August Litter Clean Up

We ThorpeWoodians are proud adopters of Catoctin Hollow Road. Every few months, we get together to clean up litter from the road’s edge and the neighboring ravine. This past Wednesday, Lisa Crawson, Theresa Fallon, Sam, Julie, Jeff, and I headed out to the road armed with trash bags.

As per usual, the morning mostly consisted of collecting discarded beer cans and fast-food packaging. However, there are always a few interesting items to keep things lively! My team, which consisted of Jeff, Lisa, and myself, rolled six tires up the bank of the ravine from the stream below. We also found a dumping spot with the decor of a baby’s old room – including shag carpeting and a changing table. Sam, Julie, and Theresa found an old cooler, among other lost treasures. The greatest find of all wasn’t trash at all, but rather a wonderful road-side swimming hole! After I had a swim, we all returned to the barn for ice cream sandwiches.

We plan to do another road clean up at 9am on November 2nd. As this is election day, we thought it was an appropriate day to do our civic duty for our community and nature. If you would like to join us, please email me at [email protected] See you then!

Posted in Activities for You, Volunteering

Storytime: The Worry Stone & The Kissing Hand

For this month’s Third Thursdays at ThorpeWood storytime, we chose two books on the theme of dealing with tough emotions. We thought it was a fitting topic as kids are going back to school – which can be difficult even in the simplest of times. We started with one of our farm stories, The Worry Stone (read it here). In this story, the main character uses a worry stone to rub away his tough emotions and helps another child find a worry stone of his own. After reading the story, we went on a hunt for our own worry stones to take home. After strolling through the arboretum, around the pond, and back again, we settled in for another story.

The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn, was our second selection for the day. In this story, the little raccoon is headed for his first day of school and needs some comfort. Luckily, his mama knows just what to do. She stores a kiss right in the center of his palm for him to enjoy again and again. Our young attendees were riveted by this idea – while their moms melted at the story. Before sending everyone on their way, I encouraged the families to use both techniques – the worry stone and kissing hand – to deal with tough emotions.

This was our last storytime for now as the farm is getting quite busy with field trips and programs of all sorts. We hope you check out these books and find some comfort in their messages!

 

Posted in Third Thursday Storytime

Thank You, Farm Volunteers!

We are so exceptionally grateful for our team of young farm volunteers who have been helping out at the farm for many months! These young people have just returned to school, so I no longer get to see them for our weekly adventures together. However, they are still coming on weekends to help with morning feedings with Sam!

Ode to Shannon

A recent transplant to our mountain, nine-year-old Shannon is a constant delight. She is whip-smart and full of great ideas. She has helped tremendously as a sounding board for program ideas, as a caretaker of our animals, and as an author of farm stories. She is best known for her work on Puddy Maws: True Stories That Never Happened. Shannon has been a regular at the farm since early March – averaging about four hours of volunteering per week. THANK YOU, Shannon!

Zoe’s Tribute

A fellow denizen of the mountain, Zoe lives just a few minutes from the farm. We were lucky enough to have her as our farm volunteer every Wednesday morning since early February – averaging about 3 hours per week. Zoe is a dedicated stall cleaner (specializing in goat stalls) and a great helper at feeding time. She is generous with her time and effort – especially where Scratch the Cat is concerned! She has so much love to give. Our animals are incredibly grateful for all her attention! THANK YOU, Zoe!

Praise for Connor

Connor is our weekend helper – Sam’s right-hand man. Though I rarely get to see him, I hear tales of his dedication. Connor is a reliable worker each weekend. He is a great help with weekend feedings and is growing into new chores around the farm. He has been present for the dismantling of a giant fallen tree branch and has used his muscle to lay a stone walkway. He is getting ready to take on more challenges around the farm and we can’t wait to see all that he is capable of! THANK YOU, Connor!

 

Posted in Stoney Lick Farm, Volunteering

Head Start Summer Camp (Part II)

Our Head Start summer camp is done for the year. We had such fun with our littlest farm visitors! If you haven’t already, take a look at Part I of our summer camp blog to see what we did in the first half of summer (click here to read that post). Or, continue reading here to come along with us on our second half of summer camp!

Day 4

Morning

On the morning of our fourth day of summer camp, we began by telling the class that the horses had a big appointment in town tomorrow – and they needed to get all cleaned up for the occasion (this appointment, incidentally, was our outing to Thurmont’s ‘A Day in the Park’ – read about that day here). So, the kids brought our horses in from the field and groomed them with brushes and curry combs. Before the bath, however, we decided to have a little bit of fun. In small groups, we painted the horses with finger paints and paraded our creations in front of the other groups! Everyone then bathed their horse with soapy water and sponges. While the horses dried, we headed to the hay playground to romp and swing in the hay.

Afternoon

After lunch, we brought out some mirrors and face paint markers to gear up for extreme hide and seek. The kids (and adults!) used the greens, browns, and blacks to turn their faces camo for the occasion. We got into three small groups and began our hiding and seeking in the arboretum. To keep everyone accounted for, we both hid and sought while sticking together in small groups. It was wonderful fun – especially to see the teachers and aides get so competitive!

Day 5

Morning

As the kids got off the bus on the fifth morning of summer camp, we explained that we did not get all of our farm work done yet! Mr. Jeff didn’t finish his maintenance check of the farm machinery or get all his nails and screws into the wood boards. Miss Joy didn’t get to cleaning up the horse poop, grooming the animals, or adding new stone dust to the chicken pen. We needed to help them! So, we got down to business cycling through each of these activities – taking ten minutes or so at each station to help Miss Joy and Mr. Jeff get their work done. The kids took to their work exceptionally well! 

 

Afternoon 

In the afternoon, we had one last bit of work to finish – checking on the horses’ hay supply. So, we headed over to the hay playground to do just that (and bounce and swing a bit, too!). Afterward, we were rewarded for all of our hard work with a half-hour on the slip n’ slide! Everyone had such fun getting wet on this hot day!

Day 6

Morning 

Finally, on our last day of summer camp, we did our traditional end-of-summer adventure – a trip down Coffee Hollow to our favorite stream spot! We began the morning with a wagon ride around the farm to say good bye to all of our animals. Still aboard the wagon, we left the farm and headed over to ThorpeWood’s lodge where the Coffee Hollow trailhead is. We hiked down the trail about a half mile until we came to our special spot. Here, we got in the stream, splashed, hunted for rocks, and found our natural water slide. We carried on in this matter until lunch.

Afternoon

In the afternoon, we ate lunch around our stream-side fire ring. When everyone had finished their lunches, we read our farm story, The Worry Stone (read it here). Afterward, we collected our own worry stones to bring home with us. The kids took great care in finding just the right special stone. While we took a few more minutes to play in the stream, Miss Joy lit our campfire for marshmallows. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their treat – whether it was burnt, cold, or just right. Tired and happy, we hiked back up the trail to the bus. Here, we ceremoniously presented the children with the tee shirts they had decorated a few weeks ago and their end-of-summer-camp log medallion necklaces.

We will miss this batch of kids!

Posted in Head Start, Horses, Stoney Lick Farm

Head Start Summer Camp (Part I)

Head Start is back on the farm! We are just so excited to have our littlest friends back exploring our woods and loving our animals. Each of the two classes of Head Start summer camp has been coming out once a week to have some fun with us. 

Day 1

Morning

The kids arrived at the farm for the first time since Fall 2019. We reintroduced them to our property with a wonderful session of exploration. With little metal buckets in hand, we journeyed out into the woods to collect all kinds of rocks, sticks, flowers, pinecones, and more. When we returned to our home base at the farm pavilion, we used all of these findings (plus some paint) to make some nature art!

Afternoon

After lunch, we introduced everyone to our EXTREME obstacle course. The kids scaled a haybale mountain, climbed over and under our board fencing, navigated hula hoops, followed horseshoes, ran through the sprinkler, snuck through the electric fence ‘lasers,’ and so much more! 

Day 2

Morning

For our second day of summer camp, the kids began their morning with one of our farm stories called ‘What’s That Sound’ (read it here). This story sets up an adventure in which we have to track down all of our farm animals: goats, horses, cows, chickens, and bugs! We had a fantastic time loving and brushing the animals.

Afternoon

For the afternoon, we took the kids on an observation hike. We used ears, eyes, hands, and noses to find out more about the property. We farm folk wrote down all of the observations the kids made. When all the groups returned together at the end, we circled up to share our findings!

Day 3

Morning

This was a very different sort of morning! First, we ‘accidentally’ got the kids off the bus at the wrong stop! We unloaded the buses at our neighbor’s property and explained to the kids that we needed to find our way to the farm. Luckily, we could use ponds and streams to help us navigate. After finding the stream that runs between the two properties, we got everyone in the water and began our stream hike! The kids had such fun splashing and looking for clues that we were headed in the right direction. In the end, we successfully found the farm and spent the remainder of the morning drawing maps to commemorate our journey. 

Afternoon

After our intense morning adventure, we relaxed a bit in the afternoon. First, we stenciled tee shirts with various farm and nature-themed stencils at our picnic tables. We followed this up with the ultimate dose of fun: our 10’x25′ slip n’ slide! This was such extraordinary fun! The kids could not get enough of it!

Stay tuned for our Summer Camp (Part II) update! We have so much more fun to share!

Posted in Head Start, Stoney Lick Farm

A Day in the Park

This summer, we were invited to be presenters at Thurmont’s summer rec program called ‘A Day in the Park.’ So, this past Wednesday, we loaded up Geysir the horse and our two goats for a little outing to the Thurmont Community Park. Here, we greeted their 17 campers for a morning of animal fun!

The campers came in small groups to learn about our animals and get some hands-on time with them, too! After greeting the animals with our ‘animal handshake,’ everyone got busy brushing and currying the animals. This, we told them, is a great way of getting everyone comfortable around the animals – and getting the animals used to having new people around them. 

After that, the kids took turns leading the goats and the horse around the park. For the goats, we set up a little obstacle course with cones, hula hoops, a wooden bridge, and more! It was so cool to see the kids’ confidence grow as they learned how to navigate our goats and horse.

The campers and volunteers alike were exceptionally grateful for our visit. We were so happy to be invited and get the chance to share our animals with our local townsfolk!

Posted in Horses

Laurel Hall at the Farm

The lovely teachers at Laurel Hall School reached out earlier this month to see if they could bring some of their summer school students out to the farm. Of course, we said YES! So, last week, they brought their first group out to enjoy some time with the animals and our stream.

The middle school girls began their day by having a little walk around the farm. We stopped into the horse fields to greet our horses and goats. We petted chickens and gave some love to the cows. The girls were excited and curious about all of these creatures who were, in turn, so very excited and curious about them! 

We then got down to more serious business – finger painting our horses! We chose Snuder as our canvas and spent some time creating art with him. Afterward, we gave him a bath and released him back out into the field. We stood and watched as he performed his obligatory post-bath roll in the grass. The girls were simply delighted. “He looks just like a dog rolling!” shouted one of the ladies.

The Laurel Hall staff and students then retired to our farm pavilion for their lunch and a bit of free time.

The day ended with a hike down our Coffee Hollow Trail to our favorite ‘swimming’ spot. Here, the girls got in the water, hunted for stones, splashed, and generally had some fun! They very much did not want to leave when the time came. 

We hope we see this group again soon!

Posted in Stoney Lick Farm

New ThorpeWood Sign

We are oh-so delighted to show off our new ThorpeWood sign! Perhaps you’ve seen it if you’ve been by the property lately? It replaces a similar older sign that was showing its age a bit much. This sign was expertly crafted by local artisan Erin Aylor. His other work, ranging from knives to kinetic sculptures, is definitely worth checking out. Visit his website here, or follow him on Instagram at @ErinLutzerAylor. 

Let us know what you think of the new sign! 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

The Bridge @ ThorpeWood

This past Saturday, families from Cedar Brook Community Church’s The Bridge program came out to enjoy a restorative day in nature. This group of single moms and their families was led by Angela, a volunteer we have seen before with one of our favorite past groups, The Samaritan Women. Angela remembered how wonderfully peaceful and healing our farm had been for these past women – and was excited to offer this experience to the women and children of The Bridge.

We began the day with a slow hike around the farm. We stopped often to take in the natural beauty and catch our breath. Occasionally, the kids would bolt ahead to fawn over an interesting something in the trail. The moms chatted with one another and asked what kind of tree this is, and that is (magnolia, weeping beech). 

We ended the hike at the main barn, where we went out into the field to love some animals. As is common, the goats were the first to come over, demanding love and attention. Everyone obliged, scratching behind Flint and Arrow’s big floppy ears, and stroking down their backs. We then collected our horses, Bylgia and Fandi, for the main event.

Before we could begin doing some art therapy (finger painting on the horses), we got out the grooming kits and set everyone to work brushing and currying all the dirt and mud from the horses. We love to watch people really lose themselves in this process – it is such a deep sensory experience that connects them to this much larger animal.

Once the animals were all clean, we got out the paints and brushes. Immediately, every got down to business – painting flowers and bumble bees on our horses. It was wonderful to see the moms and children work together to create this piece of art. We were especially delighted to see their program pride as one woman wrote ‘Bridge’ on Fandi’s back. It was the group’s signature. 

When painting was done, everyone grabbed a soapy sponge and got to work cleaning up. Fandi and Bylgia were grateful for the bath – and showed that gratitude by promptly rolling when we released them back into their field!

After a quick lunch in our pavilion, the families rejoined us for some time with the animals. After all, chickens hadn’t been held yet and the cows hadn’t gotten the opportunity to lick everyone! Everyone enjoyed the comfort of the animals and was exceptionally grateful for the day at the farm. We hope to see this group again soon!

Posted in Horses, Stoney Lick Farm

CCPS’s Humble Warriors

Last week, we kicked off the summer in the best way possible – with Carroll County Public School’s Humble Warriors Camp. This camp for fifteen rising 6th grade girls was led by the amazing Stephanie Dale. Earlier this year, each of CCPS’s Title I school principals and guidance counselors hand-selected 5 girls whose natural strengths would be augmented by an empowering camp experience. After meeting together over zoom for the month prior to camp, everyone finally was face-to-face last Monday morning at ThorpeWood’s Homestead Barn.

The week took everyone through a variety of themes: ‘worry & anxiety,’ ‘acceptance,’ ‘be, do, have’, ‘strength,’ and ‘gratitude.’ Each day’s yoga session, led by Missy Shock of Rapha Holistic Wellness, was anchored in the day’s theme and acted as a prelude to the activities to come. The week spanned so many wonderful moments and activities – here are just some of the highlights, categorized by the days’ themes.

Day 1: Worry and Anxiety

After reading our farm story, The Worry Stone (check it out here), the girls took a hike down our Coffee Hollow trail to a great section of Bussard Branch. Here, they hunted for their perfect worry stone. After taking time to play and explore in the stream, we all hiked back and the girls spent the afternoon painting their worry stones. Some of these painted rocks were hidden around the property for future visitors to find. Others were kept as worry stones – something you can keep in your pocket to hold and rub when anxiety sets in.

Day 2: Acceptance

This rainy day centered around accepting yourself for who you are. The complicated emotions and thoughts that go along with this topic could be sorted out by journaling, so the girls set to work making their own personalized journals. These became beautiful art projects covered in photos of themselves, their families, and their pets. The girls were so comfortable sprawled out on their yoga mats in the homestead barn. It was a joy to see this space become their home.

Day 3: Be, Do, Have

Day three was all about setting goals. Who do you want to BE? What do you want to DO? And what do you want to HAVE? The ladies constructed vision boards to answer these questions with cut-out images from magazines. The overwhelming number of folks who wanted to be teachers speaks well of Stephanie Dale, their teacher for the week! This forward-thinking day also included a visit from Bill Eckles, CCPS’s Supervisor of Career and Technical Education, who gave a talk in our Pine Cathedral.

Day 4: Strength

On their second to last day, the girls explored strength. Part of this day was to meet some strong animals – our horses! The girls engaged in some art therapy by painting the horses. Using both paintbrushes and their bare hands, they decorated our animals beautifully. Everyone was so delighted to connect with our animals and work as a team to make some beautiful living art!

Day 5: Gratitude

The final day of camp was all about looking around you, being grateful for what you have. As part of this day, the girls had some options. Either they could go for a hike to the stream to take in and enjoy the natural setting in a hands-on way, or head over to the pond to document the surrounding beauty on canvas. Both groups had such fun enjoying each other and our farm on their final day of camp.

We are so grateful to have hosted and helped out with this camp experience for these amazing girls! We expect to make this a yearly tradition in partnership with Stephanie Dale of CCPS. 

 

Posted in Horses, Stoney Lick Farm