Week 1 completed, that’s 25% of my internship. Sacrewell farm is now ~0.5% closer to the public unveiling of their collection.
The William Scott Abott Trust is an agricultural education charity with a visitor’s centre near Peterborough. This idyllic site, with its 18th century water mill, charismatic staff and farmyard animals, is my office for 4 weeks. What a hardship for me to bare! Leisurely walking round the 550 acre organic fields and visiting the alpaca on my lunch break.
When I’m not enjoying the beautiful setting I am focused on cataloguing their collection of farm equipment. Ranging from a 7m long hay baler machine to a 20cm spanner. The collection has been growing steadily with no official system of storing or identifying the objects. Much of it has been untouched for years, encrusted with dirt and entwined with weeds. There is a race against time to save the objects from the weather and arrange them a permanent home at the farm where they can be enjoyed by the public.
STEP 1: set up a cataloguing system
I sought help from the Museum of English Rural Life, Reading. I met with the Assistant Curator, who was extremely knowledgeable and keen to share their successful cataloguing system. As I am starting Scarewell’s cataloguing system from scratch I am using Microsoft Excel for its adaptability and ease of use, plus it’s free!
STEP 1.5: unforeseen problems
The week also involved a ‘fun’ afternoon of clearing the rubble/weeds/dried leaves from the collection storage areas in 32*C. It was worth the mess and dust filled air as it uncovered a few hidden treasures.
STEP 2: identify objects using my own knowledge & online research
This is when I really began to imagine how things were used on the farm. They ceased being just rusty and rotten objects and became tools which farmers spent hours using to work the land and bring food to our tables.
STEP 3: get second opinions and correctly identify all objects
The project is progressing faster than I had anticipated. Great news as I can dig deeper into the storage areas and identify more objects from the seemingly infinite collection…
…STEP 4: grow the archive
The week ended Friday afternoon with my laptop and camera giving up the ghost simultaneously. Thank goodness I had been backing up my work! This blog comes to you from a fully repaired laptop. Bring on week 2!