Thursday, January 6, 2011

Windmill On My Mind

The New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum's emphasis, as you might imagine, was on the agricultural history of New Mexico from the 1300s to the present, antique farm machinery, and rural life over the past decades.

Located on the campus of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, the Museum has four permanent exhibits and a special exhibit which caught our attention: "The Origins and Cultural Significance of the Chile Pepper in New Mexico."

We began with the exhibit "Moving Around," which focuses on transportation and includes wagons, maps and a facade of a railroad depot is one of the four major components of the Farm Life in New Mexico exhibit. The chuck wagon looked as though a fine meal could still be served from its resources even today.

The exhibit "Home Sweet Home" is a component of the exhibit: "Farm Life in New Mexico: Then & Now." "Home Sweet Home" is described as "a cozy, two-room floor plan that includes a kitchen and a parlor created to look like the inside of a rural New Mexico home in the 1920s-30s. The exhibit includes a walkway between the rooms so Museum visitors can get close to the objects and enjoy the feel of actually walking through the home."

Among the many interesting artifacts in the exhibit are a 1927 General Electric Monitor-Top refrigerating machine, a 1923 Brunswick Model 101 portable phonograph,

a wood-burning stove and Mission-style furniture,

along with numerous kitchen gadgets, canning jars, crockery and personal items.

The two household instruments shown here are early clothing presses.

The other two main exhibits are: "On the Farm," which includes a tool shed and various farm implements, and "Going to Town," which focuses on community life and includes an expanded mercantile typical of the early 1900s that also has a walk-through environment and features a post office display.

Included among the kitchen ware, canned goods, pots and pans, and children's toys are this "Acme the 5 minute Ice Cream Freezer" (left) and a pressure cooker (below).

The exhibit on chile peppers introduced us to Fabian Garcia, known as the "Father of the Mexican Food Industry."

Garcia began the chile-breeding work that would ultimately lead to the release, in 1921, of New Mexico No. 9--the first standardized variety of the now-familiar New Mexico chile pepper.

The state Legislature named the chile as a state vegetable in 1965 and designated "Red or Green?” as the state question in 1996, in reference to whether you prefer red or green chile on your food.

Another display featured the Dempster Vaneless Windmill. Now I have either not seen one of these during my 20-some years living in the Midwest or I am really not very observant.

The Dempster Mill Manufacturing Company was established in 1878 by C.B. Dempster, a native of Carpentersville, Illinois.

I believe this is the Dempster No. 4 which was produced from 1916 to the 1920s. Popular in the Central Plains, this windmill had a design which moved the blades in such a way that the windmill was self-regulating as it "matched" the speed of the wind.

I have to read up more on this windmill, because I really like its design.

The courtyard of this beautiful museum opens up for this view of the Organ Mountains to the east.

Back to the research.

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