Sharing farm life with children for two generations.


Summer 2017

The Summer Experience


Summer is our busy growing season...

...when garden crops are sown and tended one after another. Hay is harvested and stored away for winter in the barn loft.

Our sheep, dairy goats and hens are free from winter's confines and grazing on green pastures. The countryside yields its harvest of wild berries. Each month, week, or day here is unique and reflects the current state of our many ongoing projects. The days are varied and pleasant, active yet relaxed. At any particular hour you may find some of us busy in the barn, kitchen, gardening, harvesting hay, grinding corn, with the rabbits, ferrets or goats, carrying a young pullet (big chick), in the orchard or gathering berries or walking the perimeter trail with a friend..
At regular meetings, current projects and problems are discussed and children are briefed on the activity of their choice. All activities are carefully scaled, hands-on and approached in groups of two or more, led by family members and followed by farmstead time, a time to just be on the farm or with the animals.

 

Both new and returning children are challenged by our ongoing growth and diversity, yet satisfied by the consistency and security of family farm life. And, while the farm experience is highly organized for obvious reasons, the child's basic perception is one of freedom in a relaxed atmosphere. Our visitors continuously exercise initiative.  


A Typical Day

The schedule below includes farmstead time; when visitors get to simply be on the farm and with the animals. Farmstead time gives our visitors time to absorb and enjoy the farm on their own terms.

Morning

  • Rise, make beds, milking (for those awake early enough and interested)
  • Farmstead time
  • Breakfast
  • Morning chores chosen (small animals, large animals, feedroom, barn sweeping, kitchen, house)
  • Farmstead time
  • Morning projects chosen (livestock, garden, food gathering & preparation, farmstead repairs or improvements, wool mill, woodlot, foraging, haymaking, winnowing, etc.)
  • Farmstead time

Midday

  • Lunch
  • Midday chores chosen
  • Farmstead time
  • Afternoon projects chosen, creek walk, hay gathering, or hilltop games
  • Farmstead time

Evening

  • Supper
  • Evening chores chosen
  • Farmstead time
  • Evening yard tarp meeting, barn closing
  • Showers
  • Penny's honey cocoa
  • Board games, puzzles, personal reading time etc.
  • Meeting to recap the day's events, storytelling
  • To bed in the farmhouse

 

 A Day on the Farm

About an hour after the sun first peeps over the horizon, we milk our dairy goats. Early risers join us while others can sleep for an hour or so longer when the breakfast bell rings as it has for forty-two years. Before breakfast, late sleepers are awakened. After breakfast, morning chores are chosen; routine tending of livestock, in the feedroom, in the kitchen, house, workshop or garden. We form small groups of two to eight. Farmstead time always follows projects and chores which finish at different times and for a time children can be with a favorite animal, in a special spot, walk the perimeter trail, explore the garden with a friend or just be on the farm.

Around midmorning timely projects are chosen at a meeting in the barn loft. These can be with the livestock; in the garden; food preparation; improvements or maintenance on the farm; building projects; carding/spinning/weaving in the wool mill; firewood making, shelling and winnowing corn; haymaking, etc.

The morning projects done, the sun high overhead, appetites become evident and the lunch bell rings. Everyone heads for the plum-colored (kitchen) door and carries something to the picnic tables under the trees. After lunch, its midday chores.

Afternoon's vary. On Mondays we meet to choose farm projects. On Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, depending on the weather,we bring in hay or play active games. On Thursdays we hike to our beloved Troyer's Hollow for our creekwalk followed by a change of clothes and a cookout back at the farm.

Evenings begin with the supper bell followed by supper, chores and farmstead time. A whistle signals a gathering on the tarp in the evening yard, closing up of the barn for the night followed by showers. Penny's honey cocoa is served around the kitchen table. Quiet board games and reading follow before the meeting in the front room to recap the day's events. The day ends with story telling and the going to bed game, everyone pleasantly tired, very satisfied and ready for a good night's sleep...a breeze blowing through open bedroom windows .


 The Best Time to Visit

People ask how summer weeks differ. The farm is always changing due to the organic nature of things, the seasons, the weather and the variety of our plants and animals. There is so much happening at once—our garden, animal, building and repair projects are always in different stages so we must adjust care, feed and harvest patterns. This requires everyones focused collaboration, continuous observation and attention to detail, all essential to success on a farm..

Garden varieties are succession sown, cared for, and harvested throughout the spring, summer and fall. Hay is made every summer week, depending on the weather. Ear corn needs shelled and winnowed every week. Wild and domestic herbs and berries are ready at different times. Everbearing red raspberries usually ripen throughout the summer while mulberries come in June, black raspberries in July and blackberries, elderberries and our grapes ripen in August. Sauce apples are harvested in midsummer, eating apples a little later and cider apples are collected in the fall. Lambing and kidding take place in the spring and these young animals grow larger throughout the following months. Kittens, bunnies and chicks come anytime.
Bantam hens get broody in the warm months and set on eggs all summer. Twenty-one days after a hen begins to set, chicks begin to peck their way out. For the past few summers some one-hundred chicks were hatched at various times and in various secret and not-so-secret places throughout the barn and loft, much to the delight of everyone.
The farm is everchanging. There is a flood of milk in the spring and summer while by late fall there is a shortage, yet butterfat content is higher at this time. In addition to our daily routine chores and various farm projects, each day brings unexpected events that must be addressed: One of the cats is having her kittens where they are sure to fall. How can we best move them so we don't disturb the mother's nurturing? A pea hen has laid her eggs dangerously close to the edge of the woodloft. We'll have to build a guardrail around them. The sheep or goats have broken out of their pasture and are in the orchard. We must round them up in a cool and collected manner that doesn't force them further into the garden.

 

What is the best time to come to the farm?

Anytime, since each day contains the constancy of routine and the excitement of new happenings.

 

 

The Country School Farm
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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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