Wholistic Women in the Woods

Oh, what a wonderful day with the Wholistic Women in the Woods! Around 25 ladies gathered in our homestead barn today for a women’s retreat to be inspired and restored. After a brief introduction by the group’s leader, Kelye Brown, the women were set free from their seats to go out…and play! Full-grown women lulled about in the grass kicking balls, throwing frisbees, riding the seesaw, and trying to recapture their younger self’s ability to hula hoop. After regrouping about 15 minutes later, the ladies began a new kind of play called ‘Let Your Yoga Dance,’ which was essentially a yoga class meets dance party. The amount of laughter and silliness that filled the homestead barn was wonderful.

Next up, the women learned about nutrition and wellness under the instruction of Kim Wilson, a holistic coach. Everyone took that talk and information with them to their picnic lunch at the pavilion. Here, everyone sat around at the picnic tables and got to know one another. 

The afternoon began with a creative writing workshop in the pine cathedral with writer Katie Ritter. The women wrote to their past selves, their future selves, or remembered a time they found the strength to handle what had to be done. The women opened their hearts to share their writings and offer support to others.

Next up, I led the women in a forest bathing experience. We started in the dawn redwood trees with a sensory awakening in which we tuned into each of our five senses. We then followed different ‘invitations’ as we strolled through the woods. I was delighted beyond measure to see these adult women spontaneously climbing trees. 

The day concluded with the group coming together to build and enjoy a fire at our fire ring. There is nothing quite like gathering around to enjoy the warmth and dance of the flames. It was a truly wonderful day that we hope to recreate again someday soon!

Posted in Meetings, Nature Preserve, Stoney Lick Farm

New Animals at the Farm!

We ThorpeWoodians have been playing around with the idea of getting a new animal at the farm for a while now…but what to get? Sheep, pigs, more chickens, alpaca? We were set on only adding a productive farm animal to the family, and have finally made a decision…GOATS!

Although they don’t have names just yet, we have acquired two baby pygmy goats. They are twin boys and about three months old. We have high hopes for these little guys. First and foremost, our two new friends are planning to become stars of our animal programs. Who can possibly resist the spunk and silliness of pygmy goats? Second, Jeff is planning to train them as his new assistants – a part of the brush clearing team. We plan to have portable fencing that we will move around the property wherever brush needs to be cleared. This will reduce our reliance on weed killers and generally add an air of whimsy about the farm. 

For now, we are doing our best to socialize our new goats and will be starting lead training soon! Many more goat updates to come…

Posted in Stoney Lick Farm

ThorpeWood is Hiring!

Part-Time Barn Manager
 
15-20 hours/week | $15-18/hour
 
ThorpeWood is a 160-acre mountain retreat that runs animal and nature programs for all ages, primarily at-risk youth. We also are a wedding and events venue.
 
We are looking for someone local, hard-working, and upbeat to care for our 5 horses, 3 goats, 2 cows, and flock of chickens. Duties include feeding animals, cleaning stalls, harrowing fields, being attentive to medical issues, grooming, ordering grain and shavings, coordinating with the vet, farrier, and weekend barn help, etc.
 
Our ideal candidate would also be eager to help out with property maintenance and/or outdoor programs.
 
Must be able to lift 50 pounds, stack and throw hay, drive a horse trailer and tractor (or be willing to learn).
 
Must have experience with large animals.
 
Must be available 7-10 am Monday-Friday (additional hours available, including weekends if desired)
Posted in Horses, Stoney Lick Farm

Head Start Returns – Spring 2022

We are delighted to welcome back our Head Start friends to the farm for the spring season! We have cultivated a fun-filled farm experience for these kids on their two long days with us. 

 

On the first day, we will begin with a visit to all of our animals – horses, goats, chickens, cows, rabbit and bumble bees! After such a long winter, the animals are oh-so lonely for the loving touches and hugs of our littlest visitors. After lunch in the pavilion and playtime in the riding ring, the kids will regroup for a round of exploration. With our little metal buckets, we will gather dandelions, pine cones, and assorted sticks. We will see the pond and field of buttercups. We will run and cartwheel across our 160 acres.

 

 

On day two, we will announce to the kids that we farm folk didn’t get our chores done quite yet. Could they help out for a bit? With their helping hands, we will take shedding blades to the horses’ winter coats, use our pitch forks to clean the fields of horse manure, play on the tractors to make sure all the buttons and levers are in good working order, and gather compost from the old manure pile for gardening. After lunch and free play outdoors, we will fill our afternoon with a trip to the stream. Here, we will travel across the new bridge, find the old log cabin in the woods, and pay a visit to the stream. If it’s warm enough, we will take time to splash and swim here.

For this season of Head Start visits, we are resolving to take it slow and enjoy each animal and activity. There will be no rushing or jam-packed activities.

Let’s savor this.

Posted in Head Start, Stoney Lick Farm

2021 Program Report

The Numbers

1396  Program Participants

406    Hours of Programs Delivered

4051  Participant Hours 

5320  Distance Learning Contacts

Distance Learning

With COVID-19 restrictions leaving our January-June calendar fairly light, we maintained relationships with our partner organizations through distance learning initiatives. Our 18 deliveries of farm mail and farm trunks to the 153 students enrolled in Head Start made for 2754 distance learning contacts. 

Our ThorpeWood youtube account had 2566 views in 2021, though we know this number to be far greater as one showing of a video was often presented to a classroom full of children. We also virtually participated in the Frederick Children’s Festival and FCPL Summer Reading Challenge, but we were unable to capture this involvement in numbers.

Individualized Programs

While we delivered our distance learning programs, we kept the farm busy by holding individual and small group sessions for local high-need youth. We delivered 176 hours of programs to these kids, which accounts for 43% of 2021’s in-person program hours. 

Traditional Group Programs

After COVID-19 restrictions loosened, the second half of our year was jam-packed with our traditional nature and animal programs. We explored the woods, partnered with our horses, played with mud, and so much more. Although our large-scale events were still canceled and the total enrollment of our main partner, Head Start, was cut in half, we still served 1393 people in our traditional programs. This is 71% of the participants we served in 2019 and 108% of 2018’s participants.

Summary

In a year dramatically marked by COVID-19, we delivered 406 hours of programs to 1396 people. We also served our partners through distance learning initiatives and offered much-needed individualized support to high-risk local youth.

With these small-scale programs and our efforts to fill out our summer and fall calendar to capacity, we are proud to have presented 1.5x more program hours this year than 2019 – which had, until now, boasted the highest recent program numbers. We now turn our energies to 2022!

Posted in Uncategorized

Coffee Hollow Bridge is Back!

A key element in ThorpeWood’s trail network has long been the bridge that spans the stream which runs through our property. However, a few years back, the bridge found itself dismantled by some errant young teens. Since then, we have been unable to cross over to the lodge  on our hikes without getting our feet wet or traveling far out of the way. However, all of that has changed now! We have finally found the materials and manpower to replace the bridge. 

 

Earlier this month, our visiting Amish friends and some Virginia Tech students who came to volunteer at the farm banded together under Jeff and Sam’s direction to get everything into place. With ropes strung under the logs at intervals, our crew managed to move the incredibly heavy logs across the stream. 

With the logs in place, the boards were then secured perpendicular to the logs to provide a safe walking platform for us. We are thrilled to have this bridge back up and running! Our trail network is reconnected thanks to the hard work and strength of our fine volunteers! 

Posted in Stoney Lick Farm

Honey Bees Coming to ThorpeWood!

We farm folk have been discussing getting some new animals for some time now. Placing a high value on educational animals for our visitors, we have decided that honey bees should be invited to the farm! However, we know that bees take a lot of knowledge and work, so we have found a very skilled person to help us on our way – Art MacLarty! Art runs Three Spartans Apiary here in Frederick County – find out more about his apiary here

Although the bees haven’t officially moved in yet, we are preparing for their arrival. Up at the garden, we have picked a spot for the hives – somewhere that gets the morning sun, is protected from wind, and has a water source close by. Electric fencing has been installed to deter the bears – and a colorful picket fence keeps visiting children safe from the electric fence!

Art has also brought swarm boxes to attract and catch swarming bees. We have these swarm boxes attached to trees by the pond, the manure pile, and at the chestnut orchard. 

Once we have bees housed on our property, Art plans to put up some educational information and photos for us to share with visitors. The info will change with the season to reflect what’s going on inside the hives. We are so excited to incorporate bees into our programming going forward!

Posted in Stoney Lick Farm

Farm Trunk Update

At the end of February, we sent our farm trunks back into the Head Start classrooms for the kids to interact with. A few of the teachers have been so kind as to send photos of their kids enjoying the trunks.

First up, Miss Joy of the Bernard Brown classroom has been hosting our friend Flat Fandi. It appears from the photos that Flat Fandi is enjoying himself tremendously while playing with legos and staying healthy with his yoga practice!

Meanwhile, over at Miss Ophelia’s Lucas Village classroom, the Bird Trunk is going over well! The kids are experimenting with the binoculars for bird watching, reading Feathers: Not Just for Flying, and doing some fun crafts to make their own feathery friend. We farm folk are so impressed and excited that Miss Ophelia is adding her own spin to the trunk with her fun craft!

We can’t wait to get more photos soon of all our Head Start friends and the farm trunks!

Posted in Farm Mail, Head Start

Farm Trunks Delivered!

With our classroom visits all wrapped up for the winter, our Head Start preschoolers needed a little something to hold them over until our spring visits to the farm start up. Luckily, we have just thing: our farm trunks! Learn more about our Farm Trunks here. This year, we sent out the following trunks: Horses, Chickens, Bugs, Nature’s Music, Pond Life, Sticks & Stones, Workshop Tools, Flat Fandi, Birds, and Camping. Each classroom received one of these delivered to their doorstep this past Tuesday. When they finish with their trunk after a week or so, they will be able to trade trunks with their fellow teachers. 

We have already received some photos of the kids playing with the trunks and are so delighted by their smiles and enthusiasm. We will post these photos and any others we receive soon!

Posted in Farm Mail, Head Start

Remembering Arrow

We are so sad to announce the passing of our dear goat, Arrow. He was put down on the 8th after he grew uncomfortable and skinny from cancer. His best buddy, Flint, seems to understand that Arrow is gone and has turned to his other friend, Snuder the horse. Luckily for us, our herd of horses is exceptionally sweet and welcoming, so Flint has become an honorary member of the Icelandic herd.

Arrow first came to us on Halloween 2016 and has been an active member in our programs ever since. He has been loved by folks of all ages – charming everyone with his sweet demeanor and occasional bursts of spunk. He was always such a trooper when we’d put the goats in the trailer to visit all the Head Start classrooms in the county. During these visits, he would obligingly follow preschoolers through an obstacle course.

Thank you to all who have loved Arrow. If you have any pictures or memories of our beloved goat, please do share them with us at [email protected]!

Posted in Stoney Lick Farm