Lift Up Your Voice & Sing!

Some of my favorite memories of outdoor adventures are remembered through songs learned at different events. Every time I think of “Tough as a pine knot, tall as a Hemlock, we’re the gang from… Miami!” I think back to my summer camp experience in 1973.

Have you ever heard the song that goes, “I love to go a wandering along the mountain track?” It’s called “The Happy Wanderer” and it’s a great song.

I used to know all kinds of camp songs when I was working in Great Parks’ outdoor education department in 1986 and 1987. That number has dwindled now to only a couple of songs. There’s the “Beaver” song and “Froggy.” They’re simple little tunes that I still pull out during teachable moments. The memory of the frog sitting under the black willow may fade, but the catchy little tune may stay in your memory for a lifetime.  It may bring you back to a simpler time, when the only challenge was being outside and getting a glimpse of a bullfrog.

I began this year’s Luminary Hike at Glenwood Gardens by singing a rousing rendition of “Way Down Yonder in the Pawpaw Patch” with verses including “Where, oh, where, is dear little Daniel?” and “Where, oh, where, is sweet little Nelly?”

You don’t have to be a potential candidate for “The Voice.”  It’s not a talent show. Songs are another way of celebrating the great outdoors, so try lifting up your voice and singing!

Eric King, InReach Teacher, Parky’s Farm

The Benefits of a Barn Cat

When you think of a farm, you probably imagine scenes involving rolling pastures of green grass, cows mooing, chickens clucking and a happy farmer tending to his crops. What you probably didn’t notice when you were imagining your happy farmer was one of the most important aspects of the farm, sitting and purring at his feet…the barn cat!

Barn cats have been a popular staple of farm life and have helped farms succeed throughout history. Barn cats not only provide companionship for the farmer, his family and sometimes other farm animals, but they also earn their keep controlling the rodent population. Field mice find livestock feed and crops on farms an easy meal. Having a barn cat helps scare the mice away! Even if the barn cat is not a skilled hunter, his mere presence is enough to scare most rodents into finding another food source.

Finnigan

At Parky’s Farm in Winton Woods, we have our very own barn cat named Finnigan (Finn for short). Our guests have come to know Finn and look forward to seeing him on their farm visits.  Finn spends his mornings rounding the farm, checking on the livestock and patrolling his home turf. In the afternoon, he likes to relax and cat nap on a bale of straw. He’s always eager to accept a pat of thanks from the public for a job well done.

With Pumpkin Patch, Halloween Nights and Holiday Affaire programs coming up, the fall and winter months are a great time to stop by the farm.  And, while you’re here, keep an eye out for our fiesty feline friend, Finnigan, the barn cat!

Carolyn Denton, Inreach Teacher, Parky’s Farm

Dabbling Ducks

Last year, Parky’s Farm acquired two Welsh Harlequin ducks: a drake (male) and a hen (female). The Welsh Harlequin is a domestic breed that was developed in Wales in 1949 and is different from the Harlequin sea duck, which is a wild animal.

PF_ducks1_2014

After making friends with the resident Peking duck, both ducks were very content swimming in the baby pool and hanging out with the chickens. One day, they discovered they could go under fences and out into the wetland, which is full of baby insects and water-plant growth that they love to eat! Here, you can see just make out their rear ends, which they put up in the air and out of the water in a behavior called “dabbling.”

PF_ducks_wetland_2014

When unable to get to the wetland, they like to hang out with their new turkey friends.
PF_ducks_turkeys_2014

Next time you’re at Parky’s Farm, be sure to stop and tell them “hi!”

Ellen Meehan, InReach Teacher, Parky’s Farm