Mihkli Farm Museum
is located at Viki, 28 kilometers from Kuressaare towards Kihelkonna.
Mihkli farm depicts a typical West Saaremaa farm. Most of the buildings date to the middle of the 18th century. Almost all of the items on display have been made by the six generations of family who lived here. The farm consists of a family dwelling (the log house with no foundation), a threshing barn/dwelling, a "wheel house" where woodowrk was carried on and the farm's wheeled wagons were stored, a smithy, a summer kitchen, two storage barns, and a smoke sauna. A windmill is located a few hundred meters distant.
The founder of the farm was Wicki Peter, during the second quarter of the 18th century. The farm received its present name from Peter'sgrandson Mihkel at the beginning of the 19th century. Mihkli farm is the oldest farm in Viki village. The farm reached its zenith during the middle of the 19th century, when most of the present buildings were constructed. The museum became a fact when the last owner, Jakob Rent (1886 - 1969) willed the farm and all its goods and remaining imlements to the state.
As stated before, Mihkli is a typical western Saaremaa farm, which is worth looking at architectually. Most of the buildings are placed in a ring around a middle courtyard, a part of which is a flower garden and separated by a fence from the rest of the yard. The farm is surrounded by ancient ash trees. In earlier times the trees were pollarded for their branches, which were fed to sheep during the winter. The large apple orchard was planted Jakob Rent. Reeds is the favored roofing material on the seacoast, straw was used in the inland areas.
The dwelling house is located next to the main gate. According to tradition, it was built in 1834. Before that the family lived in the old threshing barn/dwelling, which no longer exists but was located where the flower garden now exists. The present dwelling house is constructed of hand-hewsn logs, has a hipped roof and no foundation. The kitchen with its stone walls and corbelled ceiling is located in the center of the building.
This type of kitchen can only be found in farm buildings in Western Saaremaa. It was a common structural feature in city dwellings and manor houses. To the left of the front door there are two chambers, and to the right a living room and another chamber. At first, only the last two rooms were heated, with the mouth of the stove being in the kitchen. As can be seen, the walls are covered with decades of soot and grime. When the big stove was fired up, the kitchen filled with smoke. The smoke flowed into the chimney thru the openings over the door. If smoke was needed to smoke the meats that were hung from the ceiling, the openings were closed with wooden shutters.
Among the items on display are a large bread shovel and a kneading trough. The living room contains a loom, a dining table with its soup and porridge bowls, wooden beer mugs (the oldest dating to 1816), fish and butter boxes. Many of the items have an incised family identification mark: on Mihkli farm it was a simple cross.
The oldest item on display is a sowing tray that dates to 1788. The last addition to the dwelling house was the north facing chamber and, as can be seen from the date that has been carved on the wall, dates to 1864. The windows and doors were widened in 1893 by Karl Reht.
Next to the dwelling house is a small stone and log building that is called the "wheel house". This is where a lot of woodworking took place and where the family carriage, or wheels, were stored; hence the name "wheel house". Among the wagons and carriages there are two children's carriages; one was purchased, the other was made on the farm.
On the south side of the yard is the threshing barn/dwelling that was built during 1840 - 1843. A saw was in use during the construction of this building. Previously, all building had been carried on using only an axe. This building is the largest one on the farm and consists of a stone walled threshing barn and a log walled living room and horse stable.
As is normal, harvesting of grain took place in the fall. But, in the latitudes where Saaremaa is located, the subsequent threshing had to take place indoors because it was wet and rainy outside. So the big stove in the threshing barn was heated up and threshing took place indoors. And, since this activity happened for only a few weeks of the year, the threshing barn was used as a living space the rest of the year. Since the threshing barn was not used as a living space on Mihkli Farm, one can see all the various implement on display here that were used in the threshing and flax processing procedures.
In 1861 Peeter Rehe added another little room to the threshing barn, where he kept his beekeeping implements. His initials can be seen on the door jamb.
The display in the horse stable consists of various wagons and carriages that were necessary implements on the farm. The most interesting one is the woven-sided potato and fish wagon, and the sled used to carry logs from the woods. Potatoes and salted fish were the mainstays of the islander's diet up until the beginning of WWII. Therefore, considering the large family that lived on the farm, it is probably quite realistic that Mihkli Farm acquired its fish by the wagon load direct from the fishermen. These were then salted into barrels and eaten all year. Since trees were cut during the winter, obviously a sled was necessary to carry them out of the woods.
Across from the threshing barn isa stone building with a roof of wooden planks that dates to 1854, the summer kitchen and smithy. It is worth noting that many of the stones used in construction are from a building that dates to the Middle Ages. It is thought that these pieces can be traced to the medieval Karla Church, which was demolished in 1836.
There are also two storehouses, the so-called old one and the new one. The oldest one is located in the applce orchard. It probably dates to the turn of the 18th century. When this building was built, the saw had not made its appearance at Mihkli Farm. The entire building was built using only an axe. This storehouse was used to store apples and grain.
The "new" storehouse was built around 1842. This date is carved over one of the door lintels. This new storehouse is divided into several sections; grain, the barrels of salted fish, salted meats and clothes were stored in their own sections of the storehouse. The two small chambers attached to the front were used by the unmarried girls of the farm family as summer sleeping chambers
A sauna was built in the apple orchard in 1846. The wooden portion of the structure dates to 1910. The furnishings inside date to the same period.
A few hundred meters from the farm buildings, and on a small elevation, is the wooden farm windmill where the family ground its flour.
Today we can only admire the industriousness and ingenuity of the average farm family. The family was entirely self-sufficient; it produced almost everything it needed. Our forefathers and mothers seemed to know how to do almost everything. Next to them, we are surely complete incompetents and we stand in utter awe of them.