostponing Planting Day turned out to be an excellent decision this year. Instead of last week’s rain we had sunny skies, warm temperatures, and enough wind to keep blackflies at bay. Ice cream was a popular item at the Cookhouse, along with the usual burgers and dogs.

Plowing, harrowing, and seeding a crop of oats was trouble-free, with three teams of horses, a team of oxen, and an antique tractor all taking part. Check out the photos, and pay attention to the three teams in one shot: a four-horse hitch on springtooth harrows, the last team on disc harrows. Children, as always, amused themselves well. The area’s 4-H groups held an indoor yard sale a week earlier, and repeated the event while Planting Day took place.

Note: the last photo, of a Haflinger team, had won 126 likes on the Nova Scotia Haflinger’s Facebook page within the next couple of days. Where else but at Northville Farm Heritage Centre can you still see work horses actually working?

Planting DayPostponed! (May 21)




Coming up fast – our annual Planting Day! Come see teams of horses, oxen, and antique tractors working the land as they did in the olden days. A 4-H group will be holding a yard and bake sale at the same time. The Cookhouse will be ready with yummy hamburgers and hot dogs. You can tour the buildings to see the newly organized artifact displays, so there’s lots to see. Little ones seem to enjoy the swing set and sandbox once they’ve had enough of horses. We hope you’ll join us for this trip back in time.

Have you seen this Porsche?

Porsche closeup

Tractor lovers in the NFHC often spend many hours lovingly restoring an old piece of rust, turning out a real showpiece. In case you missed earlier photos, here’s the Porsche that Jos VanOostrum brought back to life last year. The photo above shows the finished project; the ones below show what it looked like to begin with. This Porsche took many hours of elbow grease and considerable expertise.






Winter Frolic comes into its own

This year marks our third annual Winter Frolic, and did it ever bring out a good crowd of people! Even though last year’s event had wonderful sunshine and this year was overcast with temperatures around -8°, the crowd must have been twice as big. In fact, our chief cook and bottle washer had to go for more wieners and buns barely halfway through the event.

The three big attractions at Winter Frolic are the sleigh rides, the wiener roast with its marshmallows and hot chocolate, and the big man-made snow hill. A large number of youngsters had brought their sleds to tackle that hill, its sides a challenging climb.  Anyone getting chilled was able to warm up by the Blacksmith Shop’s wood stove and forge, and in Heritage Hall. Three teams of heavy horses pulled full sleighs, taking turns at times to give the horses a break.

Besides the actual festivities, visitors were able to tour the buildings, where the process of reorganizing artifacts is well underway. But why use words to describe it all? The photos below will tell you how Winter Frolic went. Click on any photo to enlarge it.


wienerssleigh2spinning wheelstoo burnt?om sleighkid in snowup that hill!blacksmithsleighold crafts

Recently acquired artifacts

Gathering up “new” artifacts is an ongoing concern at NFHC. People will call up to say they’re moving, or they’re cleaning out their barn, or perhaps the farm has been sold… there are many reasons for individuals donating items to us. Directors will discuss what we already have to see whether something new should be accepted, since storage and display space is limited. If the item in question is a duplicate to what we already have, it might be turned down. Usually a director will go and see what it looks like. If it’s too bulky, or possibly in very bad shape, it could also be turned down.

Most artifacts are gratefully accepted, however. The photos in this post show some of our newest acquisitions. From top to bottom, they include:

  1. a mink muff to keep a girl’s hands warm
  2. two quilts. One (mauve) is a Dresden Plate, hand pieced by Maie Bentley (1884-1942), hand quilted by Billtown Baptist Church quilting group in 2015. The other (yellow) is a Pinwheel Star – Barbara Frietschie, hand pieced by Maie Bentley or her mother Becky (1851-1936), hand quilted by Billtown Baptist Church in 2014. Both donated by the Bentley family, signed by Margaret Bentley, granddaughter of Maie Bentley.
  3. a mangle iron for ironing sheets. It has all steel construction.
  4. a cream separator
  5. several copies of Blacksmith Magazine from 1940 and 1941.



It’s a mystery to us!

Among artifacts being re-organized at NFHC this winter is an item that none of us can identify. We are posting various pictures of it here in the hope that some visitor to the site may know what it is. If anyone has an older relative with a farming background, please ask them to help. What could it be? If you can help, please contact us at:



More apple stencils added to NFHC collection

DSCF1353         stencils

We’ve had a few dozen apple stencils in our collection for some time, but a recent addition has more than doubled that number. A donation from Bill and Mary Swetnam of Sheffield Mills has resulted in a second large wall display in the cooper shop. Many of the varieties shown have long since disappeared from Nova Scotia orchards, such as Jenneting, Maiden’s Blush, Laxton’s Superb, and Fallawater.

In fact, C.M. Collins noted in the 1930s that Valley orchardists grew far too many varieties of apples. Annual admonitions from speakers at the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers (NSFGA) annual convention repeated that theme. Some varieties just didn’t produce enough fruit, lacked sufficient quality for easy marketing, or otherwise dragged down the performance of the apple industry.

Barrel stencils were used to paint the name of each variety on each three-bushel wooden barrel before leaving packing houses along the railroad tracks. Some of the larger packers printed colourful and well designed paper labels to do the same thing. NFHC has a couple of these labels on display in Heritage Hall.

An earlier donation to NFHC, a large 1941 calendar, turned out to hold a complicated four-way graph on the back, carefully hand drawn by some long-gone bookkeeper. Although the pencilled writing was badly faded in spots, we found that this record enumerated that portion of the 1941 apple crop that was handled by the North Mountain Fruit Company at Woodville. All the growers’ names were there, as well as the varieties they shipped, and the volume, in barrels, of each variety.

With 2015’s events at NFHC now over, work continues on maintenance of buildings and collection of artifacts. Volunteers show up on Wednesday mornings to do what needs to be done. If any reader of this website is willing and able, NFHC can always use some help. Our monthly directors’ meetings are held the first Thursday of each month, and anyone is welcome.

To enlarge photos, click on them.


And now, a wedding venue…




Northville Farm Heritage Centre has been used for many different events, but on October 10, 2015, it became a wedding venue for the first time. Ronee-Lee Farris and Eric Gillis were married by a justice of the peace on the veranda of the Carriage House. Guests were seated on chairs and at picnic tables in front of the couple, under sunny skies with a cool fall wind.

Both Ronee-Lee and Eric wanted a rustic, farm-type background for their photos, and NFHC can certainly provide that. Perhaps this event was the first of many more weddings here. Couples could also come here just to take their photos, with North Mountain as the scenic background.


Finally, some sun for tractor pull

After several days of rain, which caused the Fall Tractor Pull to be postponed for a day, the sun shone on Northville Farm Heritage Centre. People of all ages were able to attend, including a number of children and even a baby. Although the adults focused on the tractors competing to pull the heaviest weights, the kids entertained themselves quite nicely. The antique hand pump mounted in between a couple of NFHC buildings has challenged them for a number of years: can you actually get water out of that? A new swing set, with antique equipment seats, was similarly of interest.

The track had been packed down especially hard before the event – and before the rain – but all the water that fell still made it necessary to grade the surface in between weight classes. Only Mike Sandford made the full pull of 250 feet, with his 1963 Cockshutt, in the 11,000 lb. class.

“It was still pretty good day”, says chairman Jos VanOoostrum. “People seemed to be having a good time.”

About twenty tractors took part, with an average of three hookups each.

248 copy058 copy287 copy121 copy137 copy153 copy112 copyDSCF1286