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

At the Farm with ‘Living Through Loss’

Earlier this month, we were delighted to host a most wonderful group, Living Through Loss, at the farm. These parents, who have all lost a child, were in need of some restorative time in nature. With this in mind, we designed a special day at the farm for these folks.

After everyone had a light breakfast in the pavilion, we headed out into the woods to do some forest bathing. Forest bathing is the practice of using all one’s senses to take in the forest. As we began this meditative experience, I asked everyone to be silent and to listen to the world around us. Just as we took our first steps down the trail, Hope the Cow mooed peacefully in the field below us. The ladies all agreed – she knew we were listening and took her chance to be heard! A little ways down the trail, we sat in attentive silence on the rocky outcropping overlooking the cow field. Here we took time to listen to sounds close to us and far away, look out across the farm and down at the moss beside us, and notice the wind in the trees far above us and the breeze on our faces. On the slow walk back, we drifted from side to side of the trail, touching the bordering trees, allowing them to guide us back down to where we started.

Next, we began our Equine Assisted Learning program. For a bit more information on EAL, visit our page here. During the two hour long experience, our horses Snuder and Vinur partnered beautifully with their human participants. The amount of trust and communication between everyone was simply beautiful. One woman wrote us afterward to say that this was the first time in 20 years that she forgot about everything else in her life, let go of her insecurities, and could just be present. 

By the end of the day, we were all struck with the feeling that this had been a special day for all. We hope to do more with these folks in the future!

Posted in EAL, Stoney Lick Farm

Storytime: Hank’s Big Day

This month, for our Third Thursdays at ThorpeWood storytime, we read Hank’s Big Day: The Story of a Bug. For a couple of reasons, this was not your ordinary sit-down-and-be-quiet storytime.

First, this was a StoryPath generously created for us by the lovely ladies of the Thurmont Regional Library! For those who don’t know, a StoryPath is when pages of a book are placed on yard signs and spaced out along a trail. For us, this meant our storytime took place along a simply stunning, meandering path through our arboretum.

Second, we kicked up the action by doing some storybook yoga! This meant that for each action of Hank the bug, or that of the characters surrounding him, we got into a yoga pose. Telling the story through these movements and poses really changed how the kids experienced Hank’s journey. 

I was particularly delighted to see how much the kids enjoyed being in the ‘rock pose’ whenever Hank’s house (a rock) appeared in the story. The quiet and relaxed nature of this pose hopefully will be reused by these children when they find themselves in need of a deep breath.

Finally, this was not your typical storytime as the event ended with a bug hunt! Naturally, this was a cruelty-free type of hunting, in which we investigated the tree nooks and rock wall crannies to find little insects and spiders. The delighted shrieks of the kids could be heard from across the farm as we found more and more fun creatures.

In the end, our group of families relaxed in our farm pavilion, overlooking the horses as they grazed in the field across the way. We hope to see them all again next month!

Posted in Stoney Lick Farm, Third Thursday Storytime

Teacher Spotlights!

Since we are unable to be face-to-face with our Head Start preschoolers during this time, we have been relying heavily on their teachers to be our proxies. Each and every teacher has made room in their weekly schedule to share our farm mail and farm trunks with the kids. We are so grateful for the time and energy these teachers give our distance learning initiatives.

A few teachers have gone above and beyond by offering us feedback and regularly sharing photos and videos of the kids interacting with our farm mail and farm trunks. Without these dedicated educators, we would have no clue how our farm trunks are being received by the classes. We are so thankful for each of these amazing teachers! To offer a small thank you to these ladies, we have collected some kind words from their coworkers and students. Read each teacher’s spotlight below :)

Amalia Mera-Gallo

“I would have to say that Mrs. Amalia is an excellent teacher! She really cares about the children and families she has. She communicates with her families and works with them to make sure the children in her class are learning to the best of their abilities. She makes sure the children are engaged in learning and enjoy being in school.” – Corrie, teacher

“Loving bilingual teacher, dedicated to providing a safe and healthy environment, gets along with everyone” -Nina, family engagement coordinator

Susan Stevens

One of our newest staff, builds great relationships with children and families, easy to get along with, very positive” -Nina, family engagement coordinator

I would just like to say working with Susan has truly been a blessing. I have showed her everything I know and she has taught me some things as well. She really has a big heart and you can tell through her work and the love she has for these kids. I am truly glad to be a part of her team. She’s truly amazing.” -Miss Kristen, classroom aide

From her students:

“She takes care of us”

“She doesn’t make us go outside by ourselves”

“She lets us play outside”

“Because we switch names”

“She’s the best teacher”

“She gives us special treats”

“Because her hair looks good”

“She’s an awesome teacher”

“She rocks”

“She lets us paint”

Joy McFarlane

Easily implements routines and schedules to include all children’s needs, very knowledgeable about Head Start, good mentor and support to other staff” -Nina, family engagement coordinator

It’s a pleasure working side by side with Ms. Joy. Her years of experience make her the right person to go to when you need support and ideas; She is always happy to help. Her students and families love her, she makes such a big difference in her students’ lives. She has many ways to teach, she creates an environment rich of knowledge and experiences for the children. Her class is always full of laughter and happiness and I’m glad to be part of it.”  -Scherri, teacher

Kim Petty

“Very resourceful, warm and caring, great relationship builder, enjoys taking learning outdoors” -Nina, family engagement coordinator

Miss Kim is a wonderful teacher!  She loves the students and is always providing the best of care for each one of them.  Miss Kim makes learning fun through music and songs and a lot of thoughtful activities.  She knows all of the families and works with them to provide the best care for them and the students.”  -Mary, classroom aide

She cares about her students a lot and has great relationships with their parents.” -Cassie, Teacher

From her students:

I love her!” – Shoshana

I like her because she’s nice.” -Max

It’s because she always be nice to all of us.” -Elise

I love her!” -Mia

Cassie Degener

Very positive, supportive, warm caring environment” -Nina, family engagement coordinator

From her students:

She’s nice”

“Her nice”

“She lets me swing”

“She is happy. I love Ms. Cassie”

“She’s Awesome”

“Being the best runner”

“She does everything I told her to do”

“Because she can sit next to me”

“She’s nice”

“She has friends”

“She makes surprises for us”

Posted in Head Start

More Distance Learning Videos

As most of our usual groups still aren’t able to come to the farm due to Covid, we continue to make distance learning videos to bring the farm to their classrooms. Previously, these videos were exclusively made with our Head Start preschoolers in mind, but these days we have expanded to making videos for older students. The environmental science departments at various FCPS schools, for example, have made special requests for videos about various aspects of our property. Take a look at some of our latest videos!

ThorpeWood’s Arboretum

Come visit the Valhalla Arboretum at ThorpeWood! This forty-acre arboretum has so many amazing trees – and one little arboretum gnome. Can you spot her?

ThorpeWood’s Lodge

The ThorpeWood lodge has a green design with many features of note. Come along as I show you a handful of these environmentally friendly design choices.

Taking Care of Animals

Our Head Start preschoolers were on their ‘pets’ unit, so I head around the farm, showing the kids what it takes to take care of our pets, the farm animals!

Farm Tour

For those who haven’t been to the farm (or you just want to visit again!), here’s a really cool choose-your-own-adventure farm tour! Check it out!Snow Day!

It’s a winter wonderland! Come see what the farm looks like under 11″ of snow…and see what the animals think of this winter weather!

 

 

Posted in Activities for You, Head Start, Stoney Lick Farm

Farm Trunks Update

Our farm trunks have been circulating in the Frederick County Head Start classrooms for seven weeks now, and the consensus is clear: everyone LOVES the farm trunks! Each week, we are inundated with photos and feedback from the teachers. We love to hear which trunks are early favorites (and which trunks aren’t quite so great – looking at you, bird trunk!). Of course, direct quotes from the teachers and photos of the kids are the best way of showing just how beloved our trunks are. So, here you go!

Teacher Quotes

The kids are loving the trunks. There is something magical about them. -Miss Kim

The children really love the fishing game in the pond trunk! I think this one, the bug trunk, and the tent trunk have been their favorites. Thank you! -Miss Susan

“What a wonderful and oh so creative idea! Love you all for thinking outside the box and bringing nature into our classrooms.” -Miss Nina

My kids have loved the farm trunk. We went on a rock hunt and collected rocks. We sorted our rocks from small to big, smooth to rough and colors. They also built something…I don’t know what it was but it looked cool. Thanks for this awesome project.” -Miss Cassie

“I can’t wait to get my next trunk! Ladies, my class previewed the pond trunk a while back and the kids loved it. I introduced the materials and then we put it in the science center.  I’m excited to see what is in the other trunks.” -Miss Kim

The kids loved the cooking supplies. They had a blast collecting dirt, sand, and dandelions to make soup, stew, and other edibles. -Miss Kim

“Farm Trunks are very cool and the children love them :) Thanks for bringing them to us!!” -Miss Susan

Trunk Photos

 

Posted in Farm Mail, Head Start

Storytime: Charlotte and the Rock

This month, for our Third Thursdays at ThorpeWood Storytime, we read the terrific Charlotte and the Rock, by Stephen Martin. This is a simply adorable story of a little girl and her pet rock. The love and friendship between these two characters is evident on every page. We hope our young listeners took to heart how you can care for the inanimate aspects of nature. 

After the story, we went on a rock hunt to find our own pet rocks. There was much bustle about the farm as the children ran down our pine trails, finding the perfect rock to be their friend. After everyone had a rock in hand, we returned to the pavilion to decorate our rocks. Everyone made beautiful pet rocks, gave them names, and talked about where their pet rock would live. 

Finally, while the pet rocks dried in the warm spring air, everyone had a blast playing with the haybales that had been our storytime seating. All the kids rearranged the hay into new patterns, climbed up and down the bales, and generally had some good old farm fun. Until next time!

Posted in Third Thursday Storytime