Saturday, September 12, 2009

Field Trip - Chippokes Historic Farm and Plantation

On Thursday we packed the van and took off early for a field trip to Chippokes Historic Farm and Plantation. The morning was rainy.  The drops fell steadily the entire drive up to Surry, making me unsure of my choice for the day.  However, when we got there the rain had ceased falling making it the perfect day... the rains kept crowds away so the groups were small... perfect for our first exclusively homeschool field trip.

Chippokes Historic Farm and Plantation is the third oldest English settled plantation in the country and the oldest working farm in the nation.  It's tucked away off major roads, about an hour away from home, but well worth the drive.

Upon arrival we parked in a separate area down the road from the actual center.  Lining the gravel road were tractors of all kinds from all eras.  A tractor pulling a trailor awaited us for a ride to the center.  We rode down the gravel road, circled the old sawmill that is still in use, and then made our way to start our field trip. 
The theme of the day: Chores on the Farm a hundred years ago.  Kids had the opportunity to participate in the chores that kids were expected to do on the farm.  Our first in the rotation was caring for the animals.  Our group met over by the pen which included a donkey named Jack, several sheep, and goats with their kids.  The kids were able to stand on an elevated stand that allowed them the ability to see the animals and touch them over the split rail fence.  Chops and Monkey were right up front as they were the smallest in the group.  Chopsy asked a few questions regarding anatomy... embarrassing for momma... oh well... the gal must have known it was coming because she answered the question and kept rolling with the information. You gotta love my 2 year old.  Sheesh!

Station number two was hopping back onto the tractor and taking a riding tour of the grounds.  We rode up to see the mansion which included a separate building for the kitchen as was customary for that time.   We saw the barn and silo, a small vegetable garden with a fence made from long sticks and branches woven together.  Another farm house sat on the property along the banks of the river, while cattle grazed in a nearby field.  The tractor brought us back to the parking lot and ready for our third station. 

Caring for the chickens was our third session.  The guy who led this session was great.  He explained to the kids that he woke up and was at the farm at 4 am to feed the chickens and collect the eggs.  The boys both had an opportunity to feed the chickens, and then Monkey followed the teacher, Rudy, into the hen house to gather eggs with the rest of the kids.  All of the kids gathered eggs, placed them in a basket,  and then washed their eggs in soap and water.   Rudy talked about the differences of fresh eggs from a farm verses eggs from the grocery store.  Monkey loved it.

The bell rang signaling the change of session, and we were off to learn about kitchens 100 years ago.  We learned that ovens and stoves didn't have knobs, but the wood burning heated the top. The amount of heat you needed determined where you placed your pots or kettles on the stove.  We made butter from cream by turning a butter churn after seeing many other tools that were used in the kitchen in years past.  At the end of the entire day we tasted the butter that we made spread on saltines.  Yummy!

Monkey's favorite session was on Old Timey Games.  A park ranger explained that children not only had chores that they were required to do, but also had time to play.  Even back then parents knew that play was a part of learning.   She showed us games like marbles, cup and ball, a die made from horn, and also a game called graces.  She showed us an actual hornbook that was made from a horn and explained that it was passed down to younger children after the lessons were memorized. 
The students split up into groups of two and played graces after learning about it. We learned that it was improper for boys to play this game, but they were permitted to play if a girl was playing with them.  The object was to take your knitting needs, cross them inside your embroidery hoop, and then fling the hoop into the air.  Your partner's job was to catch the hoop with her needles.  Monkey partnered up with a really sweet girl, I would guess she was about 11 or 12 years old.  She was really good with him.  He had a blast. 

Lastly, Monkey ran his first relay race.  Dan, our instructor, mentioned it would not be uncommon for a child to fetch water from the well as soon as they were strong enough to carry a bucket.  So, the kids participated in a water relay, fetching water from one tub and pouring it into a bucket that sat in front of each team.  They ran the relay 3 times.   What fun!


And what day would be complete without a sweet treat from the Farm Store? 
We headed back to the van to eat our picnic lunch (thanks Daddy!) and had some time to run around, explore the machines, and just enjoy the day.  We can't wait to go back again to learn more! 
As we pulled away the rains came back.  We listened to our book on ipod.  Chopsy snoozed. And we headed back to our modern comforts of home. 

1 comment:

Heather said...

Looks great! I just love those sorts of trips b/c the kiddos really get to experience life-- you can read all you want to in books, but once they actually use the tools and cook in the kitchen and carry the water pail, they *get It.* Super fun!