What an exceptionally busy day we had with twelve farm-loving children taking part in this colourful program.
On arrival the children were eager to see the animals. A large green sliding door was opened to reveal the activity room, inside a nature table, mosaics still to be completed, a rooster and hen scratching here and there, then in clear view, the children saw the sheep and goats looking cosy and warm in their straw laden beds, oohs and ahs were heard. The children wanted to get closer.
Knowing it is breakfast time at the farm Annie, a regular ‘We Love Animals’ member, quickly and confidently helped the children make meals for our pleading four- legged friends. This is always a highlight for the children as they go from room to room, sheep to sheep, distributing the morning’s offerings. This was the first time some of the children had been this close to a sheep or goat. While feeding the animals I asked “Who can tell me something important about farm animals”, hands went up quickly. “We must be quiet, so we don’t scare the animals” one boy said. Then I asked the children, “Do sheep have friends?” silence, then Annie comments, yes they do. Questions and answers fly to and fro. The children love to show their knowledge. Once all the animals were fed, cuddled and let outside, we had time to fill the children’s grumbling tummies. A platter of sliced fruit was devoured before we headed off on a nature walk.
Clare, our artist and naturalist, headed the group, but once we reached the paddocks the children were off. Running freely, warming their bodies, an excited buzz could be heard from afar. Then up the hillside we went, this slowed the children down a little, before we entered the bushland, a land of discovery, full of treasures, and a never-ending world of possibilities. Clare gathered the children together, stopping to talk about the sundews, the children squatted down to get a closer view; their interest was pure and genuine. Then off we trekked, a possum’s nest here, a moss-covered fallen tree trunk there, ferns, the entrance to a wombat’s home, deep orange fairy toadstools, we halted for a moment. “Look, Grace found an echidna’s skull” said one child, pure excitement. “Great for our nature table” another child commented. We moved on, a new track, voices echoing...........
Home at last. Yum, it was lunch time. Sitting together we shared hot pumpkin soup, soft damper bread, cheeses, dips, a platter of fresh greens from the vegie garden and a variety of accompaniments. The room was quiet, the children were busy.
Rejuvenated the children helped clear the table ready for an afternoon’s creativity. To get the ball rolling, Clare showed the children the fundamentals of Tie Dyeing, starting with bunting triangles. The bottles of coloured dyes moved swiftly around the table as splashes of colour found their way in the crevices of tightly bound fabric. Now for the T shirts! More precision emerged as these experienced hands wound and wrapped, creating new patterns for the dyes to find. Once completed all the items were placed in plastic bags, then hung either out in the sun or beside our glowing heater until the dyes did their magic Personalized T-shirts.
The room was like an electric current, a whirlwind of business, hands moving as quickly as they could, unwinding the tightly bound elastic bands and twine. Then as they washed off the excess dye the children’s hearts were pounding, not sure what the end result would reveal. And what did we find? A room full of rainbow coloured T shirts and bunting all to die for. The compliments came fast and furious; the children were thrilled, ecstatic. We were thrilled for them.
Nearly a week later I ran into one of the children, she has been wearing her T-shirt every day since she made it. I love it!!
Sometimes the animals get a little forgotten in the excitement of making something special but now and then I look across to see a child gently giving Jazz a carrot and pat or Melone snuggled up beside a child looking at their striking T shirt, or a group of children sitting on the elaborate seat in the children’s garden. Bliss, pure bliss. What joy to see, children learning, being creative and most of all, having fun together in the most supportive way possible.
Well done kids and a great big thank you to Val who keeps us nourished and she always remembers to keep the kettle boiling. Also thank you to Clare for her ongoing creativity and ever-growing knowledge of our precious bushland and thank you to Jocelyn, Rosa and Tuilyn for helping on the day. All in all a total success I would say.
Comments The following is a comment that was sent from a parent of one of the children who attended the Make a Tie Dyed T-Shirt Activity.
“Larissa had a wonderful day with making the teeshirts and the activities for the day. Could you please keep me informed when you are having another day like that in the school holidays, Thanks Sandy.”
Making a Wooden Stool
I know Gill is never far away. She probably gets out her magic wand every time we hold a program whizzing it around here and there to ensure the weather is kind to us. How lucky we were on Wednesday as our plan was to make country stools for Gillian’s Rainbow Bridge. A cold, slightly misty morning started the day, but after all it is winter, the best time of the year.
Many of the children visiting us hadn’t been to our farm before so standing in a circle introducing ourselves was a good start. I can rely on the children who frequent our Wednesday group, ‘We Love Animals’ to help new comers feel welcome and comfortable.
It doesn’t take long for friendships to blossom.
The animals that spend each night in our sheep shed are a lazy lot in winter, not venturing out until a decent breakfast has passed their way!! This is a wonderful opportunity for the children to get close to the animals, feeding then a mixture of sheep cubes, Completo and Gumnuts - worth waiting for. Mary and Beatrice-two of our elderly sheepy ladies love a cuddle and don’t mind the intrusion of separating their fleece so children can see the soft underneath. Children are eager to learn. This is also a time when we talk about being safe, thoughtful farmers. Remembering to close gates, check water, make sure that rugs are not only keeping our animals dry but are comfortable too. Winter is harsh and it is paramount we take care of our animals through these cold, bare times. Closing gates is imperative to animal safety and something the children need to understand before we head off on our nature walk starting in the paddocks.
This Wednesday Dan, our creative carpenter, had us organised and ready for a trudge across the paddocks. It is rather wet in some places. We were looking for suitable tea tree branches for the legs of our stools. Finding other nature riches is a focal point for some children. A collection of mosses, a sheltered hideaway for a deer perhaps, or sighting a pair of robin red breasts... What a find. Walking through the bush enabled us to chat about lots of things, find likeminded friends and simply enjoy the moment. The children take it all in.
Finally we found the perfect branches, making sure we didn’t abuse the tea tree or surroundings as we carefully sawed and sawed. It was beautiful to see the older children helping the younger ones and teams forming so each child could have a go. Once enough timber was collected it didn’t take long to carry the load back to the lawn just outside the activity room. Time for a rest. Time for lunch.
Homemade soup, soft damper rolls, wraps, cheeses, hot corn pieces, salad vegies and more filled the empty tummies. Manners and thinking of others is something we aimed for as we shared this banquet. Each family brought along something special to contribute to our luncheon giving the children variety. I noticed a large bag of carrots being proudly presented earlier in the day, but later found them being cut up for the horses. After all, Jazz, Olly, Sienna and Zephyr, our horses, love a midday snack too. Don’t you love it?
Bodies were replenished and minds eager for the next task. Sawing the stool legs, nailing the tops and finding enough buckets took some time. Mixing the cement and gravel was lots of fun, using muscles the children never knew they had as this heavy mix was turned and turned to create a perfect consistency. Children were everywhere, a hive of productivity, busy, working diligently before the stool bases could be poured.
“Is everyone ready?” Dan asked. “Now we need a line of children with their buckets and stool legs ready for completion.” Three choices of coloured cement for the children to choose from then a top up of basic cement mix, lastly the legs were added and we were nearly there. Some children put fancy designs on the bottom of their buckets- a surprise to find later.
Unfortunately the cement needed to set, about two days at the least. Not to worry the children had had a fun day and many stayed on for the night time feed. This time the animals come inside, meals made then strategically placed before each group of sheep can enter. Isaac and Luke, members of our “We Love Animals” group confidently helped with our precise schedule. Our farm animals enjoy routine. I was proud to see these capable young people confidently help and show the visiting children the ropes.
Friday was the day of reckoning as Dan removed each stool from its hiding place. Some children wanted a natural look others a polished feel. Again Dan was kept busy. Like the T shirts the children fell in love with the end result, proud of their practical, useful, creation. We were hoping we might end up with a few stools for visiting children but we are thrilled all the children took their prized stools home.
Well done kids and a huge thank you to Val as she makes sure we are looked after throughout the day. Dan we thank you for the adventure and for the opportunity to build a cement topped stool. Such great fun. And lastly thank you to Tuilyn and Angela for helping to make the day a complete success.
To check out more images of the 2016 Winter School Holiday Programs, pleaseCLICK HERE