Learning Life Skills at the Farm

This past week, the good folks of Laurel Hall came up with three of their Life Skills Classes. The Laurel Hall School, a part of Brooklane, is for special needs students in the Frederick and Hagerstown areas. The school in Frederick had reached out to us to explore the possibility of having their Life Skills classes out to the farm to do service projects. Of course, we were delighted to start up this partnership this week. The students helped with projects such as laying out new stone dust in our horse paddock to cover up a new drainage pipe, sanding our seesaw board, and stacking hay in our horse barns. All of this, of course, takes both hard work and some problem-solving skills.

When putting out the stone dust, they had to figure out how to fashion ramps for the wheelbarrows to get up and down curbs, how to use teamwork to balance the wheelbarrows, how to best use the rakes and shovels to make a smooth finish, and more. When sanding our seesaw board, they experimented with which grit of sandpaper worked best and how to hold the sanding block to get into narrower spaces. Another day, when a group was stacking hay for us, they had to figure out how to fit it all into a small space and how to best stack it without letting the hay topple – one student compared it to playing Tetris. Another student, who lifts weights regularly in pursuit of his dream to be a Strongman, easily carried a haybale in each hand and hoisted them up to the rafters of the hayshed. 

Each class also enjoyed their lunch in our warm homestead house after a morning of work. In the afternoon, we made sure to take time to simply enjoy the farm – no work involved. This meant petting our chickens, visiting with the cows, and loving our horses and goats. The last class to come out also found time to explore the property. We wanted to be sure these students were not just out here to work – they were also on the farm to enjoy our fresh air and animals.

We knew the week went well from our end of things, but nothing beats receiving this email from the Transition Coordinator at the end of the week:

Thank you all so much for giving our students the chance to visit Thorpewood!!! All of our students and staff had the best time, and they’ve been talking about it non-stop since. I was excited and impressed to hear how well everybody did! I can’t express enough how thankful we all are for getting the opportunity. I hope we can do it all again soon!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU ALL SO VERY VERY MUCH!!!