Hundreds of people visited the Rentschler Farm Museum for the Saline Area Historical Society’s annual Harvest Time event.
Guests enjoyed tractor-pulled wagon rides, pet an eight-day old Brown Swiss calf from the Drake Farm, painted pumpkins, toured the farm house, visited the sheep and chickens, took in a short play by the Saline Area Players, learned about quilting and old fashioned games, and visited with a couple of exhibitors stationed around the farm grounds.
Al Rentschler, who was born in 1938 and lived on the Rentschler Farm until he was 20, volunteered at the event with his wife, Florine. Al was the youngest of seven siblings. The Rentschlers grew many crops on their 216-acre farm: hay, oats, corn, and wheat. Many of those crops were used to feed animals.
Rentschler remembers having to do chores on some mornings before school.
“But I was the lucky one in the family. I was the youngest and I played a lot of sports, so I was at football practice, basketball practice and baseball practice after school,” Rentschler said.
Harvest season was a busy time for the family.
“I remember the threshing machine – the threshing of the oats and the wheat. The other farmers in the area would come in and help get the crops in,” Rentschler said.
It was also a busy time for a farmer’s wife. Florine said Al’s mother would get up at 4 a.m.
“She would start her bread and begin preparing the main meal. It was often a pot roast. Most everything was from their garden. They would have potatoes. Ford hook lima beans was a big thing at their house,” Florine said.
Al’s mother was also known for her German pretzels.
“On any Saturday, when you wanted to come here, you’d open that back door and you could smell the warm cinnamon rolls that she baked. It was wonderful,” Florine said. “It’s a wonderful memory.”
Life on the farm was busy. About the only downtime they had was when it rained.
“We’d go fishing at North Lake up by Chelsea. It was very rare. It had to rain to be able to do something like that,” Al recalled. “There was always work to do.”
In the winter, there were repairs to do on machinery and around the farm.
The Rentschlers are glad to see so many people tour the old family farm.
The farm house and property is now owned by the City of Saline, which bought the property in 1998 at an auction. The city maintains the property and the Saline Area Historical Society manages the museum, runs programming and helps fundraise to do maintenance,
Al’s older brother Warren and his wife, Marilyn, were the last private owners of the property. Warren and Marilyn are both 94 and in an Ann Arbor assisted living center. Both remain proud of the Rentschler Farm Museum.
“It’s a wonderful tribute to Saline to take time to keep everything in good repair. It’s a live and running, which is wonderful,” Florine said.
“My brother was very proud of being part of this farm and he’s proud of what’s here now,” Al said.
The Rentschler Farm Museum is located at 1265 E. Michigan Ave., a mile east of downtown Saline. The museum will close for the winter but reopen for a Christmas on the Farm event in December.
The Depot Museum is open all year from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 402 N. Ann Arbor St.
Below are more videos and pictures from the Harvest Time at the Rentschler Farm Event.