Demonstrating traditional and sustainable ways

Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Angela Burns, wife of Craig Burns, pulls sun-ripened sorghum from the fields to turn into molasses for an upcoming demonstration on Saturday, Oct. 12. The couple will demonstrate traditional farming methods and offer interested individuals an opportunity to participate in the experience. The event will begin at 10 a.m. and end at dusk. Democrat photo/Kerry Hays

Craig and Angela Burns will open their farm to the public on Saturday, Oct. 12 to demonstrate traditional farming methods and offer interested individuals an opportunity to participate in the experience. The event will begin at 10 a.m. and end at dusk.

"There will be free samples of molasses, and I might even make some biscuits," said Craig Burns who also noted that this event is a community effort combining the skills of a variety of people.

Hiram King purchased a team of mules from Burns several years ago while he was working at the University of Texas. King worked as a construction superintendent for various building projects on campus where he also used his skills to build a mule-drawn wagon.

"I was working at the University of Texas, and I built a wagon there to travel around the country in and vocalize exactly what we're doing here," said King. "They put a fence around it to keep the tourists out."

King travels from farm to farm and he learns different things and shares old-fashioned approaches along the way. His main purpose is to learn and teach about sustainability and how to re-use and recycle old farming materials.

"There's a lot of different things in this farm alone that have been put into action," said King who also revealed that everything in the barn has been totally recycled.

The main focus of the event on Oct. 12 will be sorghum making using traditional techniques. Burns planted and cultivated his half-acre crop with a team of horses. A horse has also been used to turn the press, which squeezes the juice from the cane. Burns developed and built the pole system used for hitching the horse to the system.

The juice is captured in a 100-gallon tub that is connected to an underground piping system, which uses gravity to deliver the juice to the evaporator pan. The sorghum is cooked using a brick stove that was made by King.

"We picked up the bricks from this place that were discarded and thrown away," said Burns. "All the wood used to heat [the stove] is what we tore off of old barns that were going to be burned down."

Burns will receive assistance from an Amish community in the area for this event. Homer Brenneman is part of an Amish family that has offered counsel and advice to Burns on traditional farming approaches. Brenneman and his family live and work on the Burns farm. Brenneman's father will also be part of the experience.

"They're going to set up inside the barn," said Burns. "They're going to sell pies, cakes, and breads -- things like that. It's been a big community effort."

Work is currently underway to make sorghum for the event and King is encouraging anyone who is interested to visit the farm and become part of the experience.

"If you know of anyone who would like to participate in this, please ask them to come," said King. "They don't have to just come here on the 12th, they can come anytime between now and then. We're going to constantly be making sorghum."

King sees this event as an opportunity to meet a growing demand for demonstrating old fashioned and sustainable ways of living.

"What's going on here is that we're trying to show tradition," said King. "We're trying to keep it going and hopefully it will turn into an annual thing. A really good fall festival -- something for people to see and do."

The Burns farm is found by taking Highway W three miles east of Wheaton to Farm Road 1040. Turn south on Farm Road 1040.

If you're coming from Cassville, take Highway 37 and turn west on Highway W (near George's). Follow Highway W to Farm Road 1040 and turn south. There's a sign for Solid Rock Baptist Church at the intersection of Highway W and Farm Road 1040. The farm is about a mile down the road at 13610 Farm Road 1040.

In case of inclement weather, all events will take place in the barn.

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