Head Start Winter Visit #2

With our star chickens having just finished out the last of their classroom visits, Flint and Arrow the goats took charge of the second round of farm visits to the Head Start classrooms! We start each session with a reading of ‘Flint’s Great Adventure’ (read it here). In this story, Flint gets ready for a secret outing and the last page asks the kids to guess where he is going. Of course, the answer is to visit their classroom! At this point, we take the goats out of the trailer for the kids to love and brush. 

We then play a game of follow the leader, in which all the kids take turns leading the goats around the obstacle course while everyone else follows behind, making sure to hop through the hula hoops, weave through the cones, and stomp over the little wooden bridge. 

The whole session is a fun little reminder of what awaits the kids when they return to the farm this coming spring. We can’t wait to have them back!

Posted in Head Start

World Read Aloud Day 2022

In honor of World Read Aloud Day, we farm folk would like to share our love of reading! Our property manager, Jeff, so enjoys being read aloud to. While he works to make our property beautiful, his headphones are always playing audiobooks. When he goes home at night, he takes on the role of the reader as he reads to his four-year-old, Luke. I prefer my hard-copy library books for my own reading, but read aloud books to my little girl Josie every day. We also make a big effort to read aloud to our preschooler friends at Head Start any chance we get. For almost every visit, we have an accompanying book that we farm folk wrote ourselves. 

We have made these available online in two different ways:

 

 

Here on the blog, you can find many of our farm stories! The full list of blog posts featuring these stories can be found here.

 

 

 

We also have many read-aloud videos that can be found on our ThorpeWood youtube channel. The read-aloud playlist can be found here.

 

 

Happy World Read Aloud Day! Enjoy our stories! 

Posted in Activities for You, Farm Story

Head Start Winter Visit #1

Each year, we kick off January with visits to all of the Head Start preschool classrooms in Frederick County. Typically, we bring an hour’s worth of farm fun to play with indoors. Because of our ongoing pandemic, we have not been allowed to visit with the kids indoors. So, we have made the best of our situation by doing our visits outside on the playground or in neighboring fields. January’s temperatures have shortened our visits to around 20 minutes, though.

For our first round of visits, we had a chicken theme! We began our time together with our farm story “The All-Around Egg.” This story, written by our previous barn manager, Joy Smith, is a rhyming exploration of all we can make with our chickens’ eggs. You can read it here.

After the story was over, we pulled two chickens out of a little cat carrier. These honored guests were Stella and Ingrid, our two Speckled Sussex hens. Sitting in two circles around each chicken, Mr. Jeff and I told about the kids all about our beautiful hens and their many virtues (softness, wing-flappability, beauty, smarts, etc). The hens obliged all the pets and love of the children.

Finally, just as everyone’s hands were turning red with the cold, we sent the students back inside with egg cartons to decorate. After all, our beautiful hens deserve cheery egg cartons this time of year when the short, cold days get them down!

Posted in Head Start

Goodbye, Joy!

With the close of the old year, Joy Smith, our barn manager, moved on from ThorpeWood. Joy has been with employed by ThorpeWood since 2014, when she transitioned from being an Equine Assisted Learning volunteer to our full-time barn manager. In this role, she elevated the ThorpeWood barn to new heights of order and cleanliness – often evoking the wide-eyed visitors to exclaim, “this is the cleanest barn I’ve ever set foot in!” And it was most certainly true. Every shaving in the stalls was fresh and white, swept neatly into place. The waterers collected no dust. The aisle was blown and empty always.

But most importantly of all, every horse was loved beyond measure. Though not quite as immediately noticeable to a visitor’s eye, it would only take a moment for folks to feel just how much Joy genuinely loved and cared for each of our Icelandic horses. She would look out across the pasture and adoringly say, “Well just look at how fluffy Geysir is today!” or “My Stormy boy is just the most handsome!” She acted like each of them was her firstborn grandchild, who could do no wrong.

Outside of the barn, Joy was instrumental in all our programs. She was endlessly creative in writing new stories for and delivering programming to our preschoolers, dedicated to creating a touching Equine Assisted Learning experience for adult visitors, and excited to share her love of animals and nature with all. We were lucky to have such a passionate person about the farm. 

To acknowledge the impact of her 7+ years of service to ThorpeWood, we solicited letters of gratitude from the people she touched through her job here. Incredibly touching letters and photos came in and filled up her going-away scrapbook. If you have fond memories of a time with Joy and would like to share these, please email your note or photos to [email protected] and I will pass along your message!

Thank you, Joy, for all you have done for each of us – animals and people alike. We wish you well!

Posted in Horses, Stoney Lick Farm

2022 Resolutions

As the New Year presents a clean slate for us all, some of our animals’ thoughts turn to self-improvement and new goals. Many of them have embraced the ‘new you in 2022’ mindset. Take a look at what they are dreaming of for the coming year:

Ingrid & Stella the Chickens: Volunteer more. Travel the county visiting Head Start kids.

Matilda the Chicken: Overthrow Stella to become Queen of the Coop (top secret!)

Flint & Arrow the Goats: Become valuable property assistants by clearing brush in the arboretum.

Hope & Effie the Cows: Set new records on round bale speed-eating.

Vinur & Snuder the Horses: Learn to be a packhorse and help visitors take picnics and supplies to new destinations.

Some of our animals are fairly singular in their focus, and so their new year’s resolutions are carried over from last year. These animals know what they want and pursue their same life goals year after year.

June the Dog: Be cozier and warmer at all times. Also, kill all the vermin.

Scratch the Cat: Up the percentage of time I spend in the arms of humans.

Wally the Beaver: Take over ThorpeWood (and then all of Thurmont after that).

 

Best of luck to all our animals as they set out to accomplish these goals!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Horses, Stoney Lick Farm

Chestnut Orchard Clean Up

On December 10th, the Maryland Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation (MDTACF) came out to ThorpeWood for an orchard clean-up. Ron Kuipers and Bruce Levine of MDTACF led us ThorpeWoodians in the mission to remove dead trees from the area. With chainsaws humming, we made quick work of the project – leaving a total of 64 hybrid chestnut trees in the orchard. 

Back in 1997 when this orchard was established, ThorpeWood planted 374 hybrid chestnut trees to help TACF scientists find a blight-resistant chestnut tree and to help introduce this tree to our local forests. Learn more about ThorpeWood’s chestnut orchard here.

Posted in Nature Preserve

TJ EL Students – Visit 2

For a second visit to ThorpeWood, Thomas Johnson High School’s English Learners department came for a day of outdoor activities at the farm. They started bright and early in the morning with some ice breaker activities around the farm pavilion before breaking up into two groups. These groups took turns engaging in the activities of the morning: hiking and using microscopes. 

We farm folk led the one-hour long hike zigzagging in the woods above the stream. The light snowfall was magical – a few of the students had never seen snow before! It was such fun to take everyone on the wintery trek – some kids chose to sprint ahead and race one another, while others simply strolled along, pausing here and there to take photos. The TJ teachers, meanwhile, led the second group as they explored around the pond and learned to use microscopes! 

After the two groups had gone through both experiences, they merged back at the pavilion to make tree cookie ornaments and eat lunch. After lunch, a soccer ball bounced from kid to kid (while our dogs chased it) and a fire was started in the teepee firering up by the chickens. The kids so enjoyed building it and soaking in the warmth. 

We can’t wait to see these kids again in a few months!

Posted in Stoney Lick Farm

Tot Explorers at the Farm

Adams County’s Moms Supporting Moms group came out earlier this week to enjoy our property with their preschool-aged children. This group, called the Tot Explorers, braved some cold weather to really dig into our farm fun! We started the day with introductions to the animals – which included grooming the horses, petting the chickens, and greeting the goats and cows. The kids were intrigued by all of these loving farm animals!

We then got to the real farm ‘work’ – playing on tractors, cleaning up horse manure in the fields, and playing in the hay playground. Everyone had such a blast taking turns climbing up on the skid steer, kabotas, and tractor before grabbing pitch forks and cleaning up the fields. The kids were good little workers and definitely earned their romp in the hay playground. 

We ended the day with a wagon ride around the property before dropping everyone off at their cars to debundle and defrost!

Thanks to all the moms and kids for a great day!

Posted in Horses, Stoney Lick Farm

Heather Ridge School Volunteers

All fall long, we were blessed with the helping hands of Heather Ridge School volunteers. Led by teacher Barbara Nibert, a handful of students came out every other week to help with whatever projects we had going on. When the students arrived each day, we would start with a little introduction to our farm and have them meet our animals. It was such fun to have everyone relax into our beautiful farm before we got down to work!

Some days, we had students maintain trails by cutting overhanging branches with loppers or spreading woodchips on our more manicured trails. Other times, the students helped us unload hay for the animals…and design our hay playground for Head Start preschoolers! Here is a photo of our preschoolers enjoying the labor of these Heather Ridge kids!

Whatever work we set these volunteers to, they were polite and dedicated. They worked hard and appreciated the beauty of the farm around them. We are ever so grateful for their many hours of hard labor. They are a credit to their families, school, and community! 

Posted in Stoney Lick Farm, Volunteering

Head Start Fall 2021 – Day 2

 

With all ten classes of Frederick County’s Head Start program making their way out to the farm for field trips, we have been having endless fun here at Stoney Lick Farm! If you haven’t already read about our programs on the first day of farm visits, read all about it here. Here on this post, you’ll find what we’ve been up to on the second day of programs for our Head Start preschoolers.

 

 

Morning

When the kids arrive on the second day, we start the day by going exploring! For this activity, we break into small groups and head out into the woods. Everyone carries a metal bucket with them to collect their treasures from the trails and fields. We quickly amass a number of pine cones, leaves, sticks, hickory nuts, acorns, and rocks. We sometimes collect more rare treasures like quince, vibrant magnolia seeds, and beaver chewing. After about forty-five minutes of exploration, we head back to the pavilion to start our nature art.

Here at the paper-covered picnic tables, we give the kids paint, but no paint brushes. They must use what they found out in the woods to stamp, paint, and generally decorate the paper. Soon enough, it is time to get washed up and ready for lunch.

 

Afternoon

After lunch in the pavilion and some time for free play, we gather again for a story. This time, we read Ready for an Egg Hunt (read it here). This wonderful story leads into our egg hunt activity, during which the kids scour the farm for plastic eggs filled with chicken food. When we’ve found them all, we head to the chicken pen and feed the hens our treats. 

 

After the chickens are done eating, we head over to the hay playground to romp in the hay and swing from ropes. This is certainly a favorite spot on the farm! Finally, we end our day with a wagon ride around the farm before boarding the bus and heading back to school. We then say our goodbyes and look forward to seeing everyone at their classrooms this winter!

Posted in Head Start, Stoney Lick Farm