Summer is the glory time of a farm- and indeed the entire natural world. The nights are a buzz with insects, while the afternoons are a wash with heat: just perfect for having a dream in a hammock in the forest. We will follow the rhythms of the day, working and playing with the horses in the morning when it is still cool, eating a picnic lunch in the woods, then a game and some free time with the animals. Our afternoon activities will be as follows:
We will spend the morning befriending, grooming, and caring for the horses, and go for a mushroom hunt on horseback. In the afternoon we will gather in the barn, sip cups of hot chocolate, and peruse the mushroom table. We will make a spore print, and explore the questions: what is a mushroom? What is its role in the natural world? How is it helpful to humans?
Then we will look at what makes mushrooms different from each other. We will pass around our samples and look at gills and teeth, pores and veils, spores and mycelium. The goal is not to ID every 'shroom, but to kindle enthusiasm, interest and awareness, as well as talking about safety around edible and poisonous species.
We will spend the morning befriending, grooming, riding and caring for the horses and other animals. In the afternoon we will explore the world of plant healers, and ask and attempt to answer the following questions: What is medicine? Before we had pills and drugs, how did we heal ourselves? How do we know if a plant is safe? How do we harvest in a respectful way? Is it possible to have a relationship with a plant the same way we do a person or an animal?
We will go on a plant walk, meet a few new plant 'friends,' and then make our own lip balm with the healing properties of chickweed, wild mint and plantain infused in our oil, as well as the delicious benefits of CHOCOLATE!!
Winter is a magical time, with the horses dressed up in their winter fur coats and gathering frost around their whiskers.
We will balance our time between warm indoor space and the outdoors. Who knows... we might even get to warm up around a fire, and listen the the cackling hiss evergreens release when they are burned.
Why do some trees have leaves and some have needles? What do trees (and other living beings) gain by having a season of rest? Because it is the month of gift giving, each child will have the chance to create his or her own treasures to take home: We will gather some of our own materials to make into a wreath, and explore the wonderful aromatic possibilities of evergreens by making our own bath salts using conifer inspired essential oils.
How can we get sweetness from the wild? Where does Maple or Birch Syrup come from, and how is it made? In this camp we will spend the morning grooming, riding, and making friends with the horses, and the afternoon exploring the craft of making syrup from Birch Trees!
We will learn about the nature of sap, different tree species we can tap, and how to tap a tree. We will see if our sap buckets are empty or full and why that is, and experience what we have to do with the sap to make it into syrup and other treats. (If we don't have any of our own sap to boil we will make small treats of maple taffy on snow- yum!)
There will be lots of time to explore the farm, meet the other animals, and see if anything else is waking up as the natural world begins to thaw around us!
We will spend our time riding and being with the horses and other animals in the morning when we are all fresh and full of energy, and in the afternoon we will grow and explore our creativity through different projects. Each day we will create something beautiful to take home with materials inspired by the fields, forests and seasons of the farm. We will also work with recycled and repurposed items, imagining them into new and more beautiful creations!!
This year we will be working on one large project each day:
In early spring the natural world is waking around us with a force and energy that is palpable. One of the most potent medicines available to wildcraft at this time are Black Cottonwood buds, which can be made into a salve or oil known as Balm of Gilead. After riding and being with the horses in the morning, we will spend our afternoon mucking about in the woods looking for Cottonwood buds. (If spring is early and the leaves are out already, we can trust there has been some preserved for us in oil). We will make this oil into an easy to use balm that is great for relieving pain of all kinds, as well as rashes or any skin irritations. Plus, it smells wonderful!
Each child will go home with a jar of his or her very own balm, great for putting on bee stings, sunburnt lips, or skinned knees this coming summer.
In May all of the world is bursting into bloom. There is new life all around us from ducklings and chicks to calves in the fields and plants beginning to thrive in our gardens. We will spend our time with the horses in the morning when we are all fresh and full of energy, and in the afternoon we will join in the celebration by making our own delicious jelly from wildflowers! Similar to what faeries would spread on their toast, flower jelly is a delicate, delicious perfumy treat, and gathering the flowers we need to make it is a delicious sensory experience- one we can share with bees, butterflies and other pollinators, as well as the horses if they choose to join us in the fields. Each child will go home with a jar of their very own flower jelly to share with their family- and perhaps the faeries, if they wish.