Milling about at Home: Kevin Jensen

Kevin Jensen, the Mill Interpretation and Research Specialist at Hanford Mills Museum, on raising chickens

“My family’s been raising our latest batch of chickens on our farm in Hobart. We got them as day-old chicks about a month ago and they have been growing quickly since then. Their breed is ISA Brown. Once they start to lay in mid-August, some of them will stay on our farm and lay eggs for us to sell and some will go to other people raising chickens. My family has been raising chickens for generations and for many years our farm operated as a large scale commercial poultry farm. We’ve scaled back since then but still enjoy raising flocks of chickens.”

“There are lots of resources online for people interested in raising their own chickens, which has become an increasingly popular backyard project in recent years.”

Chickens on the Jensen farm like the shavings made by the planer at Hanford Mills.
Some Hanford Mills trivia: when he retired from the Mill, Horace Hanford made himself a “retirement office” from a chicken coop. The Retirement Office often houses exhibitors at Hanford Mills events.

Milling About at Home

hand tools at Hanford Mills

As we work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many of us in the Hanford Mills community find ourselves with extra time. We want to highlight the projects, hobbies, and pursuits people are working on at home.

Read through these short profiles and you may gain a tip or some inspiration. See how people are expressing the spirit of Hanford Mills–ingenuity, dedication, entrepreneurship, rural traditions, sustainability, and creativity–as they “mill about” at home.

  • Kevin Jensen, the Mill Interpretation and Research Specialist at Hanford Mills Museum, tells us about raising chickens

We welcome you to share how you are Milling About at Home. Maybe you are working to help others, we’d love to know about that too. “Milling about at Home” is a new and evolving project, and we welcome your suggestions.

Milling About at Home: Mark Roberts

Mark Roberts, Trustee, Hanford Mills Museum
“I work in my shop with my tools under the motto ‘use them, don’t abuse them.’ This must have been the same motto people working in the mill used when you look around at all the machines and tools that can still be used today and realize that they took care of the tools that gave them their livelihood.”

Hand tools in the woodworking shop at Hanford Mills Museum

“My first project was in 1988 with a cradle for my newborn niece.  That cradle has now received my nephew, my daughter and now her two children.  Hopefully my niece and nephew will use it for their children one day.  Since then I have built an infant’s mobile support that they lay under and play, toddler towers so the kids can stand next to Mom or Dad at the kitchen counter and help, and a learning board with knobs, dials, locks and lights.  I prefer to build useful things that have the potential to become heirlooms for future generations, that’s why I enjoy being involved in the Mill and preserving its future and its tie to the past.”

Watershed Education

Hanford Mills Watershed Education Programs (PreK-8th Grade)

When schools are open, Hanford Mills Museum educators visit schools in Delaware, Greene, and Schoharie counties.

Here are some hands-on lessons to use at home. Watch the videos and view (or print) the companion activity guides. All are welcome to use these resources to learn more about the importance of watersheds.

A watershed is an area of land where water collects and drains into a river, lake or reservoir. Much of Delaware, Greene and Schoharie counties are part of the West-of-Hudson Watershed network. More lessons and topics will be added in the near future. Have feedback? Let us know! 

Many thanks to the Catskill Watershed Corporation for funding this initiative.

 Forests & Water Health

  • Forests and trees are a crucial part of keeping watersheds healthy and sustainable. Students will learn about how our activities impact the watershed, what we can do to be more aware of our actions, and build their own tree filter.
    Recommended for Grades 4-8.
    Watch Video
    View/Print Activity Guide:   HMM Forests and Water Health Activity Guide 

Pollution and the Watershed

  • Water moves on and around the Earth in different forms. It can pick up and carry pollution as it goes. Students learn about the effects that pollution has on the water cycle by polluting and then attempting to clean up simulated lakes.
    Recommended for Grades 2-5.
    Watch Video
    View/Print  HMM Pollution Activity Guide 

 Sharing Water

  • How do people use water, and what are some ways we can all work together to share this precious resource? Students will explore how water in their community, region, and state is a shared resource.
    Recommended for Grades PreK-3.
    Watch Video
    View/Print  HMM Sharing Water Activity Guide

 Water is a Limited Resource

  • How much water is on Earth and what is available to use? Students will examine how they use water every day and compare how much water is used by houses, schools, farms, and factories. There is only so much to go around… how do we make it last?
    Recommended for Grades 4-5.
    Watch Video
    View/Print  HMM Water is a Limited Resource Activity Guide

Water Science

  • How many drops of water fit on the surface of a penny? Can water move by itself? Through a series of fun, simple experiments, students will explore some of the many interesting properties of water.
    Recommended for Grades PreK-1.
    Watch Video
    View/Print  HMM Water Science Activity Guide

Water, Water, Everywhere? The Importance of Watersheds 

  • What is a watershed? Why is it important? Why is the water in Upstate New York so clean? In this activity, students will explore watersheds and how landforms can influence the way water moves.
    Recommended for Grades 2-3.
    Watch Video
    View/Print  HMM Water Water Everywhere Activity Guide  

 Watershed Lessons by Grade Level


  • Sharing Water
  • Water Science 


  • Sharing Water
  • Water Science 

First Grade

  • Sharing Water  
  • Water Science 

Second Grade    

  • Pollution and the Watershed
  • Sharing Water 
  • Water, Water, Everywhere? The Importance of Watersheds

Third Grade 

  • Pollution and the Watershed 
  • Sharing Water
  • Water, Water, Everywhere?  The Importance of Watersheds

Fourth Grade

  • Forests & Water Health 
  • Pollution and the Watershed 
  • Water is a Limited Resource  

Fifth Grade

  • Forests & Water Health 
  • Pollution and the Watershed 
  • Water is a Limited Resource

Sixth Grade

  • Forests & Water Health 

Seventh Grade

  • Forests & Water Health 

Eighth Grade

  • Forests & Water Health      


Hanford Mills Museum is a program partner of the Creating Rural Opportunities Partnership (CROP) After School and Summer Program. Hanford Mills educators usually visit the after-school groups with hands-on enrichment activities. While students are learning at home this spring, Hanford Mills created kits that are being delivered to CROP students. Anyone though is welcome to do these activities

From its start as a seasonal sawmill in the 1840s, the Hanford family expanded the Mill to also include a gristmill, feed mill, woodworking shop, and hardware store. Today, Hanford Mills Museum shows how mills, which were once common in rural towns, operated. 

make your own crate

Make Your Own Crate
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Hanford Mills made thousands of wooden crates for local farms. Crates played a major role in shipping Delaware County’s food products. Farmers used the crates to transport vegetables and creameries used crates to ship dairy products. Enjoy making your own mini crate!

You will need:
10 long craft sticks, 16 medium craft sticks, glue 
Watch the video

Make Your Own Catapult
Even the complicated power tools that we use today are made up of at least one simple machine. Simple machines (belts and pulleys, levers, wheels and axles, inclined planes, screws and wedges) operate everything from the sawmill at Hanford Mills, to the most technologically advanced robots. This catapult is a combination of two simple machines (a lever and a wedge). How far can you launch your cotton ball?
You will need:
7 craft sticks, 7 rubber bands, 1 plastic spoon, 3 cotton balls
Watch the video

Make Your Own Zine
A zine is a mini-magazine. You can make a zine about anything that you want, but here are two ideas:

1. Living in Upstate New York gives us many wonderful opportunities to explore nature. At Hanford Mill Museum we share our site with raccoons, squirrels, chickadees, and deer. We also have many kinds of plants, including grass, maple trees, and cattails. And the Museum’s site is just one example of an animal habitat. With your zine, check out what is in your yard. What can you see? Use your zine as a journal and draw some of the different plants and animals you see! 

2. Museums take care of important objects, both old and new, and share stories about them and the people who owned/used them. If you could make a museum using things at your house, what would you want to share with other people? Choose some items that are important to you and share them with drawings and/or write about their stories.

You will need:
a sheet of paper, colored pencils, scissors
Watch the video

At-Home Activity: Trying to Clean Up

Watch Luke Murphy, Hanford Mills Museum’s Education Coordinator, do this activity in the What I Learned Wednesday Pollution video posted on 4/22. Then, follow these instructions and try it out at home.

NOTE: This activity can get messy.

 Large bowl or tray
 Smaller bowl
 Spoon
 Fork
 Strainer
 Clean water
 A few tablespoons of crushed up crackers or other food
 A few drops of liquid soap
 A few tablespoons’ worth of small pieces of paper
 Clock or timer
 Paper towels


  1. Pour water into the big bowl. Add crushed up crackers/food pieces, liquid soap, and pieces of paper to pollute the water.
  2. Set a timer for 10 minutes (or watch the clock).
  3. Use the fork, spoon, and strainer to clean up the water as much as you can. When you remove the pollutants from the water, place them in the second, smaller bowl so it makes less of a mess.
  4. When the 10 minutes are up, place your tools down on the paper towels. Look at the water and how much pollution you were able to remove. How does it compare to the original clean water and the polluted water? Is this water still polluted?

Water is hard to clean. Even with the best equipment, cleaning is time consuming and expensive. The best way to keep pollutants out
of the water is to keep it clean in the first place: reducing, reusing, and recycling, and making sure our trash goes to the right place.

Bibliography: Would you like to learn more about pollution?
National Geographic. “Pollution.”

Back to What I Learned Wednesdays page

What I Learned Wednesdays

What I Learned Wednesdays feature Hanford Mills Museum Education Coordinator Luke Murphy presenting an interactive exploration. Join us Wednesdays at 11 am for a Facebook Live event on the Hanford Mills Museum Facebook Page. Ask questions, offer suggestions, and share your ideas. The videos are also posted on this page.

Have a topic you’d like Luke to talk about? Let us know.  We look forward to connecting with you online, and bringing you the resources of Hanford Mills Museum. #MuseumatHome

May 27: What is a Museum?
Luke tells us about museums and many of the things they do, especially Hanford Mills Museum. And, he shows us how to make a mini-magazine to showcase what you would like to feature in your personal museum. (You will need an 8 1/2 x 11 inch piece of paper and scissors)

May 20: Simple Machines
Luke tells us about the six simple machines, and shows us how to make a mini-catapult. (You will need 7 craft sticks, 7 rubber bands, 1 plastic spoon, 3 cotton balls)

May 13: Dendrochronology
How is that for a big word? Luke tells us about trees and “dendrochronology”, or tree-ring dating.  “For the entire period of a tree’s life, a year-by-year record or ring pattern is formed that in some way reflects the climatic and environmental conditions in which the tree grew.” (source Cornell Tree-Ring Laboratory). See what tree rings can tell us about tree growth, and make a tree-ring illustration of your life. (Luke shows us how). We can also study tree rings to learn more about the past
and Luke recommends this site for seeing which trees grow in each state.

May 6: Trains!
Starting with their introduction in the 1800s, trains helped to connect people faster and further than ever before. Learn about trains in the Catskills, how they helped Hanford Mills, and how to make your own train whistle! Luke talks about how long it took to cross the country by train and how the speed of trains changed travel (here’s some more information and maps). He also talks about the Oneonta Roundhouse, which was the largest in the world, and how the image on Utah’s quarter features the locomotive Jupiter, which was built in Schenectady, NY.

Locomotive No. 10 Ulster & Delaware Railroad, circa 1900, stopped behind Hanford Mills. The mill building is on the left and the lumber shed is in the background on the right.

A boxcar is located behind the Feed Mill at Hanford Mills Museum to help us tell the story of the impact of the railroad on Hanford Mills and the community

April 29: Make-your-own Fossils
Did you know that fossils from the  world’s oldest forests are located not far from Hanford Mills Museum, in Gilboa and Cairo, New York? Luke tells us about these ancient forests, then shows us how to make “fossils” using flour, salt, coffee grinds and coffee. He also mentions the official fossil of New York State, the sea scorpion or Eurypterus Remipes.

April 22: Pollution
It’s Earth Day, so Luke is talking about the importance of keeping the air, land and water clean. He has an activity that replicates water pollution, and the ways water can be cleaned up. Watch the video, then follow these instructions so you can do the “Trying to Clean Up” activity at home.

April 15:  Renewable Power
Find out about renewable power, and how it was used at Hanford Mills. Luke also shows us how to make a solar oven using things you may have at home, like a pizza box, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap. The homemade solar oven can warm up a snack, like s’mores, or melt the cheese on your nachos.

April 8: Forests and Water Health
We love to walk in the woods. Trees are amazing things. In addition to their beauty, they provide wildlife habitat, transform carbon dioxide into oxygen we can breathe, and are a natural resource, so we can have lumber, like we cut at Hanford Mills Museum. In this week’s “What I Learned Wednesday,” Luke tells us about another key role trees and forests play: keeping water clean. See how he uses chocolate syrup, ripped-up paper towels, and crushed cereal to show us how trees clean water!
Luke also made an Activity Guide on Forests and Water Health that you can view online or print out at home. The Guide includes a supply list and directions for how to do an experiment at home.

April 1: Dairy
Find out what Hanford Mills made for Delaware County dairy farmers in the 19th century, learn some fun facts, and see how you can make butter at home.  Dairy farms near Hanford Mills Museum include Clark Farms, a fifth-generation family farm, and Byebrook Farm, an eighth-generation family farm (you may know them from the delicious Gouda Cheese they sell at Hanford Mills events).  Both operate stores on the farm where you can buy milk. For these and other Catskill farms, restaurants, and general stores that are open during the COVID 19 crisis, please see, a collaboration of the MARK Project, Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, and Great Western Catskills.

Make Butter at Home
Want to make butter like Luke does in the video? You’ll need a couple tablespoons of heavy cream and a jar with a tight fitting lid. Luke uses baby food jars. Put the cream in the jar, make sure the lid is on tight, then shake.  After a few minutes, the cream will solidify into butter. Try it out on a cracker.

March 25: Water and Water Power
Almost 75 percent of the world is covered in water, but there’s only a small amount that we can drink. We have to protect the water we have. Water is not only important for drinking, but also for energy. Long before we had electricity or gasoline engines, water powered the machines at Hanford Mills, and still does 174 years later! 

Watch this video to see the 10-foot high and 12-foot wide Fitz overshot waterwheel in action.

Ice Harvest Festival Update

measuring the ice
Measuring the ice depth

Ice Conditions

2/2/20: We appreciate visitors’ understanding, and we are grateful to the exhibitors, presenters, and volunteers who made the Ice Harvest Festival a success. Thanks to everyone who came, and think cold thoughts for next Ice Harvest Festival on February 6, 2021.

2/1/20: The 5 inches of slushy, low quality ice on the Mill pond is not safe enough for anyone to walk on. But the Ice Harvest Festival will go on as planned with lots of activities and things to do off the ice.

 1/28/2020: This has not been a good winter for growing ice. The sloppy weather over the past weekend (rain/wet snow) did not help our slowly growing ice. We have about 3 to 4 inches of slush/ice, and it is not safe for anyone to walk on.  Given these conditions, visitors will not be able to help with the ice harvest on the ice. If the ice thickens sufficiently over the next few days, Hanford Mills staff and experienced volunteers will demonstrate  ice harvesting on the ice.  We will make this decision based on the condition of the ice late in the week (or Saturday morning).

The Festival will go on despite ice conditions.

Hanford Mills Museum has conducted an ice harvest for 32 years, and safety is the priority.  At the Ice Harvest Festival, visitors can help harvest ice from the frozen pond if the ice is 8 or more inches thick. If the ice is 6-8 inches thick, Hanford Mills staff will be on the ice, and visitors can help transfer the harvested ice to the ice house.  In recent years, the depth of the ice has ranged from 7 inches to more than 18 inches.

Ice Harvest Festival Tips:

  • Dress warmly in layers. Hats, mittens or gloves, and boots are recommended.
  • Please be aware that GPS provided directions can be unreliable in our area.  Traveling on back roads can be difficult, especially in winter weather. Here are suggested directions, and we also welcome your phone calls 607/278-5744.
  • Free parking is available in the large lot across Route 12 from Hanford Mills Museum. Additional parking will be available at the Meredith Historical Society (the former Charlotte Valley Presbyterian Church) at 10044 Elk Creek Road.
  • Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for seniors and AAA members, $4.50 for members of the military. See more information on admission discounts.
  • Consider becoming a member of Hanford Mills Museum. Very reasonably priced memberships offer you free admission for a full year, including to all events, like the Ice Harvest, Independence Day Celebration, Woodsmen’s Festival, and the Antique Engine Jamboree. Find out about memberships
  • Kids 12 and under and Museum members get in free.
  • If you’d like to buy food on site, bring cash. Soup is $3, cookies are $1 each. Some exhibitors only accept cash as well.

Back to main Ice Harvest Festival page

Hanford Mills Museum to offer Free Family Saturdays

Hanford Mills Museum logo
Hanford Mills Museum News Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: Liz Callahan,  607/278.5744

Free Family Saturdays at Hanford Mills Museum

[May 2019 East Meredith, NY] Hanford Mills Museum is offering a monthly series of free programs for families. Free Family Saturdays offer special programming and free admission for adults who are accompanied by a child under 18. Free Family Saturdays will be held on May 25, June 15, July 20, and August 10.

“We envision Family Saturdays as an opportunity for families to spend time together and learn together,” says Liz Callahan, executive director of Hanford Mills Museum.

Free Family Saturdays are funded in part through a grant from Stewart’s Holiday Match. “We are grateful to Stewart’s Holiday Match and other funders that let us offer free admission for these programs. Hanford Mills is a wonderful place to learn about ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and science, and Free Family Saturdays help us to bring these lessons to new audiences,” says Callahan.

The theme for the first Free Family Saturday on May 25 is Life by the Pond. Visitors can explore the plants and animals living in and around the Mill pond. Children can make paper animals and miniature magazines about pond life. Visitors are invited to bring a picnic or a snack to enjoy on picnic tables by the Mill pond.  Free Family Saturday activities run from 10 am to 4 pm, and the Museum site is open until 5 pm.

Future Family Saturday themes are: Working in the Mill, Science at the Mill, and Music at the Mill.

On Free Family Saturdays, up to two adults receive free admission when accompanied by a child under 18. Teens receive free admission as well.

Children under 13 always receive free admission to Hanford Mills, including festivals, like the Independence Day Celebration on July 4, Antique Engine Jamboree on September 7, and the Woodsmen’s Festival on October 5.

For more information, call Hanford Mills at 607/278-5744 or see

About Hanford Mills Museum

Hanford Mills Museum operates an authentic water- and steam-powered historic site, which includes a sawmill, gristmill and woodworking shop. The mission of Hanford Mills Museum is to inspire audiences of all ages to explore connections among energy, technology, natural resources and entrepreneurship in rural communities with a focus on sustainable choices. The museum is listed on the National and New York State Registers of Historic Places.

Hanford Mills is located at 51 County Highway 12 in East Meredith, at the intersection of Delaware County Routes 10 & 12, just 10 miles from Oneonta, and 15 miles from Delhi.  For more information, visit or call 607-278-5744.


For more information, please contact:

Liz Callahan, Executive Director, Hanford Mills Museum, 607/278-5744,