Sharing farm life with children for two generations.


Photos & Notes from Privious Summers

 

2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007

 

Photos & Letters
From Summer 2016


Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I had a wonderful experience at the farm! With problems of the real world a million miles away. Full of animals and beautiful sunrises. I enjoyed it so much and hope to be invited back. When I got in the car, me and Allison talked until our throats hurt and we fell asleep. I got so much freedom with the animals it was awesome! The blackberries and goat milk combination was really good! Ella W. -- 2016

 


sheep

 

My daughter Finley was at camp last week. I just wanted you all to know that she had an amazing time. She has not stopped telling us stories at dinner about her days on the farm. You would think she had spent all summer there and not just five days with all she has to say.  Thank you all so much for giving her such a wonderful experience. Julie W. -- 2016

 


doe & bunnies

 

Thank you for the energy you put into last week - all the thanks I could say don't seem like they would be enough to cover how I fee about it. Liesel's first time away from home with new friends was successful, and she would be interested in coming back another summer if she were invited/welcome to do so. Thank you for your guidance and care.  She made us stew for dinner last evening - 100% herself. She has made us the cereal for breakfast yesterday and she is making a lunch spread for neighbor friends just like she had during the week.  She picked out all of the ingredients at the store.  She also has been telling us that Richard's stories at evening time were "hilarious." Carolyn S. -- 2016

 


Small Pigs

 

Audrey wore herself out telling me all about her week with you. She loved every mnute of every day. We both felt a loss when we left the counryside - like we were leaving home. Thank you for creating such an incredible experience for us. it is one we will never forget. Ray P. -- 2016

 


Annie
 

Just a quick note to let you know that my son Stan had an incredible time at your camp the week before last. He said it was the best experience, plus the perfect combination of free time, trying new things and helping on the farm. He especially enjoyed caring for the goats -- milking, feeding, bottle feeding the orphans, and getting them into the barn in the evening. After picking Stan up, he was talking about attending next year before we were even 5 miles away from your farm! Again, thank you for facilitating a wonderful week for our son. Liz O. -- 2016

 


Apply

 

I just wanted to thank you for the amazing experience Francesca had at your farm. She absolutely fell in love with it and enjoyed herself so thoroughly that all she wants to do is come back! She will definitely be back next year and probably for multiple sessions, if that is allowed. She would love to come back this summer, even if only for a few days. It's incredible to see how she lights up when talking about her experience at the farm. Thank you again. Darian C. -- 2016

 



 

Thank you so much for inviting us into your home and feeding us. You have given me an experience that I will never forget. The freedom was amazing. I loved being able to go in the hay loft whenever you want. Or go to the bunny cage and pullet cage and hold them for as long as you want whenever you want. I love how all the people there want to do all of the same thing, have fun and work hard. I really felt like I lived at the farm. I wanted to stay there forever, that's why I had mixed emotions when I saw my mom drive up the driveway. My heart was very happy, but very sad. I talked to my mom about my experience for more than two hours straight until I fell asleep from exhaustion of talking, excitement, sadness, and joy of seeing my mom. Audrey P. -- age 12 -- 2016 P.S. Milking the goats was one of my favorite things to do.



I hope this note finds you and your family well.  You may not remember me, but I spent several years visiting the farm with my best friend, Jason H in the early to mid-1980's.  The weeks I spent learning from you and your family were some of the happiest times of my childhood. I'm pleased to share that my daughter, Samantha, will be a second-generation guest next summer.  She'll be six in February, and is already looking forward to her first experience.  She has a true love of animals and nature and I admire all the beauty she sees in the world. Thank you for all you've done to enrich the lives of your visitors.  I'm better person today because of those experiences. --Brad M.

 


 

Audrey wore herself out telling me all about her week with you. She loved every mnute of every day. We both felt a loss when we left the counryside - like we were leaving home. Thank you for creating such an incredible experience for us. it is one we will never forget. Ray P. -- 2016

 

 

Thank you so much for the AWESOME week at the farm. The animals were excellent, especially the goats. I loved waking up early to do the milking. Also it was very organized and the bunks were very clean. I loved getting to to do the small animal chore and the large animal chore. The moment I got in the car I started telling my mom about the goats, the rabbits, the pullets, the cats, the dogs, the sheep, and the peacocks and peachicks. I explained everything to her for about four hours. Thank you for letting me stay at your farm, it was really cool and super fun! Allie H. -- age 10 -- 2016

 


 

Both of my girls had an amazing time this summer at farm camp. They absolutely loved the animals and the opportunity to be independent while learning new things all at the same time.  They were asking to go back the minute they got back into the car and are still asking about it. Thank you so much for all that you do and for the experiences that you provide! By the way, they are OBSESSED with the granola cereal that was served in the mornings.  Could you please send along the recipe? Catherine S. -- 2016

 


It’s More Than Chicken Scratch to Me

For six years I went to live on the farm for five days every summer. That is thirty days total, five days a year for six years, and that collective month changed my life more than most anything else in my childhood (slash adolescence).

Until the day that I die, I predict, I will be able to taste the homemade honey oat cereal for breakfast, the apple cider that I helped to press myself, the hot chocolate poured thick like nectar each evening, the tangy fresh blackberries hand-picked from the Perimeter Trail.

I will be able to smell the musty hay in the barn loft, the goat milk steaming as it first hit the pail in the early morning, the woodsmoke of the Thursday supper hot dog roast, the pages of that old copy of National Velvet as they turned in the evening yard. I will be able to see the raggedy white peacock with several missing tail feathers as it crowed from the roof of the farmhouse, the mewling batches of kittens as they chased flies around the feedroom floor, the mob of goats crowding the entrance to their pen as I entered with my straw hat held high out of their reach. I will be able to hear mother ewes urgently calling to their lambs with deep, masculine bleats, the crow of the Grey Rooster as it escaped my clutches over and over and over, the happy snorts of the hogs as I came to greet them in the mornings with a scratch on the back, the angry clucking of a layer hen as I tried in terror to grab an egg from under her without getting my hand pecked.

This farm was where I learned to be my own person, where I learned to do the right thing even though no one may have been looking at the moment, where I learned my own strength, where I learned to take on real responsibilities, where I learned that there is more to life than screens and social hierarchies and academic achievements, where I learned that life can end at any moment and therefore is a thing to be treasured, even when it appears to suck. 

I formed unexpected friendships with two separate chickens throughout my time there... One friendship was formed with a snowy white Silkie named Puff. She had a sister named Huff. While Huff had the long white feathers on her head and feet characteristic of the Silkie breed, Puff, ironically, did not, leaving her smooth and demure and beautifully pure. It was as if her entire body was covered in down, and she was always miraculously spotless... She had a quiet and calm demeanor, and always stayed put no matter how obnoxious those around her were. I would spend hours at a time laid out in the shade or curled up in the barn with her in my lap, settled down with her eyes closed. It was a peaceful and simple friendship...

Then later, during my last year on the farm, I formed a friendship with a nameless hen. This hen was the pariah, or social outcast, of the laying hens...  Of course, everyone has heard of a pecking order, but I had never seen one in action, and I almost didn’t believe that a group of chickens could be so organized and hierarchical. So naturally, I did what anyone in my place would have done: I asked Richard, who owned the farm, if I could label each of the hens’ combs with a Sharpie to figure out their pecking order. And being a reasonable farm owner and animal caretaker, he quickly agreed and handed me a wide-tipped Sharpie seemingly out of nowhere...

The labeling process was long and complicated... During this process, fellow camp attendees passing by would get curious and enter the coop to observe, and before I knew it, I had a small army of children in straw hats and stained jeans handing distressed-looking hens to me so I could label their combs. Each hen received a letter of the alphabet, on both sides of their comb, written as largely and as neatly as possible... I had my posse of onlookers all lay quietly on the chicken coop floor and put them to work observing the pecking order in action. Whenever a hen was seen pecking another hen, the child would look for each hen’s letter and report the incident to me, and then I would record the pecker and the peckee on the official piece of paper towel. Once enough empirical evidence had been gathered, I started sketching out a pyramidal hierarchy of the hens’ pecking order, solving the list of random encounters like a logic puzzle or a Sudoku with letters instead of numbers.

The results were surprisingly consistent. Apparently a chicken, even with its tiny pea-sized brain, can keep track of a dozen fellow hens and their various places in the coop pecking order. And, just as I had suspected, at the very bottom of the heap sat my very own pal the pariah, also known as Chicken P. I patted her feathers in consolation at this revelation, even though she had been aware of it her entire life. That was simply her lot. Her feathers were a bit less voluminous; her crown was a bit duller; and thus she was destined to live her life bullied and ruffled, a punching bag for her coop sisters. She did not look particularly disturbed by this information, as she simply fluffed her feathers under my touch and clucked gently with her small head cocked.

The very next day the other children and I all went back to our respective homes, and I never saw the pariah, or the farm, ever again; I was too old to return the following year.

II cannot for the life of me remember my first moments on the farm as a wide-eyed nine-year-old, terrified of most things. But I will never forget my last.

Tess C. PA 2017


Thank you for my daughter Milly's amazing week on the farm. It was a memorable experience, and we've heard wonderful stories about it since her return . The three-piece chicken dinner joke never gets old. She is already planning for next year and hoping she'll be invited back. Thank you again for providing such a positive, life-changing experience for kids. It is truly special. Laura  t. -- 2016

 


We will never have enough words to express our gratitude to you for offering Lulu & Elia this summer opportunity. The farm experience has provided an endless stream of sweet memories for them to relive all year (and all life!) long. Experiences that have truly been life changing. I am attaching an essay Elia just wrote for class entitled -- Finding Freedom at the Farm. The assignment was to write about your best ever memory. Maricruz P. -- 2016

Finding Freedom at The Farm

The grass shimmers around me, wet with fresh mist. The sun is not yet up. All I see in the sky are faint wisps of light watercolors painted on a warm, magenta canvas. It's summer, and it is a cool Wednesday morning. Walking around, I hear the sounds of the animals waking up… I press my ear to the sturdy crimson door and I hear the baby orphan lambs wake up, the dull baaing of their tiny mouths with their tiny teeth.

I wait for the rest of the animals to wake up. I want to hear the goats. They seem to listen to me. Sometimes, I feel I can read their emotions. I feed them hay, they say thank-you with a satisfied crunch. If I try to feed them straw, they step back in disgust until I show them my other hand, full of hay.

 Standing on the hill, I look out across the hundreds of acres that feels like home after only a few days. Wheat sways gently. The wheat is not golden, either. It's actually a soothing beige, and the seeds are shiny and pale green like that of a yew berry. Inside, the seeds are creamy like sweet milk tinted with honey. Creamy, like the flour we hand-grind to be turned into honey bread.     

I feel the rhythmic beat of the whole farm’s heart beating in me, encouraging me to sink into the moment. To sink into this moment, this perfect moment in time, where everything is aligned in place, even me. I’m firmly in place, like I have found the place where I need to be. The place where I can be myself.

Now I know what real freedom feels like: wind blowing the tall grass around you, the rooster crowing in the morning. It feels like the hint of mystery that you can smell in the crisp morning air, or the moon lowering itself into the lone willow tree as the sun rises. Like the tart blackberries you can pick straight off the bush. Like the sounds of tiny goats chewing, crunching, and chomping their hay in what would otherwise be silence. Elia T. -- age 11 -- 2015

 


 

My name is Alice I have been going to your Country School Farm for the past five years. My first year (when I was 8) I went alone and I was so excited. I ended up making a lot of new friends and even helped rescue a dehydrated chicken. The more I think about it, the sadder I am that that i'm too old to go back. I wanted to thank you for the most amazing life experience you gave me for the past five summers.  Alice M. -- age 12 -- 2016


From four siblings:

Thank you so much for the wonderful week at the farm. I loved the creek walk, the projects (...mixing goat feed and making tea!), chores and all the games. Every time I go, the week is full of new things and surprises. I liked making our "cool down station" with the gators and tubs. I loved the bedtime stories and the hot chocolate. I love waking up early to milk and bottle feeding the orphan lambs. Thank you for a wonderful week. I love the farm every time I go. Nataile E. -- age 10 -- 2016

This year was such a success! I like to wake up in the morning to milk. The sunrise is so pretty. My favorite food there is the summer sausage and the stew. I am always looking forward to the farm every summer! I love Penny's hot cocoa and Richard's stories. I would like to live on a farm. Noelle E. -- age 8 -- 2016

I had a great time at the farm. I love to get the eggs. I really like the games we played with Ben and I loved the creek walk. It was fun to milk the goats. Vivian E. -- age 6 -- 2016

I can't wait until I can visit the farm. Elliott E. -- anticipating 2018


 

From two sisters::

It was so awesome being at the farm. Even though it was my 3rd time there it feels like my first. When do you get to go into a stall and play! Lucy S. -- age 8 -- 2016

This year I have had the best farm experience I have ever had. I can't really put my finger on my favorite part of that but that's probably for the best because it proves how much I love the farm. One of the things I love is the feeling you get there. SO many feelings! You feel freedom, satisfaction, and you feel pure happiness. It's funny how you imagine yourself eating an apple under a tree in peace and quiet at the farm but in reality you find yourself in the goat pen with your hair getting nibbled off. If I get invited back it will be my 6th year. If I could I would live on the farm. Thank you for letting me have the experience of a lifetime. So, once again, thank you so much for the best twenty five days of my life! Noraa S. -- age 12-- 2016


Cat

From two siblings:

I honestly don't know where to start. This has been my sixth year at the farm, and every year is different from the last. It really is amazing how an experience can be so familiar yet so new at the same time. Every time I come back home, the farm has made me the happiest version of myself I can be. I didn't expect this to change my life so completely when I first went. The most important part of the farm is the freedom you have along with the work. I can't think of another place that has made me enjoy doing the little things (sweeping, caring for animals, carrying jugs, making beds) quite so much. I know I won't ever run out of good memories for as long as I live, and I hope to make more. I can't think you enough. Lauren K.-- age 14 -- 2016

I love the farm. It’s weird that working hard is extremely satisfying. I have loved each year more than the last. One of my favorite sounds is hearing the pigs snort while you walk by their pen. I love seeing the garden and all the plants. I like how you can look at the peachicks play. One of the best things at the farm was sneaking up by the sheep and touching one. (I spent hours on that.) The little cute pullets in their little cages are always being smart when you open the door even slightly, and then go wild to hide away. Walking the little pugs involves them taking a fifteen-minute break when you walk them five feet. They are too cute! Annie is an apple addict. Edie is small and Eddy is a healthy pug. The chores are amazing! The house chore is satisfying. The dishes are fun.  Small animals is hard work but it is fun. The two chores that I led are loft and small animals.  The loft chore has you sweep the loft floor and feed the peachicks. Large animals is satisfying as well. The projects are fun also and satisfying. The farm in my opinion is the best place on planet earth.  Adam K -- age 10 -- 2016


 

From a 2001 visitor

Almost fifteen years ago, an elementary school-aged me visited the Country School Farm and had one of the best weeks of my life. I was talking with my boyfriend yesterday about an agriculture program and it led me to start reminiscing about my experience on your farm and in your home. I wanted to thank you for impacting me so greatly and leaving me with such wonderful memories. As a senior in college now, I've since lived in an eco-conscious intentional community for a year, worked at a nature conservancy, and started my college's beekeeping club. I have a deep appreciation for the earth, its people, and hot cocoa, and I very much believe these things are at least partially rooted in my experiences with you. I hope to send my children to your farm one day.  Eilidh J -- 10/13/16


I can't put into words how grateful I am to have had the chance to stay at the farm so many times, each time better than the last. You have always made me feel welcome and every time I go to the farm I always feel like I'm going home, to where I am genuinely happy. I have made so many fantastic memories during my stays and I wouldn't be the  person I am today without the farm. During my first week this year, I had the chance to help a chick hatch out of its egg in the barn. It was freezing, windy, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I cherish every visit to the farm and I will for the rest of my life. Thank you, for making my summers full of fun, laughter, and new experiences. My life wouldn't be same without you guys. Christina F -- age 14 -- 2011 - 2016


From two sisters:

Thank you for a wonderful week at camp.  It was so fun! I enjoyed milking goats, bathing dogs, and trying to touch the shy sheep. Thank you Richard for telling funny stories, Ben for doing games, and Madison for being very nice and fun and doing small animals.  Brynn B -- age 9 -- 2016

Thank you so much for a wonderful week at camp. I had so much fun especially walking the ferrets and Richard's storys, Ben's games and Penny's food. Brooke B -- age 8 -- 2016


I have had some of the best experiences of my life at the farm. I just wanted to thank you for some of the most amazing summers ever. Every year when my mom came to pick me up I would talk animatedly about my experiences. I cannot begin to say how grateful I am that I found out about the farm. Overall, I feel my time at the farm has helped mold me into the person I am currently. I've learned how to treat animals, how pleasant being around others can be (I'm a major introvert), responsibility,  and most importantly the feeling of freedom. My most prominent memory is walking the perimeter trail every year. I felt so relaxed and in tune with everything going on in the nature around me. Ysabella S -- age 14 -- 2017




It is a testament to the experience you have created that John Daniel wanted to come to TCSF Open House. For us, it's a five hour drive, and he will spend just a little while in the place he loves. Thank you from this mom of Cooper, Michael, and John Daniel for providing them with special experiences about which they describe for years. Thank you for giving them ownership of your place. You are such gentle and firm guides. Jenny C -- Lexington, KY --May 7, 2017

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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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