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Wooly Day ~ Rocky Mount Museum ~ Piney Flats, TN

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If you would like to have a sheep shearingly good time, visit Rocky Mount Museum on Wooly Day. This Living History Museum in the gently rolling hills of Piney Flats, TN has so much to offer: beautiful mountain views, a living history center with authentic homes from the 1700's, a museum, historians, and picnic grounds to boot.

The Revolutionary War era comes alive as living historians reenact for visitors what life was like on a Tennessee farm, as the western frontier of North Carolina was expanding.

As spring begins to warm the Southeast, Rocky Mount's annual Wooly Day happens each year around Easter. It is a celebration of the long process of making wool, from "sheep to shear, "spinning to weaving fabric.

We entered the beautiful Rocky Mount area, directly off 11E in Piney Flats, just north of Johnson City. We paid at the front entrance, and as we drove up the slope, it was obvious that something special was happening. The pastures around the barn were filled with all sorts of shaggy sheep, of all shapes and sizes, waiting to be shorn. As you gaze out across the gently rolling hills and mountains, it is easy to see how it got the name Rocky Mount!

Rounding the corner by the barn, a crowd of people stood watching a living historian in full Revolutionary dress,  patiently clipping a sheep with what looked like a giant pair of flat scissors. Yes, by hand. No buzzing power tools. Agile and focused, he was busy balancing the sheep, the shears, and a robust round of questions from the crowd. Once a year this cycle begins again. The sheep are herded into pens, quietly waiting their turn with the expert clipper who is using the shears like they have from ancient times through the Industrial Revolution.

         He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
         Yet He did not open His mouth;
         Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
         And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
         So He did not open His mouth.                           Isaiah 53:7

 is so easily seen in the sheep shearing at Rocky Mount, especially the weekend before Easter.

Activity buzzed all over the Living History Farm, just as their website proclaimed with "spinning, weaving, cooking, gardening, and activities relating to springtime on a farm.  Tour the historic site and visit with the Cobbs as they celebrate the passing of the harsh winter, and prepare for the new growing season. This year features our newly designed vegetable and kitchen gardens, to be filled with heirloom flowers, herbs and vegetables grown in early America.  The Bristol Forge Group will be in the blacksmith shop."

We also thoroughly enjoyed a demonstration of the flax plant and how it is turned into cloth. Flax is another topic that is constantly mentioned in the Bible, yet barely understood in modern times. A small cabin featured another historian, patiently processing the dried flax plant. Hanging up in the bottom of the cabin, she told us that it would take 18 months for flax to go from field to fabric.

First you prepare the field and plant the flax, about 3-4 acres a year at Rocky Mount. Weather determined the yield. Flax was harvested and hung upside down in the barn to dry. When it was time to begin processing, the long pokey dried flowers were put into a flax break, a wooden device that pounds the dried husky fibers off, leaving less crispy, slightly softer flax strands. Those are moved back and forth over a shucking board, a tall wooden board, softening a bit more. Then the hank of flax, looking like a bedraggled girls ponytail on a windy day, is run through the torturous looking "hackles," which look like a wooden paddle with nails sticking up. A few passes through results in a softening flax, ready to be spun into thread for weaving. The hackles are cleaned out, and twisted together as a strong rope, used all over the farm. The chaff is swept up for kindling the kitchen fires. Not an ounce of the flax is wasted, it is all used. Processing flax is a spring/summer/fall job, using natural sunlight. Never is a candle or spark of any kind used in the cabin, it is all too easy for the flax to go up in flames.

What is so great about living history is how it makes life come alive from different time periods. Obviously, we love the Lord and reading His word! There are many biblical references to flax, from Rahab hiding the Israelite spies on her roof, under the flax, to the description of the "excellent" Proverbs 31 woman.

     An excellent wife, who can find?
         For her worth is far above jewels.
    11The heart of her husband trusts in her,
         And he will have no lack of gain.
    12She does him good and not evil
         All the days of her life.
    13She looks for wool and flax
         And works with her hands in delight.

See our review of Rocky Mount Living History Museum for more on the adventures of the Cobb Family in the 1700's!

LivingHistorySites.com had a phenomenally pleasant day at Wooly Day and highly recommends visiting Rocky Mount for their regular living history programs, school days, homeschool days, and special events. You learn a million new things with each visit!

Cost $5.00 per person ($1 additional to make candles, or hand dye eggs)

Rocky Mount Museum ~ Piney Flats, TN

200 Hyder Hill Road off 11E

Piney Flats, TN  37686

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1-888-538-1791 (toll free)
1-423-538-7396 (voice)
1-423-538-1086 (fax)