A few Saturdays ago (the 11th, I have been at war with uploading photos and so far, the technology is winning, so I shall just post this sans pictures right now.) was the annual Prairie Day at George Washington Carver National Historic site. Every year, about the second Saturday of September, they put on demonstrations, have crafts, story telling and music. The girls and I went last year for the first time and absolutely had a blast. This year, my husband didn’t have to go in to work until the afternoon that day so he got to go with us. We arrived a little after ten in the morning. It had rained the night before and it was a little drizzly yet when we got there, so we got a great parking space (last year, I had to park in the boonies). There weren’t that many people wanting to risk it at that point because of the weather. I was glad. I love stuff like this, but I hate being in a crowd of people. This year the had the bulk of the demonstrations on the front lawn in front of the museum and down at the Carver house.
We started at the front lawn and the girls were given stickers proclaiming they were honorary junior park rangers (they do participate in the Jr. Ranger program and kids can earn badges, however, Bugs isn’t quite old enough for that yet. Hopefully next year 🙂 ). We then wandered over to where some people were tacking a quilt and we watched them do that for a few minutes. To tack a quilt, you run a thick thread or yarn through the patch, leave it about two inches, tie it in a knot. The girls weren’t too impressed with it. We then wandered over to where the quilters were working on a four patch quilt in a HUGE quilt frame. I can’t believe how tiny they could stitch. They also had a nine patch and a Dresden plate on display that this group had made. All absolutely gorgeous. Part of me wishes I could quilt like that, however, there is no place to put a quilt frame like that anywhere in my house, nor do I have the patience to work like that.
After we saw the pretty quilts, we wandered over to the Civil War reenactor’s table. He had on display artifacts from the Civil War. Now that is my cup of tea, however, the girls really didn’t appreciate standing there looking at old boots and bullets. Their attention was quickly drawn to where a male box turtle was making his way across the lawn between the quilters and the Civil War table. They “chased” the turtle several feet and had a blast with it.
We stopped at the leaf rubbing table, however the people in front of us wouldn’t leave and were talking about random things that no one cared about. The poor volunteer there at that table looked so bored and like she wanted rescued.
We then proceeded to the antique toys table. The girls got to play with a wooden yo-yo, a Jacob’s ladder (I love playing with those) and got to see wooden hoops get tossed. Then, they tried their hands at chess. I think they have a way to go before mastering that game yet 😉
We then went down the path and came upon the natural dyes and painting table. The girls got to pound flowers and plants on card stock to extract their dyes in pretty patterns. They loved it. And they did a pretty good job too. After they were finished with their cards, we moved down to where you got to paint with natural dyes. They had paint made from mustard, poke-berries, coffee and beets among others. Bugs loved it as painting is one of her favorite activities. I had intended to get a picture of each girl painting and then taking that picture and framing it above the finished product. However, I was busy helping to keep Beans not dipping the wrong paint brush back into other colors (they had a separate brush for each color to keep them from mixing and so more kids could paint at once) and didn’t have a chance. I can substitute the pictures from extracting the plant dyes on card stock and put the card stock underneath in the frame instead.
We then hiked down the trail and over the bridge to the pond. There the girls got to weave coasters at the basket weaving demonstration table. One of the ladies there had even woven herself a lovely purse. After we did that, we got to go to the conservationists tables. The girls got to pet the pelts of deer, fox, muskrat, a gray squirrel, otter, mink, skunk, wolf and bear. They said it was all so soft and cuddly. I’m surprised that they haven’t asked for animal skin blankets for their beds after that.
We then took the trail away from the pond and wandered to the Carver house. At the house, there were demonstrations regarding the kitchen garden, how to cook over a fire in a real dutch oven (though, what they had were spiders, not true dutch ovens…). We then went to where they were dipping candles. Each of the girls got to dip their own candle. After just a tiny bit of help, Beans dipped hers with glee. She did a very good job. However, she did get a little over exuberant and her candle has a very interesting shape. Bugs did well dipping too, but decided she needed more help, and she was a bit scared as the wax was hot. Bugs doesn’t appreciate doing new things right away most of the time. She is very cautious until she figures out that yes, she can do it and do it well. After we made candles, we got to churn some butter in mason jars, and using a real butter churn. They felt cheated as we didn’t get to bring that home. Then, we stood and watched some spinners make yarn and thread on spinning wheels. The spinners seemed to be having a great time. Then, we got to see a lady using a small loom (a fill in for the lady who knew what she was doing, this poor girl was barely able to work the foot pedals) and then off to do the laundry.
At the laundry demonstration, the girls got to soap up some clothes in tubs using real lye soap, scrub them on metal wash boards, rinse them and then rinse them again in liquid bluing and then pin them on the line to dry.
It was then time to take the rest of the trail back up to the museum. Getting ready to cross a small creek, we see two huge ruby throated hummingbirds sipping nectar from some flowers. Hubbs tried to get a picture of them, but they didn’t cooperate at all. Then, we saw a gorgeous green caterpillar on the bridge over the bigger creek. I had never seen one like that before. Most of the pictures I got of that were kind of fuzzy as I couldn’t figure out what setting to use on the camera.
Passing by the Carver family cemetery, we saw a display from the master gardeners on edible and medicinal herbs (the girls didn’t care that much as by then they were proclaiming that they were starving, and Bugs said her legs were hungry). We also passed up the headstone rubbing activity in the cemetery, figuring that the girls wouldn’t get much out of that.
We finally make it back to the car and we unpack our picnic lunch and get to listen to the blues and country western western music streaming from the music tent on the lawn. We didn’t have time to go in and listen to the dulcimers playing inside the museum, which is sad, as Hubbs and I love dulcimer music. It was a great trip down. The girls had a lot of fun and we really enjoyed the time together on a field trip as a family. Our next field trip is scheduled for September 20th and we are going to the Candy House Factory here in town. Pictures and a write up to come after!.