Inspired by a suggestion from Head Start staff, ThorpeWood held an open house for our Head Start ‘friends’ and their families. About a hundred and fifty people came to enjoy the beautiful sunshiny day at the farm. The beginning of the morning was dominated by visiting the barn. Outside the barn, the goats, Flint and Arrow, entertained all passers-by as they entered the barn. Inside, the horses, Snudder and Geysir, hung their heads over the stall door to sniff the little outstretched arms. Many remembered our ‘horseman’s handshake’ (offering the back of your hand for the horse to sniff), and even taught their younger siblings how to do it.
Across the aisle was our two-day old Holstein calf. With the stall wall lowered considerably, all of our preschoolers could reach over to pat her silky coat as she lay nestled in a bed of straw. In the aisle, our visitors wrote down name ideas for her. After a good bit of fraternizing with the animals, Sam summoned everyone into the riding ring, where hula hoops, cones, and pool noodles served as playthings for our ‘friends.’ Here, Sam introduced everyone to Stoney Lick Farm and transitioned us into the touring part of our day.
Three tour groups formed, led by Julie, Sam, and myself. My group walked around the horse pasture, down the pine trails, into the open field, down to the pond (where we discovered seven darling basset puppies), and back again through the arboretum. Before releasing them from my tour, we took a detour to the hay playground, where the children wildly climbed and jumped off our mounds of hay bales. All of this hopefully gave parents a good idea of the kinds of adventures their children have when they visit Stoney Lick Farm.
Upon returning, Scott had grilled hot dogs to accompany the copious amounts of food Joy had arranged at the pavilion. After lunch, this family picnic moved up the hill to the fire ring. Equipped with marshmallows and sticks, our ‘friends’ roasted marshmallows which Sam turned into s’mores. So, after meeting all our animals, hiking through the farm, and filling up on hot dogs and s’mores, the families boarded the buses for home.
For parents, this visit hopefully eased fears about their children’s field trips to the farm. For older siblings, this was a reunion with the farm and horses after their graduation from Head Start a few years ago. For our four year olds, this was just one visit among the dozen they will take this year, made special by being able to share the experience with family. And for our three year olds and younger siblings, this was their very first farm visit, a prelude of what is to come…