Greystones Farm

Yesterday Wren and I enjoyed a day out at Greystone's Farm, Bourton-on-the-Water. If you've not been before, we'd definitely recommend a visit. It was a special home educator's day with lots of engaging activities for young and old alike. From milking cows to making bread to catching damsel flies, there really was something for everyone. 

There were so many fun activities I'm listing them here as I go.

1. Milking

The first activity of the day was milking the cows, or at lest pretending to! Wren thoroughly enjoyed squeezing the teats on this one and seemed remarkably good at it! 

Jump forward to the 21st century and this is how's it's done these days. The robotic milking machine was remarkable to watch, from cleaning the teats with rollers to laser precision accuracy. It was fascinating to watch and really insightful for the children.

2. The Iron Age

There were plenty of activities to do at Greystones Iron Age round house. A super educational learning centre where little ones could try their hand at bread making, (the old fashioned way), fire lighting and making wattle and daub. 

Wren was very keen to make some bread. So, while lots of the others went outside to do fire lighting, Wren grabbed a handful of wheat seeds and tried her hand on the rotary quern to make her own flour. Apparently, during the Iron Age, this was the children's job and my goodness, it seemed a lot of effort! How easy is it to simply buy a bag of flour from the super market these days!? We imagined how simple life must have been thousands of years ago.

She also used the saddle stone, which was another method of flour making.

We resorted to flour out of the bag, mixed with a bit of water!

Wren soon had a nice dough ready to cook on the open fire the staff had lit that morning.

It looked delicious and smelled amazing too! The staff were fantastic and gave us their undivided attention, checking on the bread continuously and talking to Wren the whole time about what she was doing.

Always time for hula hoops!

Next Wren had a go at making some wattle and daub. First, she helped to weave some willow to create a wall...

...before helping to make the mixture. They used mud and water rather than poo.

When it was ready, the children grabbed handfuls of the stuff and threw it against the willow. It looked thoroughly enjoyable! 

We also had a go at fire lighting. Here Wren is holding a King Alfred Cake, otherwise known as a dried out mushroom, but it was something the Iron Age folk used to light fires. 

We used a sparking tool and cotton wool and together managed to get a flame. Good team work.

3. River Dipping

Such a fun activity and well worth the walk through the beautiful butterfly filled meadows. We even came across badger sets, which Wren wanted to go down such was the size of their openings!

We also came across a swing, which provided much entertainment!

Wren has been starting to show a real love for butterflies so it was fabulous for her to be able to walk through the meadows with these wonderful little beasts fluttering all around her. We have since done a bit of research and identified this one to be a Gatekeeper, (Pyronia tithonus). 

At the river Wren was quick to whip off her socks and shoes and was soon up to her ankles in mini beasts and water bugs!!

Once again, the staff were fantastic and so enthusiastic. They quite literally waded in to help!!

These are Wren's findings, which include various nymphs and larvae.

4. Damsel Flies

An amazing opportunity to try and catch damsel flies, Wren loved running the length of the meadow pointing out these fabulous little insects for me to catch. I think I had the harder job but I felt jolly proud of us both when we succeeded!!

Here is said damsel fly, not looking as impressed as we were by or efforts!!

5. Poo Dissection

We rounded the day off with some Barn Owl poo dissection. It's a pity Jenson wasn't there as he would have loved it. Wren though was as equally engrossed at the opportunity of playing with poo, and for once it made a nice change for it not to her own!

Her first job was to measure it then she added a little water to help soften and break it down. 

Next she had to pick through the poo to find any animal remains, of which there were lots. 

It was mainly bones from various little mammals. This is a skull from possibly a vole.

Wren also found a lower jaw bone and when comparing it to those on the identification sheet it resembled that of a bank vole in terms of its size and shape.

We took all the bones back home with us to show Jenson, so was as equally as fascinated!!

All in all, it was a wonderfully varied and interesting day. I must give full marks to the staff, who were always on hand to help answer any questions or give demonstrations. Wren and I had a super time - memories to cherish.

(Today has been a much quieter day - I had to work at a wedding so Wren enjoyed some time at the Wilson Art Gallery, Cheltenham, with my home ed friend and her daughter.)