My stay at the Land School has been the incredible experience people have told me it would be. I have made friends with people I had barely talked to before, and created memories and experiences I could never have anywhere else but at the Land School. Farm Stay has been a great way to disconnect not only from technology, but from the city and the busyness of the outside world. I'm not saying Farm Stay is not busy, but it is a good relaxation and reflection period. I am on the last Farm Stay, which obviously takes place during the end of the year. Lately, I have been finding myself reflecting on the school year as a whole, during my free times. Farm Stay is a great time for this, thanks to the peace of the wilderness.
Today we had a Community Work period in which my mentor group traveled to the peninsula to de-barbedwire the forest, or “Forest Liberation” as Calvin called it. We snipped the barbed wire fences from poles stuck in the ground, and then pulled the poles up. I worked mostly on pulling the poles up. The poles were stuck in the ground every six feet with rusted barbed wire connecting them. Most of the fence had collapsed thanks to fallen trees, interrupting the steady pattern of fence, bending the poles and sending them deep into the ground, and creating a struggle to reach most of the wire, which was underground or under leaves. Some of the poles were stuck in the vast root systems of trees, and took several tries to pull them up, even with the lever like tool that helped us pull the poles up. Once finished, it looked as if we had pulled up approximately 20 poles, which seems like a lot, but in reality, we barely got half way done. We pulled the barbed wire and poles back to the Land School in the red van. It was satisfying to look back at the de-barbedwire forest as we drove away, and I am glad I could be a part of the Forest Liberation.
Today we went into Minneapolis for our french competition. We have been practicing our french song for a while now, and we were nervous to perform it. The french competition is held in the University of Minnesota; some middle schools and lots of high schools come to perform poems, small group songs, small group skits and large group songs. Farm Stay did a large group song; a few people from Farm Stay did other performances too.
No one was excited to get up an extra 30 minutes early from the already 7:30 wake up call. There was very few successful conversations as people got ready, got breakfast and did farm chores (in the snow!). Donna, Laura and Calvin drove us in three vans to the french competition. When we got there we still had a lot of time until our performance so we were able to get food, talk and watch our classmates do their smaller presentations. I had a lot of fun watching Oscar, Saxon, Max and Rohan do their small group song. I also enjoyed the diversity of junky and bad food that the university provided.
When it was finally time for us to perform we went into a hallway and practiced twice with Brooks watching us, and then went into the theater space. After two groups from Lake Country had gone, it was our turn. We did pretty well, but we were kind of quiet.
Overall, I really enjoyed the french competition and I had a pretty good day. I ate lots of food that we don’t normally get on Farm Stay, which is probably a good thing (us only having healthy food on Farm Stay, not me eating lots of bad food).
I’m at the halfway mark for Farm Stay 4. It’s hard to believe that it’s already halfway over; these past days have gone by in a whirl. Everyday has been packed with activities and lengthy cook crews, but it still seems like they fly by so fast. I wish Farm Stay were longer so I could finish everything I wanted to, but here we are at the halfway mark, day 9.
Even though everything has gone by so fast, I’ve gotten used to it - gotten used to getting up early in the morning to make pancakes, gotten used to setting up a dish cleaning cart for everyone else, gotten used to playing piano after 8:10, gotten used to preparing lunch and cooking the meat, gotten used to cleaning all of the surfaces after, gotten used to working on micro-economy and academics, gotten used to sharing stories at closing and I’ve gotten used to feeling so tired at the end of the day that I can’t walk straight. But I’ve gotten used to taking hikes with my friends, gotten used to throwing sticks around like javelins, gotten used to laughing so hard I get an ab workout, gotten used to saying bad ironic memes, gotten used to trying to jump riverbanks (not always successfully) and I’ve gotten used to the people that I’ve been living around for the past 9 days.
Although today was the JH visit and I was able to reconnect with other friends and classmates. It felt weird at first since I was so used to a lifestyle in the country and on farmland. I almost felt overwhelmed since I wasn’t used to that many people. It was almost like I felt a different personality in me through my friends in the city compared to the ones with me on Farm Stay. I guess it just goes to show how much Farm Stay has changed me.
It’s still hard to believe that it’s halfway over. I’ve learned so much but it’s felt like I’ve been here for so little time. When it is over I will have a lot of things to take back with me, like how to tell when you should flip a pancake, how to throw a branch and make it stick in the ground, how to play part of Cascades on the piano, how to engage in a good conversation at dinner, how to jump a riverbank and how to write a blog about living on a farm for 18 days. I think the most important things I’ll take home are memories, memories of foosball, memories of awesome hikes and corn stock chucking, memories of javelin throwing, memories of getting burned by bacon grease, memories of new bonds and friendships that I have made on Farm Stay and I’m only halfway in. Well hopefully I can make the best out of the 9 days I have left on Farm Stay 4.
Today was the prairie burning. I could see smoke begin to rise around 10 o’clock and all the kids rushed to see the big fire. The first prairie burn was controlled because they didn’t want to burn down the pine forest. The second prairie burn was free; it started off slowly and then climbed into a raging fire. It was so hot, that everybody decided to take a few steps back. When it had burned out, a giant smoke cloud hid the burnt grass. When no more crackling was heard, we ran back to the Homestead to watch what we thought would be the greatest burning. The workers finished lunch and then watered down all of the areas that fire shouldn’t spread to. It started from the other side and slowly peeled away, until they started more fires along the other edges. It wasn’t as great as we thought it was going to be because smoke covered all of the fire. All and all though, it was a pretty crazy thing to have experienced and I may never get to see it again. That’s why Farm Stay is so much fun, because a lot of the things that you do here, you may not ever do anywhere else, and that’s pretty special.
I woke up this morning knowing that it was going to be a very moving, inspiring, and exciting day. The sun was shining into my sleeping eyes for the first time in a while after days of drizzling and overcast weather. My entire body was exhausted as I got out of bed, but the excitement for the day to come immediately rushed from my messy bed head to my cold, bare toes. The morning went by very slowly, waiting for everyone to eat breakfast and get their gear on for a day in the city. When our silver van finally peeled away from our new home, it made me realize how weird it was going to be to be in the city, even though it had only been six days since our rural experience began.
The hour and fifteen minute drive from the homestead to Saint Paul went by in a blur, and I couldn’t believe that we were going to participate in something so important and so moving; the March for Science! When I first heard of the march, I imagined a much smaller crowd just being together and talking about science, but as we were driving through the endless city streets, struggling to find a parking spot, I saw floods of people in the streets, carrying signs and gathering as one massive group. I had no idea it was going to be such a large movement and I felt truly inspired seeing all those people there supporting the same cause: the cause of the protection of science and the world.
Participating in the march and the rally was not only incredibly fun, but I felt like I was changing something and making a statement that is very necessary. It felt amazing to be with all of those thousands upon thousands of people having a great time and making a difference in this world.
Land School Activities
I have been doing a lot of hiking around lately, and while walking and enjoying nature is fine, I always like to be busy with my hands. So here are some really fun activities to do while on a hike or a walk at the Land School:
At first this may sound a bit violent, but trust me, it’s not. Spear throwing is something that you can do while on a hike along the stream. Some things you may need are: a stick, and a whittling knife (optional). First you have to find a stick that is not too long but not too short either, usually the size of your wingspan is best. Then you have to hold it close to the middle and throw it at the banks of the stream. It may seem a bit weird at first but when you try it it feels really satisfying.
Corn Husk Throwing
Another really really fun activity at the Land School is corn husk throwing. Some required materials are corn husks, and work gloves. For corn husk throwing you first have to go to the cornfields, but only while there is no corn growing. You then have to grab a corn husk that is stuck in the ground and pull it out. If the husk breaks while you are pulling it out it’s no good. What you have to do is pull out the roots. It may seem dirty at first but it’s not that big of a deal once you have started. After you pull out the corn husks you spin in a circle and let go as soon as you are facing the way you want it to go. However you may want to wear gloves because the husks have a tendency of cutting your hands.
These are just a few of the fun things you can do on the Land School. I have enjoyed them very much and am happy to teach you how to do them so that you can enjoy them for yourself when you come to the Land School.
Farm Stay 4 has just started and I have already done many exciting things. We have started our occupations, our micro-economy projects, and have had many bonding experiences (such as outside organized play time) along the way. My favorite part of Farm Stay so far has been the small amounts of time we have had playing games outside with Calvin. The first time we played capture the flag in the woods, which was a great competitive experience that I think we all enjoyed. The second outdoor activity we had was a game called thicket which is pretty much a more advanced version of hide and seek in the woods. I am really looking forward to how this Farm Stay unfolds, not just the free time, but the physical work and outings that the land school staff have planned for us. The Farm Stay experience has always been something I look forward to and is one of the things I appreciate most about the LCS school philosophy and schedule.