~ A Birthday Blast for Comstock, Ferre & Co. ~

We first heard about Comstock, Ferre & Co.‘s 200th Anniversary Birthday Bash when their seed catalog arrived in the mail way back in December… or was it January?

In any event, it was cold and there was lots and lots of snow…

the perfect time to start planning our gardens, devouring seed catalogs, making just the right choices to get us through the cold, bitter New England winter months…

the perfect time to make plans to visit the Comstock, Ferre & Co. in Wethersfield, Connecticut for their 200th Anniversary Birthday Bash!

Jere & Emilee Gettles, owners of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds of Mansfield, Missouri purchased the 200 year old seed company with the intention of restoring it to its former glory and continuing its heritage by carrying heirloom seeds to supply small gardeners and retail operations as well.

A dream come true.  The Gettles brought an Amish crew from Missouri to restore the historic buildings and barns and I can’t think of a better owner to understand the value of such a place and its heritage.

The day dawned clear and cool, a nip to the air, promise of a beautiful day to come… we headed out to Wethersfield (about an hour away from our Central MA home) with the excitement of a day out, surrounded by plants and history!  Nothing prepared us for such a lovely day… a lovely day indeed!

Here are some photos of our day… LOTS and LOTS of photos of the day, but it was hard, very HARD to eliminate them… we so enjoyed ourselves!

The Belden House at Comstock, Ferre & Co.

We arrived on Main Street, Wethersfield… parking was full, had to take a ride around the block in order to find a shady spot to park (the dogs joined us).

We arrive at Comstock, Ferre & Co.

Our first view of the festival… where to first???  Re-enactors in every corner… way too much fun!  A recent trip to Fort Frederick Market Fair had given us a taste for this, so excited to find more… AND so close to home!

A blacksmith selling his wares… and demonstrating in period costume!

Heating up the iron… a portable forge!

Working the iron…

… and getting the curve just right!

Just the right amount of twist!

Using the bellows to heat the coal…

This fine lady was demonstrating various needle crafts and her skilled weaving…

Tools of the trade… a lady would have had many of these implements attached to her waist (or girdle) holding her needles, scissors, thread and the like.

This little loom was for weaving cording.

Equivalent of a sweatshirt, back in the 1700’s… this shirt is a linen-cotton mix, hand-woven and hand-stitched by this fine lady who gave me instructions on how to make it without a pattern.  Can’t wait to give it a try!

Every seam was a “French seam” which covers up the raw edges and reinforces the stitching… at the shoulder seam, cotton twill tape was used for strength.

Triangular gussets were used where the shoulder meets the neck for additional strength… keeping the fabric from fraying or tearing.

Just LOVE this gusset at the bottom of the neck opening!

Detail of the turned under edge along the neck opening.

Jere Gettles talking with a few visitors.  Both Jere and Emilee were wandering in and out of the crowd, talking with visitors and taking photos… I wished I had more time to try and chat with them!  Jere’s recent interview with Zan Asha for The Renegade Farmer was so interesting and gives you a feel for what they are all about!

These guys were fun to talk to!  Great information on this replica cannon (casting of an original untouched 1750 cannon given by the British to us, hidden away and recently discovered)… so cool!

Officer’s field desk, with everything an officer would need…

This nasty little weapon was pretty neat… no mater how you throw it, it always ends with a point up… imagine the damage this baby could do to a hoof or soldier’s foot???  Evidently, they were used up to the Vietnam war.

Paul discussing the cannon with its owner…

I absolutely loved the wheels!

The type of shot which would have been fired from this cannon.

… and a close up of the cannon itself.

This fellow was displaying 18th century tools that were found on his family’s farm in Windsor, CT…

…a great collection, used by his family for generations!

So cool!

Ice saw and tongs used for harvesting ice which was stored in sawdust in the ice house for summer use!

Blueberries… yum!!!

LOVED this arbor/trellis… new project for Paul to add to the side of my new arbor!

It’s the little things that get me excited!  Can you believe they were selling plants like this???   CHEROKEE GREEN TOMATO… awesome!!!

Inside, there were lots of vendors, seeds and great things to buy!  Here are Baker Creek cups, t-shirts and hats!

A great selection of books relating to heirloom gardening…

… honey and beeswax products…

… natural fertilizers and insecticides…

… and SEEDS…

… great displays, vintage design cards…

… and candles…

… birdhouses…

… and all sorts of gardening gadgets, supplies and information!  LOVED the twine holder!

Old seed boxes and crates were everywhere… so cool!

Looks like old seed packets, but they’re packaged for 2011!!!

Walls of old file cabinets, bins and equipment!

Great twine!

You wouldn’t believe how wonderful these Swedish natural bristle brushes were!  They had vegetable brushes, nail brushes… you name it!

Pysanky eggs!  I hardly ever see them out and about… we’ve made them, a lot of work, but so worth the effort!

There were beans in jars, lots of beans as well as all these lovely drieds… so sweet!

Catholic Charities immigration assistance had an area where they were selling these gorgeous rugs and knits!

… and SEEDS!

I just LOVE the packaging!

Samples of bread dipping mixes… mmmmmmmmm, so good!

… and more SEEDS!

A view across the main floor.

… and more SEEDS!

Paul checking out the amaranth seeds…

… now tell me, where can you find amaranth seeds… not one variety, not two varieties, but 5 VARIETIES!!!  So awesome, great seed selection!

How about this variety of eggplant… couldn’t get myself to try it this year, but maybe next year’s garden???

PURPLE TOMATOES, PINK TOMATOES, GREEN TOMATOES… whatever color your heart desires… they’re here!

Heirloom Gardener magazine!  The current issue and many back issues… we carry this back at our shop, it’s awesome!  Jere & Emilee Gettles do a great job with it!

Old signs…

… and antiques!

A view of the front yard festivities!

LOVED these old drug store bottles!

FANTASTIC sign!!!

Cases of old seed catalogues, packages and related memorabilia!

Not sure if these were measures or scoops or both, but they were AWESOME!

Sacks…

.. old crates…

… machinery used in the seed industry…

LOVED this machine… I have no idea what it was used for, though!

Here is another unknown beauty!  Look at that old paint!

Emilee & Sasha Gettles at the Farmer’s Cow ice cream booth…

… it was so GOOD!!!

One of the back buildings used for speakers… Jere Gettles on the left, talking with a customer.  There were food vendors, plants and more set up out back… great stuff!

Back out front, re-enactors were set up.  Here is a basketmaker’s display…

… this lady was showing visitors how people had to write…

… and this lady was spinning naturally dyed wool…

… all naturally dyed wool yarn, the red is from cochineal (a bug which was imported in the 18th century for red dyes), the brighter orange is from cosmos!

This young family looked so sweet!

Writing samples…

… and wares.

This lady’s needlework was AWESOME!!!

She showed me this great book with photos from Winterthur Museum and look what I found!!!  I have a sampler very similar to this that my great, great, great, great, grandmother’s sister made… same era, also from the Lexington Concord area!

LOVED this guy’s coat!

The band played on!

… and we reluctantly said our farewells!

A fabulous time, wish we had more time to stay and visit with everyone, shop and enjoy… SOOOOOO… if you ever happen to be near Wethersfield, CT, be sure to stop in at Comstock, Ferre & Co. – you won’t regret it!

2 Comments

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2 responses to “~ A Birthday Blast for Comstock, Ferre & Co. ~

  1. Wow, what an amazing event! I read about them taking over that Seed Co. in the Bakers Creek Heirloom Seed Catalog this summer and thought it looked wonderful. How funny to think I would get to see it in the blog world!
    We actually attended their planting festival in Mansfield, Mo. last year (with a stop at the Laura Ingalls Wilder house and museum just up the road, naturally!) it was so much fun. I’m so amazed at what they’ve been able to do at such a young age. Makes me think I need to get cracking, lol!
    Thanks for your visit! I just love your homestead! I may be born and raised in Oklahoma, but I have such a strong connection to New England. Maybe some day I’ll amble up that way!~

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