19 September 2010

Slate Run Living Historical Farm

I am home this morning hoping that the muscles in my back which are preventing me from standing straight this morning loosen up over the next hour or so and allow me to sing with the choir during our second service. It took much convincing from my husband to get me to stay home from first service (especially since I had already dragged myself out of bed and taken a shower), but I think it's probably the best choice. I mean, if I can't stand up straight, how do I expect myself to stand for 30 minutes during worship?

I have far too much going on right now to deal with my back going out. The good news is that I have a little extra time to blog this morning, so I'm going to take it! The kids and I are enjoying a relaxing, stress-free morning. They're playing with legos, Lukas turned the River on the radio, and I'm blogging while sipping my morning cup of tea and munching on a scone. It would be a perfect start to the day if I wasn't supposed to be at church right now.

So let's get to the title of this blog, right? We decided over the past year and a half that we really didn't want to continue to be actively involved in our homeschooling co-op. Weekly meetings, planning and teaching classes just got to be too much even though we enjoy all those things. They're all good things, but, after praying about it, we decided that it would be better for our family to try something else for a while. I prayed for a year and a half for the Lord to show us another option for our family which would take less time and commitment or to simply release us from feeling like we should continue in our co-op. Just as we were ready to quit attending our co-op whether or not we found another option, Home on the Rock, the organization of which we are members and which governs several co-op groups in central Ohio, started a new GEM, which stands for "Giving Encouragement and Motivation," group that sounded ideal. They're planning field trips, special events, outreach and crafts once each month as well as a monthly Mom's night (which, thus far, I have not been able to attend). Field trips are one of our favorite things to do, so I immediately contacted the ladies who were starting this group and got involved. The best part is that there is really no commitment, and, when you are committed to so many things, this is a good thing. We just RSVP for the events we wish to attend and skip the ones which aren't interesting to us (or if we simply can't attend). I love this approach!

We had our first field trip with our new GEM on Thursday. We went to Slate Run Metro Park to the Living Historical Farm (um...I'm sure you read the title and guessed). We've been wanting to make it to the farm for a few years, and it always seems to rain every time we plan it. This time, it also rained, but it stopped just in time for our tour!

I was impressed with the tour. The farm has no electricity or running water, just like it was in 1880. They grow their own food, and, from what I understand, they fully support the animals which are on the farm with what they grow. For those of you who are local, I'll detail the tour for you. I hope that you'll go. I think your kids will love it, and you don't need a group to visit the farm. Go as a family, just make sure you go on a day that they're actually open. Check for details on the metroparks website.

Our tour began on the steps of the farmhouse, and then we went into the parlor where there is a 160 year old piano!!!! I neglected to get a photo of it, so I just might have to go back just for that! In the parlor, the children sat on the floor just as they would have in 1880 to show respect for the adults. They learned about the way in which families would spend rare days of leisure in 1880. We also visited the sitting room where we learned about games and chores which children would have done, and then we visited the kitchen and learned a little about cooking, cleaning and more about chores. Then, the kids were put to work. Every child who was big enough carried wood from the wood shed to the house. Even the littlest guy, who honestly can't be much more than a year old, carried a piece.

The next part of the tour headed to the summer kitchen, which was behind the house. They gave an extensive explanation of food preservation including canning, smoking meat and drying foods. The kids asked lots of questions. This part of the tour was probably the only time that I noticed the younger kids getting antsy. We were in the summer kitchen for a very long time, and, while I found it to be interesting, after about 15 minutes, the kids were checking-out. Still, they learned a lot, and not everything has to be 100% engaging, right?

We visited the smokehouse and root cellar before heading to the barn to visit and learn about the animals. The kids met the horses, saw them pull the hay wagon and got to pet them. They got to see how the sheep are moved from their meadow to the barn. They knew exactly where to go, which the kids thought was pretty cool! 3 sheep escaped, which they thought was funny, of course. They also got to feed the pigs, visit the turkeys, feed the cows and explore the barn. There were chickens as well, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something. The farmer was humorous to me. You could tell he really enjoys his job in spite of the hard work it must be to care for a farm without any modern conveniences.

What I really enjoyed was that nothing was rushed. The tour is relaxed, and the kids have plenty of time to ask questions. When we were done, the farmer allowed the kids to explore for as long as they wished. It was an ideal experience for them.

If you live in central Ohio, this field trip is worth your time. It's free, and you can plan your day so that you can have a picnic, play at one of the playgrounds and even do some hiking while you're there if you want. I really believe that you'll love it if you go! Even if you have to travel to get there (it's about 25 minutes from our house), it's worth it.

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