The paved acres of Frederick and our own wild ones are mostly strangers to one another, yet the past few weeks have witnessed a curious cross-over in the form of a pair of bleating goats and their dutiful caretakers. These of course are our own Flint and Arrow, as accompanied by the Stoney Lick Farm family.
Trying to outdo our previous two rounds of visits to Head Start classrooms, we followed the dreamings of a ‘friend’ in the Rock Creek class, who envisioned a “school-farm” in which the goats and horses would inhabit the soccer fields adjacent to their school. Compromising his ideal with reality, we settled on an hour’s union between farm and school. Since bringing a goat into the classroom would pose some sanitation violations, we followed the wise advice of one denizen of the class at Lucas Village, who matter-of-factly informed us that if we “brought any horses [or goats] they would have to stay outside.”
To introduce this outdoor playdate, our esteemed barn manager, Joy, and I crafted yet another ThorpeWood-original story, in which Flint the Goat, our narrator, runs around the farm, seeking help in preparing for a top-secret adventure. With the turn of each page, Flint thanks his latest helper and starts off running, as signified by the refrain “Thank you, I gotta go…CLIP CLOP CLIP CLOP.” In a strike of creative brilliance, Joy infused a musical element here as she furnished each pair of little hands with a set of vibrantly painted wooden spoons (clip cloppers) to hit together in mimicry of trotting goat hooves.
On the final page, when Flint is in the horse trailer ready to go, he asks his audience to guess where he and his friend Arrow are headed. While many students hope their beloved Mr. Sam is driving the goats to McDonald’s or Toys ‘R’ Us, our ‘friends’ eventually venture that the goats might be going to their school. To investigate if they guessed correctly, we zip up our coats, and head outside to the promising sight of Mr. Sam’s truck and trailer.
After showing their furry little faces, the goats are treated to the generous pats and brushes of their young and curious crowd. Thus wooed into service, the goats oblige our preschool ‘friends’ as each child takes a turn leading them around an obstacle course composed of hula hoops, cones, and a plywood bridge constructed by our resident craftsman, Scott. The others follow behind, armed with their musical spoons. After all goat-leading, bridge-bouncing, hula hoop-hopping, and clippity clopping are finished, our ‘friends’ return to their classroom, with promises of a visit to the farm easing our good-byes.