The day before the kids were to come out to the farm I had miraculously found two turtles on the country roads. Both were Red Sliders but one was almost a foot long and his back was humped up a good five inches. He was gorgeous! Beautiful, clear patterns of yellow and green across his back and that big red stripe from his eyes to the back of his head. All the kiddos loved watching and playing with/around him. The beauty of turtles is that you can catch them if they start to escape.
Maggie didn't enjoy holding them nearly as much as Zane and Brendan did, but she did like them a lot and liked watching them. Here she is, being courageous for the photo shoot. Way to 'Cowboy up', Maggie!
The whole point of Farm Camp (at least in my book) is for the kids to experience aspects of the farm and nature that they don't usually get to see when they are out here. We always travel to other people's farms to meet and greet their animals and play on their equipment. Each farm is completely different so no one place can have everything, contrary to what children's picture puzzles lead you to believe. (For additional pics and info on the camp go to Abbey's blog here.)
Last year we visited a farm with Alpacas, goats, guineas, chickens and a real Tipi and took a ride on a horse drawn wagon.
The year before that we visited a horse ranch and a farm with pigs, pygmy goats, white sheep and hundreds of chickens. The year before that we visited one with full sized goats and tried goat's milk ice cream. We almost always visit the Reisen Zoo, which is right down the road from us. The Zoo is heavy on fowl but also has interesting big-horned sheep, peacocks and donkeys. This year the big attraction was actually riding full sized horses.
My friend Cass has a ranch with many horses and a few cows and she agreed to our coming out for some rides. We were joined by the Lams from OKC, friends of Abbey's family, so for once Maggie had another girl to be with. Here the crew is riding on the back of a pick-up, heading out to feed the cows.
Cass taught them lots of things about how to act around horses, what to be careful about, how to brush them, how to sit in the saddle so you feel safe and comfortable and then she took each child on a long ride up a hill so they could see the land far out on either side. Things look much different when you are sitting high on the back of a moving horse.
Below, Everett and I are cooling off in the shade after our rides while Cass graciously serves cool drinks to all the little horse riders. We take riding horses for granted out here because this is cowboy country and my generation grew up watching westerns on TV, but stop and think for a moment about how huge a horse is in the eyes of a human child. These children did not grow up watching people ride horses so this is foreign to them. I think it was incredibly brave of them to climb up into that saddle and ride without a single complaint. Bravo and high fives all around and many, many thanks to Cass for all your time and your many kindnesses. They will remember this forever.