Connemara Field Trip

Note: the black and whites are photographs of the displays at Connemara National Historic Site. 

Am I the only one who forgets about great places nearby until we want to show house guests the area? I’ve had a little cabin fever this year with all the days when it’s just been too cold to get outside. When I saw that weekend temps would be 65, I declared it a field trip day and laid plans for an outing.  Not to Ireland, but to Flat Rock, North Carolina to visit Connemara. It’s a National Historic Site run by the Park Service: 245 acres of rolling hills, hiking trails, mountain views, champion goats and the Carl and Paula Sandburg home and farm.

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I thought of Connemara and the Sandburgs because my Dad gave me a book to read — an 800 page biography by Penelope Niven, a friend of a friend of my parents. I thought  visiting the Sandburg home would be the perfect thing to do before diving into the tome.

Carl's office.

Carl’s office.

Books, Books, Books!

Books and music, music and books!

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After a pleasant lunch nearby, we ditched the car in the parking lot and walked to the house and farm — in the sunshine — without coats. Hallelujah! Speaking of winter, the Sandburgs tired of Michigan winters and moved south to Flat Rock in 1945. That weather had been especially hard on Mrs. Sandburg, often out in the elements with her champion goats, so she took herself down to the southern appalachians and bought Conemara!  The really neat thing about the house is that it’s pretty much the way they left it after living there for 22 years. The volunteers and skeleton park staff do a great job of keeping it that way.

The family's kitchen.

The family’s kitchen.

Mrs . Sandburg receiving an award. She raised Nubians, Tottenburgs and Saanens and was known for her skill at breeding highest quality, high production milk goats.

Mrs . Sandburg receiving an award. She raised Nubians, Tottenburgs and Saanens and was known for her skill at breeding highest quality, high production milk goats. She started raising goats when she was 53 and continued throughout her life.

Favorite things: the 10,000 or so books that line the walls ; Mrs. Sandburg’s office full of goat-keeping records, trophies and ribbons; the farm and goats; the guitar, piano and loads of music books; the 1940s kitchen and the light in the milk processing shed to name a few…

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Some of the current herd.

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A cap from their goat milk carton.

A cap from the cylindrical goat milk cartons.

The milk processing shed.

The milk processing shed.

The bulletin board in Mrs. Sandburg's office.

The bulletin board in Mrs. Sandburg’s office.

We didn’t get to the 5 miles of hiking trails that day, but look forward to a return visit.  We took the long way home on winding back roads to feast on tender, slow-cooked pork shoulder (the crock pot had done its work while we played) and gingery apple slaw (I’ll post the recipe).  A lovely end to a lovely day.