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Down Rural Roads

The first class will explore how the method of storing green forage became a boom to the livestock industry in the United States. We will follow this 'new' technology as it developed from its humble and controversial beginnings in the 1870's to today's state of the art feeding systems. There will be a disclosure of a monument to silos in Augusta County. The class on barns will range from a 1753 log barn in Page County to today's modern styles. Most of the barns in the Shenandoah Valley are based on either English, German, or 'Swisher' styles. There will be interesting stories about some of the local barns which survived the 'Burning' during the Civil War. The lament about the destruction and decay of old barns is somewhat offset by a few restoration efforts. The title 'Down Rural Roads' comes from this class which looks at the changing landscape of farming in the Valley. Local statistics will show the impact of development on Valley farmland. Through old and new photographs, we will trace the drastic changes in farming over the past seventy-five years. Included will be new innovations in crops, machinery, and both the poultry and dairy industries. The final class will take a lighthearted look at some of the art and humor to be found in our everyday surroundings. Included in this survey will be sculptures, paintings, advertisements, roadside signs, and many folk-art mailboxes. A field trip to two local dairy farms will showcase the latest technology available. We will see two of the largest silos in the United States and also watch robots both feed and milk the cows. Tyre Yancey is a retired farmer and Jane is a retired teacher. They have spent over fifteen years traveling the back roads of the Shenandoah Valley photographing and documenting the last vestiges of our agricultural heritage as well as the latest innovations in the poultry and dairy industries. This material is included in the Massanutten Regional Library's 2006 'Vanishing Farms' book titled 'Tyre Yancey, Locustcrest Farm, and his Photographic Compendium of Valley Farm Structures'. In 2012 Tyre and Jane published 'RFD Folk Art' containing 370 photographs of unique and folk-art mailboxes.

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