Today I took the dayhome kids on an outing to a small heritage farm, because we’ve only got a few more days of the freedom to pile in the van & leave whenever we like – once summer vacation starts, we’ll only be able to do that if I happen to be down a kid. We had a good time. Taking little city kids to a farm is one of the great joys of my life as a mother and a caregiver. I grew up in a very rural area. Most of my neighbours had livestock (oxen and horses, primarily). I once helped a friend’s family butcher their chickens as a fun sleepover activity. My grandparents had a massive vegetable garden. I would love that life, but it’s not practical for a whole host of reasons… so instead I take the kids in my care to experience it whenever I can.
It’s the best. On a farm, even a tiny little heritage one, I am the expert. I can answer all of their questions. I seem like the fount of all wisdom. They are in awe of my total lack of fear around animals. It’s pretty easy to get puffed up when you have a whole bunch of children (mine, plus assorted random stranger-children who tend to latch on to me because I’m explaining things) hanging on your every word.
We wandered through the vegetable garden and I identified plants for them. “This one is spinach,” I said. “REAL SPINACH???” asked Louis, in tones of surprise. “And these big leafy ones here, these are rhubarb. I use them to make pie, or rhubarb-apple crisp.” “We gon’ make pie ta-DAY?” asked Daisy, eyes like saucers.
We visited the sheepfold, and admired the twin black lambs, singing Baa Baa Black Sheep. I got them to be quiet so they could hear the crunching & ripping sounds as the sheep grazed. Charlie kept pointing and yelling “Hannie! Hannie SHEEPS! Sheeps EATIN’, Hannie! Eatin’ ‘NACK!” The older kids wanted to know if the sheep were boys or girls. I explained what to look for and how you could tell.
In the barn we met a pair of very young calves; they were clearly weaning, as they couldn’t stop frantically licking my arms as I was scratching their heads. “That cow is licking you. All over. Mom. MOMMY. Ew. EWWWWWW!” I explained that a calf licking you just feels a bit like wet sandpaper. “What’s sandpaper?” asked Louis.
They met a small flock of chickens, presided over by a massive rooster. Louis noticed that the coop had no roof, and was very concerned. “What if they fly out?” he asked, frowning. I explained that chickens can’t really fly; that they are too heavy and their wings too short. A costumed interpreter was wandering by and overheard. “You really know your chickens,” he said. “I have to explain to people all the time that the chickens can’t fly.”
For snack we had huge homemade biscuits, slathered in homemade strawberry jam and real whipped cream. We went around to see all the animals one more time and then headed home.
We had lunch and the nappers went right to sleep. I spent quiet time working on the deck in the sunshine while Louis and George played in the yard.
It was a good day.