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Since Massachusetts is only about 27 miles outside of Albany, NY, we drove over to Pittsfield where we visited a former Shaker village. It is located in the beautiful Berkshires Mountains.
The weather was sunny with Autumn's approaching crisp air. And as we drove through the countryside we could see that the trees just beginning to show the change of color. We all thought how lovely it is to be living on the East Coast after living in the desert for so many years.
We entered the village and sat through a short video, then gathered up a map and went to visit the 1200 acre sight. Without a doubt the most interesting structure was the round dairy barn. Ajacent to this structure was the holding pens where we saw sheep, hogs, piglets, a chicken, ducks, calves, and a lamb.
Danny and Davy spent a little bit of time in the Discovery Room where I did encourage them to try to milk the artifical cow. A bit hesitant but willing to obey their Mom, they sat and tried milking and provided us with some ewe's! When I inquired how was it milking a cow, they remarked it was not easy.
We saw many various buildings which all had the Shaker simplistic look. There was a garden shed which had drying trays. A building with a room dedicated to making brooms, another for chairs, and basket weaving. Another building for wood working and laundry. And many buildings for the 300 Shakers living there at one time. Everything was neat and orderly. Even the gardens, both vegetable and herbs were all well kept.
Shakers were required to sign a contact in order to be a member, but before signing they would give outsiders the opportunity to live with them and work to see if this was what they wished to do. Many times entire family's joined.
Shakers do not believe in procreation so the membership could grow through adoption or converts. As there were only brothers and sisters in this faith, family's were divided and lived as though everyone was their family. We heard that children by the age of 5 were removed from their Mother. Shaker men and women believed that they were all equal so they would have quarters in the same building. But their quarters were divided with the women on one side and men on the other.
We learned that during the times of singing they might also dance. In one report a vistor spoke of their time spent with the Shakers and said that 'men are on one side and women on the other. No one speaks at all when they come to sing and dance. There is absolutely no contact between opposite sexes. When they were done singing two women came forward and spun in the middle of the room for 15 minutes and then suddenly returned as though nothing had happened.
In the faith The Shakers also were known for speaking in unknown tongues. And the were originaly called the Shaking Quakers but later became known as the Shakers.