Sharing farm life with children for two generations.

Photos & Notes from Privious Summers


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The Farm

Photos and Letters

From previous Summers page 10


workshop kitten mat


I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I shan't be gone long. -
You come too...Robert Frost








Cats Sleep Anywhere
Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965)

Cats sleep anywhere,
Any table, anychair.
Top of piano, window-ledge,
In the middle, on the edge.
Open drawer, empty shoe,
Anybody's lap will do.
Fitted in a cardboard box,
In the cupboard with your frocks.
They don't care! Cats sleep anywhere.


This is a small "camp" run for many years by the Barker Family. So, this is actually a visit to their home and not really a camp experience in the traditional sense of the word. It is a real working family-farm and every child that goes there is actually contributing to the running of the farm. My daughter absolutely loved her experience here. She came home positively glowing with excitement and tales.  She is a little on the shy side but the Barkers were able to build and grow her confidence in just a few days. This is a wonderful place for kids who love animals, the outdoors and the idea of living on a farm. The food was by all accounts fantastic. This was such a fantastic antidote to the life that my daughter leads during the school year and I have no doubt that it will be one of her favorite memories of her childhood.    7-18-07


Thank you so much for the wonderful experiences and memories that you have given Patrick and Sarah.  They surprised both themselves and us with their ability to adapt to the farm lifestyle.  They really are looking forward to visiting with their animal and human friends again!      --  Bonita F. Columbus, OH  1-14-08


 You have no idea how thrilled and moved I was to see that you are still running the country school farm.  I came to your camp for several years as a child.  Britt and I were the same age and I always wanted a pair of boots  and a raccoon just like hers.  I look back favorably on those years.  I became a teacher and actually taught in Danville, outdoor environmental education for a year.  I attribute my interest in nature to your facility.  Rebecca N.  1-16-07

Our daughters were at your camp in Ohio years ago (1991) and it was a highlight of their youth. -- Karen Blunk, S. SD 1-15-08

hay chute from front

We received your brochure in the  mail on Saturday, and the memories came flooding back.  We want you to know that we still recommend the Farm to everyone.  Alex and William last went to the farm probably seven years ago (Alex is almost 21 now) but we have so many fond memories of it. ....and what they learned on the farm has helped them in their lives.
Alexandria is a junior at Marquette University in Milwaukee studying Classical Languages.  Her early years on the farm prepared her to go on to years at Outward Bound and Alaska Wilderness Adventures.
William is in the Chicago Police Cadet Academy and a sophormore at Harold Washingtopn College in Chicago.  He is absolutely unfaze-able and I think owes a lot of that to experiences at the farm.  (Age 7 - Okay, I can drag a dead sheep down the meadow, no problem!)
Thank you for everything you taught my children.  You gave them an incredible set of experiences and memories and they -  and we - are forever grateful for that.  If you ever want to add some old people to your references, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Elliott family in Evanston!

barn swallows

  Our dishwasher has been broken for about 3 weeks and Annalie said at the dinner table last night "well, at THE FARM, we wash our dishes every night. One person washes and another dries..." It made us all smile as the way she said it gave the impression that "back in the old days, when I lived on the farm..." I absolutely love how the experience is so personal and traverses into every area of their lives. She truly owns that week at the farm and it weaves into the fabric of her life throughout the 51 other weeks of the year.
Erin D. 2-08

farmhouse from loft

You have come to be a part of our summer lives for the past many years.  Older daughter, Anna, thoroughly enjoyed her experiences and introduced all of us to your wonderful farm, passion for children, and the simple pleasures of life.  I was thrilled when Ellie wanted to follow and embraced her three summer visits.  Mary S.  3-08

doe goats at feeder

Hello. It has been a long three years since I last visited the magical place that is the farm. Not a day goes by that I don't find myself daydreaming about the endless hours of happiness and nirvana that I experienced in my yearly midsummer visits....I have missed the chores, the projects, the games, the auctions, the animals, the atmosphere, and the food that I had grown to love over the years. I believe the lessons that I learned at the farm have set me up to be a successful athlete, student, and human being.    Dominic Z. Ohio  3-08 
   peahen in loft

 Emmi's world took a turn for the positive after visiting the farm -- she has had a great year academically and socially.  Carrie E. 3-08

Hi Richard, Penny and family,
I just wanted to thank you all so much for taking such good care of Rowan and Evan.  They had such a fantastic, fulfilling time at camp.  I have heard story after story and it sounds just like I had imagined it would be.  What wonderful memories they both have!  Margaret S. 6-16-08


Mr and Mrs Barker and family,
I wanted to share something with you that happened yesterday evening.  Ryan came home from camp on Friday night.  I picked up his bags from his dad's and took them back to my house and did all of his laundry.  Ryan came home Sunday night.  In his room was all of his laundry from the farm.  I walked in as he was picking up a farm t-shirt.  He was smelling it.  I said what are you doing?  He said he was trying to smell the farm, but that the shirt had already been washed.  I gave him a hug as he told me he already missed the farm...he had a few tears falling down his cheeks.  He then told me next year as soon as he leaves he is taking off his shirt and putting it in a bag so he can smell it all year long.
Thank you so much for giving Ryan such a wonderful experience!!!  
Mona Z. 6-16-08

looking down hay chute

 Hi Penny and Richard, Jamie had a great time.  Since Rowan and Evan's family was staying at the same place I was, we got to know each other ...  With 3 boys talking, we heard quite a bit about the week.  All were unanimous about the "Best Breakfast Cereal in the Whole Wide World" and the homemade bread and the best apples.  Shelling corn, grinding corn, and milking goats was big also. They also spoke of the goat kids going to auction, the goat kid that died, the dog that killed the chicken with the egg in it.  All 3 wanted to comeback next year, but "you have to be invited." Rowan was ready to return this year! Seriously though, Jamie had a great time and wants to return next year. You can sign him up for the first session. 
Joan A. 6-14-08


 Hi, Penny and Richard,
 I had a wonderful time at the farm. I simply loved it. We got great weather. I felt so free at the farm.  It was fun waking up every morning and just going every where. It felt like it was my perminant home. Hopefuly I will be back next year.
Julia K. 6-28-08

juvenile bantam chicks

... thank you Richard, Penny, Maggie, Ben and Jonah for having me at the farm for yet another wonderful session.  I had the greatest time!  The farm is a perfect escape from all the crazy pressures and stresses of daily life.  It is so very refreshing to hear that "you're not bad, you're just little.  We expect you to make mistakes."  An environment like that lets children share ideas without fear of criticism and accept their faults without fear of punishment.  I believe that if every child could attend a week at your farm, the world would be a better place.  It really has made me a better person and "farm philosophies" apply to my life and help me through tough situations.  Thank you for this experience.  I will treasure my farm memories forever. 
Grace P. 14, 6-29-08

white peahen in loft

Emily, whom you know well, age 15, is planning her bittersweet retirement from TCSF. Her sweet times at the farm are to be replaced with such things as learning to drive and travel.  We parents (also feeling bittersweet) are lucky your impact lasted the seven years that it did. Hope to see you in the years to come.  Wishing you the best, and thank you for your efforts toward making a great place to be. Marion S. 11-6-07


I wanted to let you know that both Paul and Jeffrey are eager to return to the farm next summer. They had such a wonderful time with you and cannot wait ....!  They regularly speak of the animals by name, and I have more than once assumed (wrongly) that it was a friend of the human variety.  I can certainly see why you have so many repeat customers.  They bond with your family and the animals, and, as they return, they feel a sense of "ownership" ....  Their younger sister, Gretchen, is saying that she would like to come, too, ... Our family wishes yours the very best!  Happy Thanksgiving!
Liz M. 11-9-07

bantam hens

I should have stopped by or written years ago--I actually lived in Oberlin for 6 years at the beginning of the millenium, ended up heading an arts-integration-in-preschool curriculum grant that, like every educational endeavor I've had, drew on my Country school training. Margaret  Y. 1978-80

bantam mother with chicks

Had to take a quick minute to tell you what an incredible time Susan had at the farm. It's all she's talking about!! I'm again amazed by all the things she did in one short week.
Thanks so much! What a great experience you provide for the children :)
Vicki L. 7-5-08


My daughter, Sarah, arrived home yesterday full of stories of her wonderful experiences this past week.  She has told of so many things that it seems impossible to have all happened in 5 short days (and she has not stopped talking).  The way she uses names and can tell that she truly became a part of the farm.  This is what I envisioned her experience would be like....and even better.  Thank you for opening your home and farm to her.  She has some very funny stories (often about the peacocks - like the one that scared her on the roof of the outhouse in the night...and the goat going to the bathroom in the milk bucket). 
Nancy C. 7-5-08


     I can't believe that I just left the farm 2 days ago.  It feels like forever.  I'm mostly just checking in, but (also to give you) a reminder. The baby goats you are selling are Lana and Darlene (they tan one and the gray one).  At least those are the ones that my week picked and I'm pretty sure that the week before pretty much agreed with us....I have to tell you, the farm is my most favorite place in the world.  You get to be a nobody, and that is perfectly alright.  You don't have to be anything special, you just have to want to be there.  And let farm show you what it can do for you. I miss it already! Thanks again for the emails!
Kieran C. Cincinnati 7-6-08

doe rabbit 2

My children Olivia and Ian Allen (and their cousin Daniel) were at your farm last August 07 and absolutely
loved it! Last year was their first time ever to go away to camp.  This year I just couldn't afford to send them again as I was going on a 14 day cruise myself. So, I found another camp nearby. The camp was on a lake (with a heater underneath the dock no less!) with all kinds of activities such as arts/crafts, swimming, archery, etc....including a store where they could buy snacks, etc... I thought they would enjoy it as much or the same as your farm.
When I returned from my cruise I asked them how they enjoyed their camp experience. They liked it, but guess what? They liked The Country Farm School much better and went on and on about the goat milk, goat cheese, etc....and how much they loved being with the animals, the creek walk ... and most importantly thatthey were given the option to decide what they wanted to do at your farm when it was "free time". They didn't like being told where to go and at what time at the camp they recently attended. I was really surprised that it was that significant to them. It speaks volumes of what you're providing to the children. Needless to say, we have agreed to let the kids go to your farm again in 2009.  Janet A. 7-18-08

farmhouse with peacocks

My name is Emily and currently I am fifteen years old. I came to the Country School Camp for four summers from age 9 to 13. While I don't expect you to remember me, as it's been a while since I've been there and you have hundreds of kids coming through your camp each year, I'm only writing to say thank you. The weeks that I spent on the farm were absolutely the best times of my life. I have learned so much from being there than I could have ever imagined; so much more than I could ever be
taught in a school. In some ways, I have a head start on my classmates. know more things about caring for animals and about plants and about life and of living a life surrounded by living things, instead of in an office surrounded by papers. Which brings to the reason why I'm writing, two years after I stopped coming. I had a dream last night in which the farm was commercialized. It wasn't the same farm, where the kids are suppose to stay "on the farm." It was based on a place where schools could come for field trips. I guess in truth, it was a kind of nightmare. So I say thank you for not making it that way. Thank you for
making the farm a place where nothing from your outside life matters. Thank you for making a place entirely based around your love for animals and nature. Thank you for bringing back what really matters, which, in the world today, I'm afraid many have lost. And thank you for giving me that experience.
Emily A. Ohio  7-23-08

Our son, Stone Wallace, attended your July 7, 2008 session.  We were more privileged than we knew to have been put on your mailing list.  Our intent is to provide our son with well-rounded life experiences. What he experienced was life altering.
He plans to return for two weeks next year if possible. He can hardly wait.  He misses the farm very much. He is even sentimental about the smell of the barn and we sut off a piece of his jeans to keep in a plastic bag on his bulletin board. Yes, that is how much heloved it. Thank you for your insight and your ability to provide fresh, new experiences to so many children.  We are eternally grateful. 
Janna and Ed W. Michigan, 7-24-08

milking time

I want to thank you for the wonderful experience Emily had with you last week. She has some incredible memories that she can carry through her life. She has said several times how funny, kind and caring you and your family are and I am grateful to you for taking such good care of her.
Stephanie C. Ohio  8-2-08

rabbits 4

Ashley can’t stop talking about the farm!  She truly enjoyed herself. And has already said she hopes she is invited back because she wants to attend two sessions next summer.  She talked about the beautiful countryside in Ohio and wants me and her Dad to take her so we can see it also.  I’m so glad we found out about your farm and camp. Thank you so much for all you do for the kids at your camp! 
Michelle B. IL  8-1-08

rabbits 5

Richard, Penny and family,
Wow!  it was pure joy that came out of Emeline as she talked about her week at the farm.  She reveled in the freedom but was secure in the order and schedule of the day.  She hopes to return next year (just before her 13th birthday!) and bring her younger sister with her.
Thank you for seeing the value of children to do meaningful work and the possibility of personal growth in each of the children.  Emeline was proud each night when her head hit the pillow and she was inspired to wake up the next day and face the challenges and rewards that she knew existed in her work.
Maria and Emeline A. 8-24-08

barred rock bantam setting

Thanks you so much! She was thrilled to hear she is invited back and is very excited about returning! She is constantly sharing little snippets here and there, especially about the animals. We received your brochure in the mail last year out of nowhere and often I overlook those kinds of things but it caught my eye and I became intrigued. After reading the entire brochure and then going to your website I was just overwhelmed by the feeling that this was something Megan would love. We took a pretty big risk sending our 7 year old to a place no one we know had ever heard of, and where she would not know anyone, but I just had a gut feeling that this was going to be amazing for her - and it was! So, thank you, thank you, thank you - and we look forward to being able to attend the open house next year so we can visit and have Megan "show us around." -Penny O. 8-27-08

rabbits 6

I so very much wanted to give them an experience on a farm like I had when I was young; you made it happen. Farm camp is all they talked about for a whole week after camp and then some.  They loved ALL the activities on the farm, but especially enjoyed the animals and milking the goats in the morning with Richard. They often retell his stories which they enjoyed listening to before bed each night, and both say they felt like they actually lived on a farm. Hannah definitely wants to come again and is hoping she will be invited back. Heather turns 13 in a couple of weeks and is also hoping that you will still allow her to return next year.  They are both going to try to save some money this year to help pay for their camp next year. Thank you again for giving them such wonderful memories they will keep for a lifetime.
 -- Robina G. Ohio 9-12-08

hay chute side view

In the late 70's and early 80's our son Jason was fortunate enough to spend several summer weeks at the Country School Farm.  This proved to be one of the formative experiences of his life and we wish to offer a belated thanks for the environment you provided and the views you communicated.  As you can tell from the URL below, Jason has gone on to fulfill his early promise and make his parents proud.  Richard and Penny, your contribution to his growth cannot be overestimated.
-- Tony and Jeannie S, Indiana 9-16-08

rabbits 7

I was overjoyed (I mean it) to find out that the Country School is still operating. It's been twenty five years since my last week with you on the farm, which surprises me because my memories are still vivid. I can't even tell you how significant of an experience those precious weeks there have been on my life, shaping my thinking in profound ways. For example, I think I am more of an environmentalist and seek to protect green spaces because of the farm experience. I started taking Suzuki violin lessons once I returned from Namibia, in part because of my vivid memories of how talented Brit was on the piano. I was fascinated with the idea that you could learn to play by ear. Also, I can't remember the exact context of this conversation or when we had it, but you and I once talked about television and you told me that when Brit (and probably the rest of the kids) saw television, it seemed completely unreal to her. My husband and I continue to disagree about the impact of television on Yonald Jr.; he thinks it's not a big deal, whereas I would like to get rid of our television all together. I even think I'm a healthier eater because of you. Finally, I think being with you altered what time well spent means to me. Funny, every year I spent ten months in school and only a week with you, but the farm experience has left a more indelible mark. Yonald Jr. will be six and ready for The Country School in just five short years. :-) I sure hope all is well with you and Richard. if you ever happen to come to Boston, you are always welcome to stay with us.  Katie (Beller) C. 9-21-08

in the henhouse

Maria (6) is truly a completely different child since her return … and I don’t believe it is coincidental. She is more confident, responsible, assertive, self-starting, willing to stand up for herself, self sufficient and the list goes on. I really wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it myself and everyone who knows and loves her see the same. I know she will return in years to come. Thank you for offering such an enriching and wonderful experience!  Francy L. MI 9-26-08

rabbits 8

Wow, it has been such a long time since I have been in contact with you; almost 12 years.  I attended your program every year for 5-6 years; around 1990-1996. You, your family (especially Maggie), and your farm are always in my fondest memories. I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Maggie working with her dogs. So many people look at me as though I am crazy when I am reminiscing about the times I had with you on the farm; yet they can see in my face that I truly had the time of my life. You provided me with the knowledge of what things used to be like and that you don’t have to have so many material things to have a good life. Now I have a 4 ½ year-old son, Jacob, and as soon as he is of age I plan on giving him the same amazing experience I had when I was his age. Some people in life really deserve a thank-you and you and your family are no exception; so from the bottom of my heart- thank you. I live in Indiana still and wonder at times about possibly driving over and visiting, maybe one day with your permission.  I hope all is well, thank you for your time once again. Warm Regards, Stephanie B. IN 10-10-08

wild blackberrrieswild black raspberriesgrapespeacocks on porchserpentine perennial flower bed


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