Thursday, October 1, 2009

Michaela Farm

P.E.O. had the opportunity to travel to Oldenburg to tour Michaela Farm and the Convent of the Sisters of St. Francis. It was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed touring and learning about the farm with Sister Carolyn.

The barn is a beautiful brick structure, L-shaped, with two levels. The upper floor is currently used for hay and straw storage, with a small section for the sale of herbs, produce, eggs, and beefalo raised on their farm. The lower level houses their beefalo herd during the winter. They raise beefalo for their lean and tasty meat. That is according to Sister Carolyn. We did not try any for ourselves.
The herb garden grows in the spot where they formerly had a pig pen. They no longer have pigs on the farm, but the rich fertilization of the soil made it the perfect spot to grow herbs. The ladies enjoyed exploring the beautiful garden and savoring the sweet smell of a wide variety of herbs.

This is a milkweed plant growing near the herb garden. They currently have chickens on the farm, providing fresh eggs for the convent as well as for sale to the community.

The farm celebrated the 100th birthday of the barn in June 2009. Each section of the L-shaped barn is 140 feet long, and 40 feet wide. All the bricks used during its construction were made in Oldenburg.

Following our farm tour, we went up to the convent for a tour. We were greeted by 2 Sisters, who divided us into 2 groups and directed us on a fascinating tour of their facility.

The beautiful staircase was quite impressive, climbing 4 stories. It is possible to stand at the bottom and see up to the skylights on the roof. The stairway is iron, and features beautiful mosaics on the landing.

Above, Sister Mary Paul tells us some of the many historical facts about the convent.

The chapel is beautiful, and features pillars made of Vermont marble. Sister Mary Paul told us a bit about the task of moving the massive pillars to Indiana for the construction. She also told us about the chapel, and some of the special features and design. There are currently no kneelers, she said with a smile, due to the fact that many of the Sisters have artificial knees.

Their dining room has several beautiful huge murals, and most of the artwork in the convent has been done by the Sisters themselves. An interesting feature of the dining room is the unique barrel shaped radiators in the center of the room. By the time we got to this point in the tour, we were wondering if we would be asked to stay for supper. Sister Mary Paul was very thorough in her tour, and at 80 years of age, was wearing out her younger tourists!

Most of our group posed for a quick photo following the tour on the steps in front of the convent. We look a little more fatigued than the two Sisters who enthusiastically shared their home with us. In fact, we were a bit concerned that we may never find the front door again!

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