Summer Days at Red Gate Farm

Farmyard Tails: Lazy, Crazy Days of Summer
By Jennifer Bennett, HF Contributing Writer

Photo submitted by Jennifer Bennett

Ah, the lazy days of summer… WHAT? Did I miss the boat on that one? Summer seems to be the busiest time of the year. Here in the hilltowns at Red Gate Farm, we have so much going on. Are gardens are in full swing, which means lots of weeding, harvesting, canning and cooking.  Our animals are out on the pasture so, while we get a break from throwing hay bales, we pick up extra hours moving fencing and animals, not to mention gathering up escaped animals once in a while. All this, and all of our camps, field trips, and events keep us going all summer long.

The amazing amount of rain that we have seen this summer has failed to dampen the spirits of any of our campers, farmers, or animals. Our garden seems to have pulled through the soggy days, and we have already harvested many meals from the ground. Oh sure, we’ve had our challenges, but what year doesn’t? That’s the beauty of farming – there is never a dull moment!

Photo submitted by Jennifer Bennett

Photo submitted by Jennifer Bennett

Our summer camps were a blast this year. All of our weeks were either filled or just about filled to capacity. We had a great time with all of our ‘young farmers’. We learned about the honeybees, trained oxen, harvested from the garden, tended to all of the animals, and explored the woods and pond. It amazes me how patient our oxen are with the young teamsters, and how brave the kids are when working with the oxen who outweigh them by about 2,000 lbs!

This summer we added a new event to every week of camp. The young farmers hosted a “Family Picnic” every Friday afternoon. They worked hard all day to harvest vegetables and herbs from the garden for the meal that they would prepare. Our menu changed week to week, but some popular dishes were Quiche with Swiss Chard, Onions, and Parsley, Roasted Roots, and Honey Cake (from our bees on the farm!). The kids served their families the light meal and then took them on guided tours all around the farm and into the woods.

A highlight for me this summer was sharing the farm a group of kids visiting from Springfield, MA. Many of the kids haven’t had any experience with farms. We met the animals, harvested garlic, and nibbled in the garden. We nibbled on the last of the Sugar Snap Peas. Most of the kids had never eaten one before. The peas got mixed reviews, but every kid tried at least a bite. As we were nibbling, I thought to myself, ‘this is the life, being able to grow and share something so precious as fresh, good food with people who I like’.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Bennett

Jennifer BennettJen is the Program Coordinator at Red Gate Farm in Buckland, MA. She lives in the woods with her husband, two teenage daughters, a trusty dog and a frisky cat. A gardener for much of her life, Jen enjoys cooking with her harvest, canning and preserving foods. She sees nature as her home and can be found outside during all manner of weather. A graduate of Goddard College (BA with an emphasis in Ecological Education), she is at her happiest when she is able to share her love of farming and nature with children and adults alike. Her column, Farmyard Tails, shares events and explorations that happen on the farm while educating children about farm life.

1 Comment

  1. August 12, 2009 at 10:26 am

    As I look forward to fall, I get very excited about all the new things coming our way. We’ll be starting an adult & child program for the little ones called Mornings on the Farm. This will be a short program that runs every Tuesday in four week sessions. Everyday will consist of a story, an animal, and a hands-on activity. It is a great way to introduce the little ones to the farm, while meeting new friends.

    And, of course, what would the farm be without a GIANT NEST! That’s right! Get ready for the excitement. Join us as we build a giant bird nest together. Local sculptor, Joe Landry, will help us construct and weave a GIANT bird nest at the edge of a meadow. This nest (with a diameter of 12 feet!) will serve as a place on the farm to gather and learn about our wild community that is an integral part of life at Red Gate Farm. Join us on October 3rd at 1pm for a chance be a part of the weaving excitement.

    I hope that you have a great rest of your summer, and that I see you all this fall!

    All The Best,
    Jen Bennett

    Mornings on the Farm – NEW!
    Tuesdays, September 22nd – October 13th & October 27 – November 17
    10:00am – 11:30am
    Come to the farm and see all of the seasonal changes that are taking place. Will the sheep be hunkered down in the barn, or will they be enjoying the foliage near their pasture? When will our youngest chickens lay their first eggs? How thick will the oxen’s winter coat become? What yummy treats await us in the fall garden? And how, exactly, do you put a garden to bed? Join us as we spend four fun filled mornings together exploring the answers to these questions, participate in fun, hands-on activities, and meet the animals!
    If you are an inquisitive youngster between the ages of 0 to 4 years old, grab your favorite adult and come on down to Red Gate Farm! The program runs every Tuesday morning through the fall. Sign up for either (or both) of our four week sessions this fall.
    Ages 0 – 4, with accompanying adult
    Please call the Farm Office to register.
    Register for a four week session • $20/adult, $10/child, babies under 6 months are free
    Red Gate Farm Office (413) 625-9503

    Farm Leaders – Fall Session
    Wednesdays, September 9th – December 16th
    9:00am – 3:00pm
    A farm & nature program for older students.
    Students will develop important skills while working on meaningful projects. Each project will have a tangible, measurable result that will honor every student’s work and effort. As the spring comes alive on the farm, so will our voices. This session we will have a special unit on storytelling, culminating with a storyteller’s fair hosted by the students. Learning is fun, exciting and full of new discoveries.
    Ages 10 – 15
    Please call the Farm Office to register.
    Register for all 14 weeks • $600 per student
    Red Gate Farm Office (413) 625-9503

    Farm Sprouts – Fall Session
    Mondays, September 14th – December 14th
    9:00am – 3:00pm
    With a focus on earth awareness, social skills and creativity, we will encourage appreciation of the natural world and our community. Children’s learning is guided through play, story, the arts and hands-on nature adventures. Through our explorations of farm and forest we will seek to stimulate children’s innate curiosity and sense of wonder. Join us as we discover the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.
    Ages 4 – 6
    Please call the Farm Office to register.
    Register for all 12 weeks • $520 per student
    Red Gate Farm Office (413) 625-9503

    Young Farmers
    Saturdays, beginning September 19th, 3:30pm – 4:30pm
    Children are invited to come help the farmer with taking care of the afternoon chores. Come feed the animals, check for eggs and do other daily chores that make life on the farm so interesting. Parents and younger siblings are always welcome.
    All ages welcome.
    No registration necessary. Please call the Farm Office for more information.
    Free for all.
    Red Gate Farm Office (413) 625-9503

    Moonlight Hikes
    Thursday, September 3rd, 7:30pm – 8:30pm
    Thursday, October 1st, 7:30pm – 8:30pm
    Tuesday, November 3rd, 7:30pm – 8:30pm
    Thursday, December 3rd, 7:00pm – 8:00pm
    Come for a prowl in our moonlit woods and fields! The moon will light our way as we discover twilight and night time in the outdoors. We will listen for owls and other wildlife and use our senses to explore the natural world at this special time. Young children are welcome, but should be accompanied by an adult.
    All ages welcome.
    Please call the Farm Office for hike confirmation.
    Free for all.
    Red Gate Farm Office (413) 625-9503


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