Class groups are done for now

With the altered plan to be very hands on and low key on the history part with today’s 2nd graders, things went much smoother. I had inexpensive homemade spindles, tape bands, Lucet cordage, a small woven towel, and a small knit along with the flax and hemp fiber samples for them to pass around and handle. As they entered, I was spindle spinning and didn’t draw attention to it until I explained that by their age, they would have been contributing to the family thread and yarn production using a spindle, or making tapes on the box loom, or cordage on the Lucet. They tried to spin with the homemade spindles and were amazed that though it looked simple as I did it, they could not. I did demonstrate the Great Wheel, letting them touch the quill after a reminder of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. They were surprised that it wasn’t sharp enough to prick their finger. We had 40ish children, divided into 5 groups as today, we were fortunate to have volunteers to cover Colonial militia, and Slavery. With the museum video, the games and corn shelling, with me and very, very nice weather, it went as it was planned. It was fortunate that we had extra rotations and good weather, well behaved children, as I was operating on very little sleep.

Our last pup, the 12+ year old German Shepherd faltered last night, and passed away shortly after I went to bed, but before hubby came to bed. We discussed what we were going to do and as it was well after midnight, decided that she would just spend the night on her bed and we would load her into the car and be at the vet’s office as they opened at 7:30 this morning, to take her for cremation.

That put us in town much too early for me to make the 40 minute drive to the museum for the 10 o’clock school group, so I settled in my new favorite local bakery for a pastry and cup of coffee while hubby took the other car back home. Tonight, I will sleep well.

The Colonial outfit has been put away until needed for an event at the museum. The tools and wools I use there, reorganized in the basket with the tapes and cordage and it too has been put away until needed again. The top whorl spindle only gets used for demonstrations, at home I use my Jenkins Turkish spindles and my non historic Louet spinning wheel. June 1 there will be a living history day at the museum and I will likely spend at least part of the day spinning for visitors.

I do love the school groups, especially when they are engaged in the process. It is a great volunteer activity for me to use skills I have learned and to draw on my many years as an educator.

Planning and Preparation

This morning at 4:15 a.m., Son 1 and I headed down the mountain to meet the bus on campus that took him to the train and home to his apartment and job. The moon was so full and bright on my way home that I had to stop halfway down our long drive and get a photo as it was setting below the trees and ridge to the west.

Seldom am I up to see this.

When I was toasting his bagel to go with a previously boiled egg, and a cup of fresh coffee, the toaster that has been failing did. I tried to toast a slice of bread for me and one half of one side got slightly toasted. Out on errands later, a new toaster was purchased. The old one might have been more than a decade old. The new one isn’t fancy, a dial that will allow darker or lighter toast, a bagel button, and a cancel button. The display had ones that looked like they should have been able to make the bread and then toast it for all the settings.

Over the weekend, the idea lightbulb went off after having talked with my trainer last week about 2nd graders (her oldest is second grade), and she encouraged me to have lots of things they could touch. Back a number of years ago, when I did a couple of summer camps in the community, I started making simple spindles from a wooden wheel, a length of dowel, and a cup hook. They only cost about a dollar each to make, so we went to the local craft store today and purchased the supplies. There will be 8 spindles already started with a bit of wool on them to pass around for them to “try out,” a couple of small hand woven matts, the flax, hemp, and cotton fiber samples, a few of the box loom tapes as well. I will show them the lucet in use, and pass a length of the cord you make with it. And will be spinning on a drop spindle when they enter and while I introduce them to the house and life of the period. There are supposed to be about 60 children, so I hope we have more volunteers and more rotations of interest to them. The weather should be a good day.

The chicks still had not ventured out into the run. Every time one of them approached the pop door, a hen would run up and put them in their place. This afternoon, a long length of 3 foot high erosion fence was staked out around one side of the coop and I moved the chicks into the grass and sun. Their food and water placed in there with them. The hens are absolutely beside themselves that they can’t get to them. I did cover the top with another section of the plastic erosion fence to deter the hawk. Since I have made it a point to handle these chicks often as they have been growing, they don’t run squawking away when I approach them, so returning them to the coop later will be easy.

Tonight we have a near freezing night, then tomorrow it will be back up to 70 during the day and most nights will be near or above 50. The hanging porch plants can be taken back outside from their winter in the utility room and I will just have to keep an eye on the nighttime temps. The hummingbirds are back, though I have only seen a couple so far. They love the big pot of Columbine on the back deck and the feeder is up in the front. I love watching them flit around. One of the half barrels was planted with the hardy herbs that have been outdoors for several weeks now. They were in smaller pots that I couldn’t keep wet enough. The half barrel holds moisture better. The half barrel with strawberries is blooming, though I don’t think there will be more than a couple berries this year. I’m more interested in starting more of the runners, so an actual bed of them can be started.

It is delightful to have warmer weather, and lighter layers on when we go for our walks.

Nice Weather, More History

We have had a taste of summer this week until today. Warm nights, very warm days for walks, and if it rained, only late afternoon thunder storms. Today is cooler and we had rain.

Yesterday, we had 119 sixth graders at the museum, and we had 6 stations to rotate them through. Unfortunately, our 7th station, the blacksmith was absent due to illness she didn’t want to share with the kids or us. It went well, they were very engaged. That age group understands the history for the most part and can comprehend the seed or sheep to garment process in the period before mills and yard goods could be purchased. The weather was perfect for them.

Today, we had 23 second graders. It seemed like 230 of them. We thought we were going to get by with decent weather, but after they were there for about 40 minutes, it began to rain. The first thing after they got there, the adults with them gave them a snack, Capri sun drinks and Rice crispy treats, so they started off sugared up. Second graders are very curious and very tactile in their approach. They lack the history foundation, the concept of age (asking me if the people that once occupied the 1810 loom house were still alive), and can’t follow the fact that they couldn’t just go to the store and purchase their clothing and the food they ate. That the 10 by 10 foot building housed a family, that they cooked in the fireplace, that there was no electricity or bathroom. Next week’s group is also 2nd graders, so my presentation will be more tactile, letting them handle some of the equipment, passing around more items to feel, and just going with the flow of “what is that?” questions that punctuated every minute of the 15-20 minutes they are with me.

To add to our difficulties today was the fact that we only had three stations, the inside of the museum with a 12 minute historical video of the region, the old German barn with lots of equipment to see, and me in the loom house with the loom, spinning wheel, and my stuff. By the end of the third rotation with it still raining, they left without the outdoor games that would have appealed to them more than the rest. We only had to tell several of them, that “No, Abe Lincoln didn’t live in that log house.”

On one of our walks this week, on the paved Huckleberry trail, we saw a quartet of folks with two dogs stall as we were approaching and start tossing small sticks into the path, then dodge out into the grass around the edge of the path. Upon arriving at the spot, we saw a large black rat snake, lazily making it’s way across the warm asphalt.

This was the 3rd snake we have spotted this spring on these walks, the first two were small garter snakes.

The garden is generously providing the first produce of the season with lots of asparagus. I love them, hubby doesn’t. Today, I shared bags of them with the coordinator of the museum and with my physical trainer at my session after my museum stint.

We have cooler weather this weekend before a return to the warmer, milder weather. Soon it will be time to plant the remainder of the garden.

Last night when I went over to check on the 4 hens that somehow escaped the run and tunnel earlier yesterday, and to check on the chicks, who are now quite large, they had managed to pull down part of the barricade and half of them were perched beside the older hens. This afternoon, the barricade was pulled down entirely and they will share the coop. The young ones haven’t figured out to go out yet and when they do, there will probably be a few nights of catching them and showing them how to return to the coop. It will still be 12 or more weeks before they begin to lay.

For now, I am drying out my Colonial clothing from today’s rain, trying to figure out next Thursday’s second graders, and just generally unwinding from a busy week. Son 1 will come in late tomorrow night to spend Sunday with us, before being put back on the bus to the train very early Monday morning. It will be good to see him, and we will all go to daughter’s new house to grill out on Sunday.