Welcome ...
This blog has been created to allow family and friends to share in and become part of the experience of 'Down at the Farm'.
Enjoy the children, their love for each other and their open hearted wonder and excitement.
Over time you will get to know the farm through their eyes and will see how they spend their day with each other in a very rich, organic way.
Each vignette is a snapshot in time. Follow from one to another, then on to more and you can share in our unfoldment and journey.
Enjoy your visit ...

Friday, February 26, 2010

This way or that way ..

Often people ask how, with such young children, do we work out how to do the day as they want and get things to work. From Dakota, Milana, Ava and Farrah, I have a most perfect example of one way it happens to share with you...

After greeting in the morning and guinea pig cuddles, the girls were all close to each other and me, bouncing on the inside in anticipation of what next.  I looked down at their little faces and asked, 'Where do you want to go now?'  They looked round at each other and out through the barn door and back towards the farm entry, up into the sky and every which way they could as children do.  Ava piped up as she did a little skip and pointed, 'This way.'  Finger towards the garden path  and stables ...

She instantly got a joyful chorus from all, 'Y-ee-ss!'  and off we went following Ava to 'This way' and where-ever that may lead.

Further along, 'This way' became 'That way' from someone else and as simply as that we created our day, following 'This way' and 'That way', until our time had run up.

Along the way were some moments of the exquisite beauty I had the privilege to witness.

At one point, we came across the horse trough full of cool clear water, much to the delight of all the girls.  Of course we splashed and played and got wet and at one point with lots of laughter and fun happening, Dakota asked, 'What's that sound?', with her little face close to the water and peering in and her little ear cocked as she tried to listen and look to see at the same time.  In reply, she got lots of little answers, 'A fish' from Farrah, 'Don't know' from Ava and 'Milana speak' from Milana that I don't think any of us understood, though we knew she was enthusiastice and part of it all with us which is what really mattered. 

I tuned in to hear the noise as Dakota said, 'It's a guinea pig' at which point I heard what it was she was listening too.  I asked, 'Can you hear that song Dakota, just like a guinea pig?' and she looked at me with a big, 'Yes' lifting her head from peering into the water with the children while still in search of who was singing.

Farrah again said, 'It's a fish' as she looked intently into the water pointing to find the culprit.

Four little faces, close to each other, peering into the water, listening, looking and wondering...

So what was it?

A cricket!

... ... in the green grass by our feet.  We couldn't see it at all, though heard it's little song which sounded as happy as the girls were.

... ... and their could not have been a more perfect 'sign post' in our little world than the one Dakota gave us all... ...'It's a guinea pig', for sure enough it's chirr-up and song sounded very much like the guinea pigs do when they are happy too.

A while later as we came over the top of the 'rolling hill', the embankment down to the river that the children love rolling on, (hence the name rolling hill), Dakota called back to me in delight, 'Ducks' and as the girls all ran towards her, I looked down to see 15 ducks in total all floating on the still river as if asleep.  It was quite mesmerising to watch and drew us all down to the fence line.

After some time just lolling in the stillness and beauty of this, Dakota turned to me and said, 'Danella, I want to make the whole farm beautiful.'  I just looked at her earnest little face and said, 'It's a big farm Dakota, do you think you can?'  To which she replied, 'Yes' and then set about very gently and intently choosing leaves and grass and showing me each one and it's unique beauty and then looking at the timber fence line and finding a crack or hole in which to place it.  Each leaf she savoured for it's colour or shape or pattern, and each placement was with great love and feeling for making the whole farm beautiful.

After perhaps fifteen minutes of this and  a stretch of fence no longer than 15 cms being done, she looked left and then right at her creation, smiled and said with total satisfaction, 'There'.

I knew then it was 'done' and beautiful it was.

Friday, February 19, 2010

End of an era ...

Well they say all good things come to an end ... ...

On thursday morning I walked up under the big Peppercorn tree, with Willow, Dakota, Milana, Ava and Winston. This wonderful tree has not only provided us with shade and solace ... ... it has also been 'home base' for endless adventure and fun.

What greeted me was a bit of a shock, gone was the old seed planter, which has most likely been there as long as the farm has and has been known to all, as our train/bus/car/tractor/spaceship/tram/boat/rocket and so much more for a very long time.

Secondly, laying on the ground near by in three pieces was the huge old cedar log that had been part of this landscape too. You can see both landmarks in the photo of Winston, just two weeks earlier ... ... he's on the seed planter with the big old log in the back ground.

I stood in dismay for a moment and then quickly rang Rob in the office to find out what had happened, partly so I could get over my shock and also to help me fill the children in as they noticed too what had happened.

I found out, the machinery had been deemed unsafe, not really a surprise and finally had to go. The good news, in it's place will eventually be an old tractor, stripped back and made safe to become part of the next part of the farms history.

The old log had began to badly split and needed to be taken care of. The good news is, it will stay there now in pieces and be a slightly changed part of the landscape and play for the children.

With the change in our landscape there will also be a change in our story lines, which you will see in photos and vignettes to come ... ... for those who've been part of the children's travels for some time, it's the end of an era ...

The 'make my day' quote of the week had to come from Dawn this week. As we crossed the back paddock after an early morning sojourn in the cool by the river, she turned to me as she strode along amongst her friends, Elodie, Daisy, Magnus and Jock and said, 'Ta-nell-err, I am so happy and so proud of my little gang!'
The slide show and first photo album with this entry really introduce Kari's group on wednesday. Enjoy their travels and fun!
Below that a sprinkle from the groups with me, where you'll see some regular faces and meet our newest little farmer Milana.

Farm 03.02.10k and 17.02.10k

farm 19.02.10

Friday, February 12, 2010

Expanding world views ...

As we wandered into the back paddock today, the weather sultry and the possiblity of rain in the air, a sound came into our play that Daisy instantly recognised as not part of it. 'Wass 'at?' she asked and the other children tuned in and listened.

'Thunder,' said Dawn and there were murmurs of agreement as we listened some more. The rumble continued and got steadily louder. The children still wondering, turned towards the sound as it got closer. Some looking up and some down as they followed their senses in the direction it came from.

All of a sudden the garden gate opened and out through the gate came a few of the farmers pulling two large wheelie bins each behind them. It was time set up for the farmers market in the moring and the echo of the empty bins over the earthy path had been the source of the 'thunder'.

Innocently the children watched and kept listening and as the bins were wheeled out onto the grassy field and the noise almost dropped away ... ... a few little faces looked up into the sky as if checking that the thunder hadn't just stopped for a moment.

Bit by bit the children realised that the farmers, their bins and 'thunder' had all been part of the one thing and we continued to play with this new awareness between us.

Daisy did not loose a moments focus in her endeavour to find out about the thunder. Her question, 'Wass 'at?' opened the door for that discovery for all.

Such a privilege to witness the awesome innocence of young children learning naturally, as they immerse themselves in play and life.

A while later, as we sat to picnic in the barn, Dawn with her feast layed out and surrounding her ... ... ... enjoying eating her nuts, looked up and said, 'Ta-nell-errr (I have as many names as children I spend time with), All ladies that work at childcare are vegetarian." I said, "Are they Dawn, are the ladies at your childcare vegetarian?" Her reply, "Yes, that means they don't eat meat." I added, "I know Dawn, I'm vegetarian too."
She took a moment to consider and then resumed, "Ta-nell-errr, All ladies at childcare and (with a little fumble about how to share her enlarged world view), and ladies....um lady, um one...um and lady that looks after children at the Childrens Farm are vegetarians", and smiled.

Not for a moment did she loose her focus on sharing her world view with me and the moment it expanded, she included this larger perspective with what she already knew and generously shared again.

Imagine a two year old standing alongside a goat. You get a close up view of their eyes, their ears, their horns, their face, what their mouth does when they chew, every little nuance. You can hug them pat them, look underneath and of course, see their tales and their bottoms.
George was really excited by the goats and showed no fear in being amongst them all and noticing every little thing he could. To his great delight, he got to see all things up close and when he'd noticed all he could about one goat he was watching, he turned round and was looking straight into the bottom of the next.

This goat obliged George's fascination by immediately, showing what happens at the other end and pooing at his feet. George, initially surprised, soon found it totally funny and made sure everyone got to see this fascinating thing that the goat he was with was doing.
Tail up, close range view of the droppings emerging, wide eyed wonder on all faces and then, as the penny dropped that all were watching a poo from the goat... ... ...lots of laughter and a bit of a wander amongst the goats to see if any other tails were up and bottoms pooing.
Nothing better than first hand experience to learn things naturally and find out more about the world you live in.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Speaking of animals that won't work ...

On thursday morning, Feb 4th, Bo came for a visit. Pint sized and full of personality, she was very keen to have a guinea pig until I almost placed one in her lap.

Munchy was a bit too big and wiggly so we negotiated to have her alongside Bo on the seat. I got down in front of them both and reassured her that Munchy wouldn't hurt and was very gentle and that you could feed her.

Well that was enough info for Bo, she was very happy to take a green bean and see if this little creature really would eat... ...which of course it did. For those of you that don't know, guinea pigs are like little chaff cutters, they just keep munching until their is nothing left and stop still when they've had enough.

Bo was delighted and began to talk with her new friend and check her out, a pat, noticing her little eyes and ears, her legs... ...more pats and lots of chatter and needing to know she was alright. Bo insisted in getting down to eye level to look into her little face to ask each question she did. 'Are you alright?' 'Do you want more?' 'What's your name?' ... ... with guinea pig squeaks for answers all along.

Once the Munchy had her fill of beans and wouldn't take another bite, Bo was very disappointed. 'It's not working, it's not working', she let us all know very clearly.

I explained to her that guinea pigs only eat until they are full and then they just to stop. This made no difference, Bo was disappointed that the best part of being with her new friend Muncy had stopped and let me know she could 'go back now'.

I picked up Munchy and put her back in the cage and as she settled in home under Bo's watchful eye, it dawned on Bo that her fun was over. The moment she realised, she looked straight at me with an indignant, 'Hey, give me back my monkey.'

The week we went from a swelter on wednesday, to a light drizzle and sultry morn on friday. Walking in the back paddock then, with not a soul insight for a good while in the rain with the children was a total delight. Their happiness was that fact that we could.

farm 03.02.10

Hot steamy and heaps of fun, so much love and friendship here

farm 04.02.10

Ava and Winston found each other great company and big strong Winston, found half bricks and huge sticks to carry and re-arrange and Ava was right their along side enjoying doing the same...talk about work hard!

farm 05.02.10

We all walked for miles, climbed, played and enjoyed the mild drizzly day. Dawn full of joy, Elodie enjoying her friendship with her. George taking in this amazing place he was at, Daisy in happy delight and Magnus his usual gorgeous self.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Our venue

The Collingwood Children's Farm in Melbourne, is the most amazing inner city playground. visit: http://www.farm.org.au/ . It is a working farm and sanctuary available to the whole community and our privilege to be able to meet their each week. This kind, nurturing place, full of wonder and the many moods of mother nature, sees as many different people as you'd imagine a city could hold. 

Bound by the Yarra river and the Abbotsford convent http://www.abbotsfordconvent.com.au/ there is immense beauty to behold in both the place and the nature of what it gives in great bounty to the community.

It is with respect, that I also acknowledge the Wurundjeri as traditional caretakers and custodians of the land this all now stands on. 

Aboriginal elder Bobby Randall 'Oursness', www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8zAh3irMYo