Sharing farm life with children for two generations.


Photos & Notes from Privious Summers

 

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Photo Highlights and Love Letters

From Summer 2014

 


This is the best place imaginable if your child loves animals and dreams of beautiful country living.  The simple farm life, detached from electronics and videos, isn't what my daughter thought she wanted to do at first.  However, when we picked her up on Friday, the first thing she said was she wanted to come back again, a huge smile on her face.  Once home she looked up our city ordinances on having goats in our backyard (Luckily it's forbidden so I don't have to be the bad guy.)  Our daughter enjoyed learning the simple parts of farm life, from taking care of the animals to helping with household chores. I’m grateful that some of that enthusiasm has stayed with her and she’s still more helpful now that she’s home. She’s getting ready to go back again this summer, already packing her bag. I love this place and, by the way, I spent many of my summers there back in the ‘70’s and 80’s. I saw it grow and evolve, yet maintain the close-knit family atmosphere where everyone is cherished. -- Jeff M VA ~ 2/15

 

I think I mentioned to Richard last summer that one of the prompts I encountered in the college application process asked me to describe a place where I was perfectly content and that I had chosen to write about the farm. It allowed me to think back to each of the nine years I spent with you and the wonderful memories I have. Of course there were many more, but I’m not sure I ever told you how much I adored being on the farm. I’ve been meaning to send the essay for a while; it’s my best attempt to describe how incredible my experiences were.
Jonna M ~ 2014

Jonna's essay: I am content when balancing on a horse pasture gate at sunrise. I am content when turning the butter churn lever for the 100th time. And I am content when I pitch manure.  Contentment isn’t pure happiness; it is a peace of mind, a mental satisfaction borne of work, a pride in a task accomplished.
I spend five days on a farm every summer. There is no communication with the outside world: no texts, emails or letters. I look forward to those blissfully disconnected five days for the remaining 360. Contentment, by its nature, can be explained only through the circumstances that create it. For me, those circumstances exist on a farm two hours south of Cleveland.
In the early morning darkness I creep outside. I squint through the sheets of cold rain pouring down from the sky to glance at my shoes, which remain dry under the overhang of the house. I realize that if I remove them from their shelter, they will instantly become soaked. So instead, I pull the socks off my feet, grab my shoes, and dart into the rain. As I run up the hill to the barn I feel the grass slip and slide between my toes.

Slipping inside the small opening of the barn door, I pause for a moment and smile wryly at the thought of my appearance. I feel a calm settle over me as I adjust my eyes to the dim interior of the barn and collapse onto a straw bale. Richard looks at me in amusement; he raises an eyebrow at my bare feet, but chooses to instead tell me I’m late. I know it’s in jest; I am not obligated to be here this early in the morning, rather it has become a point of pride to prove that I can get to the barn as early as he. As soon as my shoes are on he hands me the milk pail, and the day begins.
I close my fingers around the dairy goat’s udder to release a steady stream of milk. Most of it I direct into the milk pail, but the small gray kitten is staring at me with wide eyes, so I send some her way. She moves her mouth in a flash and aptly swallows the warm milk, and seems to thank me in return. Richard calls out that I should try and keep the milk in my pail. I grin and laugh; he was the one who first showed me the trick. I return to my milk pail and soon it’s filled with the frothy white substance. I’m content as I add my contribution to the collection pail.

Another morning, this one miraculously free of rain, Richard leans against the stall door and watches as we wrangle with Tripoli, a goat who refuses to obey our commands and walk up the milking stanchion. “Capricious”, he remarks from where he stands. I roll my eyes; instead of helping, he’s going to start a conversation. He asks if we know what the word means, and I wonder once more where this is headed. He explains the origin of the word capricious: capra, the Latin for goat. It means unpredictable or fickle he informs us from his corner. I look up and finally understand. He has given us a word to describe the animal with which we are grappling. At the time, stubborn and stupid would have sufficed, but from time to time the word appears and every time I’ve said it I think of that summer morning.

One afternoon I find myself mucking out a stall that a pony and 20 goats once inhabited, leaving behind a veritable collection of manures. We wheel the wheelbarrow out of the barn to the manure spreader and transfer the contents. Once we have, I boost myself up onto the spreader to even the load. As I bend down to grab my pitchfork, I pull my straw hat down over my braids. My mind’s eye envisions my stance as Laura Ingalls Wilder superimposed onto American Gothic. I finish the task just before the dinner bell, and my aching muscles assure me that I deserve the contentment that comes with the successfully completed task.

The moon is full, with an ethereal white glow that coats every tree. A full moon in the country is like nothing else; it disguises faults and displays exquisite beauty. My cot faces the window and thus the glow of the moon shines into my eyes. As I lay there, my thoughts journey the nine hours back home. This cot is so very different from my bed in a condominium in a New York City suburb. I reflect that I, like Mary Lennox, have a secret garden. It isn’t in the Yorkshire moors, or surrounded by ivy-colored walls, but it is nonetheless where I am content.


Brooke had such a wonderful, rich experience on your farm!  That week was the first time she has stayed somewhere where she didn’t know anyone, and she felt totally happy, safe, and comfortable right from the start! She has been asking me to contact you to request the recipes for Penny’s Honey Oat cereal and Penny’s Honey Cocoa.  I thought that they were posted on the website, but I can’t find them.  Would you be willing to send me those recipes?
Karen R ~ 2014


Thank you for letting me stay at your farm! It was so much fun! I loved everything about it. The food was really good, and my favorite meal was the veggie dogs, which were cooked in the fire pit! I loved the hot chocolate. I am going to try to make something like it, but it will probably not be as good as yours! My project was the cider making, and my favorite chore was doing the dishes or taking care if the small animals and large, too. The orphan lambs and goats were so adorable! They always tried to eat my hat, though. I also liked the pullets. They are enjoyable to pick up. The creek walk was very fun, and I liked having farmstead time because it made me feel like I lived there. Thanks again, Richard, Ben, Maggie, Fabricio, Christian, Penny, and Luca and Will, too! I am looking forward to seeing you next year,
Iona C ~ 2014

Thanks for newsletter and keep them coming!I love that The Country School Farm is continuing its fine tradition of teaching children about farm live. My daughter, Maria, attended with her friend when she was seven years old and loved it. Have a safe and happy winter holiday. Margaret P

I wanted to write and thank you for making Owen's first time away from home such a wonderful  experience. It was with much trepidation that I sent him for a visit, but my worries were unfounded as he returned home with stories and memories to last a lifetime. With Owen being a finicky eater, I was overjoyed to hear he loved the meals and had high reviews, especially of the cider, Penny's cereal and the saltines. If you ever want to share your recipes, I'm certain Owen would love to relive eating on the farm. I can't begin to tell you how much we appreciate that both our daughter and now our son have been given the opportunity to come for a visit and be a part of something so amazing. He can't wait to return next year!

Tiffany & Mike P ~ 2014

 

I had such a wonderful time at the farm. This year was the first time I've ever ground flour! Not only that, but I also got to milk goats, bottle feed fluffy little lambs, winnow corn, and even lead a project. This year has certainly been my most exciting year (out of four) at the farm. Yet, as each is even better than the last, I'm already getting a little farmsick. It's amazing how quickly I can feel at home at a place so different from home. The farm is truly one of the most wonderful places in the entire world. From helping take care of the animals, meeting all of the wonderful people who visit the farm, and eating the amazing meals (which taste even better after working hard on chores and projects), I enjoyed every last moment of my short time spent visiting the farm and I loved leading the projects. I hope I get to see everybody again next year.

Lauren K ~ 2014

I opened my mailbox yesterday to find a flyer from the Country School Farm, and was instantly rocketed back to my yearly visits at the farm back in the 70s and 80s with other kids from West Shore UU Church (where my mom, Midge S, was the religious education minister). 

I'm a writer and educator now but I find myself at a loss for words to tell you how much Country School Farm meant to me when I was a kid, and how much it has continued to mean to me as an adult. I'll tell you one quick story, though. When I interviewed for my current job the CEO told me that when he had interviewed with our founder, one of the interview questions was "What's the best way to milk a Guernsey cow?" The CEO leaned back in his chair and said, "So you see, Dr. S, that PhD is important, but we're looking for practical people too. What do you know how to do?" I smiled and said, "Well, I don't know how to milk a Guernsey cow, but I can milk a goat, gather eggs, and get a rooster out of the way when I open a gate."

I got the job. 13 years later, I'm still with the same foundation.

I remember gas lamps, and barn kittens, and Penny's cocoa. I remember that Maggie was a little kid. And Britt was an impossibly grown up teenager. 

I am so very glad that the Country School is still there. I have two daughters now--aged 6 and 8, and will try to send them to you, at least once.

Thank you for the memories, and please, give my love to all,

Sarah S. ~ 2014

Thank you for the wonderful experience you provided our daughter, Sophie, this past summer! The first words our of her mouth on pick-up day were, "That was the best experience of my life!" As a TCSF alum, I have first hand experience to prove that she was not exaggerating! Looking very forward to seeing you again this coming summer when both of our girls would like to join you. Warmest regards and heartfelt gratitude, Christine L. ~ 2014

 

Thank you for another fabulous summer experience. All three girls loved spending time on the farm. In fact last night (the night before school) we listened to more farm stories. The girls wished to go back to the farm instead of school! Gracie loved going to the auction. Noraa was thrilled to lead chores. Lucy just loved everything! We are all so thankful that our family has been able to enjoy the farm the past four summers. Have a wonderful and relaxing Fall! Deb S ~ 2014

Thank you for allowing me to return so many summers. While going to the farm was great fun as a child, I think it impacted me even more when I was a little older. That experience shaped who I am today. This summer, I was able to travel to Costa Rica for a month and volunteer at a wildlife refuge. Even though we were caring for spider monkeys, macaws, tapirs, wild pigs, etc, instead of farm animals, everything about the place reminded me of the happiness and tranquility I always felt at the farm. I am considering working at an animal refuge or national park as a career, which was influenced by my time spent at the farm more than any other experience. I hope you are all well. I think of the farm fairly often, and it always makes me smile.

Rachel S, Ann Arbor ~ 2011

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The Barkers, 3516 Township Road 124, Becks Mills, Ohio 44654 ~ barkers@tcsfarm.com


Last Update: 9/26/16
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