Sunday, June 27, 2010

E-I-E-I-O !!!

After the school year has ended, the three schools in our company each have a Pre-K summer camp and a School Age summer camp. Each class goes on 2-3 field trips a week. Our favorite field trip by far is our trip to Valley Hill Farm in Keysville, Ga.  So far, I've taken 3 groups so far this summer.This is hands down, the best field trip EVER!!!  It has become a beloved part of my summer and even though I am "officially" off for the summer, I am escorting the children on this trip again.

It's about a 45 minute drive out into the country. As soon as we get there, we are greeted by Chipper, a Jack Russell Terrier and Jessie, a Doberman Pincher. Occasionally, Chipper will hop on the bus to greet the kids~ I think he gets as excited as we do about these visits!

We make it to the farm by 9:30 or 10:00, but the horses have already been working.

As soon as we go over the "dos and don'ts" of the farm, we get ready to ride the horses. Mrs. Barbara, one of the owners, talks to the kids about rules and safety and talks about the horse's anatomy.

The kids line up and everybody gets a turn. After the first or second turn, the kids are free to pick whatever horse they choose to ride. Generally, we ride until the kids are tired or until the hay wagon arrives.

 A few of our kids have been so excited, that they dressed for the day!

Wish you could see this better. Joey has his hat, boots, bandana, belt buckle and even a Sheriff's star!

Yes, that's Woody, from Toy Story!

After our rides, we're all pretty hot and the cool breeze of a hayride is most welcome. The horses are ready for a little rest and water, as well! The temp here Friday on our last trip was 101 degrees, so it's hot already, even first thing in the morning.

Mr. Tommy, the other owner, plans special routes for our hayride covering a portion of the 100+ acres they own. Many of the animals are free range on the farm, so it's nice to ride and see them in their natural environment.

They have one area for the riding and work horses, a barn and area for the thoroughbreds, and other horses that have not been broken that roam freely on the acreage.

We love to see the foals on the farm with their moms. They are so precious!

The baby calves are pretty cute, too. They are not as skittish as the foals and often they will allow us to pet them.

We met some of the goats that live on the farm.

Harley, a Great Pyrenees, lives with the chickens and bunnies and protects them from foxes, wolves, coyotes and other things that go "bump" in the night!

We saw eggs that had just been laid and chickens pecking. The bunnies were a big hit with the kids!

Earlier in the summer, a wild boar was caught on the farm and they've been getting him fat for the July 4th BBQ. He's not real friendly and didn't appreciate having his picture taken, so many of the shots I got didn't come out.

All along the hayride, Mr, Tommy stops and tells the children about this or that. One of the stories is about a little shack that was like The Little House on The Prairie.

Here's a shot of one of the ponds we go "mud boggin'" in.

The farm is now situated on what was once a catfish breeding farm, so there are ponds galore. Part of the hayride fun is riding through the corners of the pond at a quick pace, and "mud boggin'" through the muck. It's a bit smelly and messy, so I always tuck my camera away for that part of the trip.

This year, we've discovered a mulberry tree and learned that the wagon is just the perfect height to stop and pick a few berries and feel the breeze. They are quite tasty, but boy do they stain your hands!
As we pass the ponds, Mr. Tommy tells them about an alligator seen on the farm on occasion. The children are always looking for the alligator near the ponds we pass. Finally, we reach the pond where the gator was last spotted and Mr. Tommy pulls the tractor over.

He tells everyone to get quiet and watch the pond. He's spotted one.

He reaches in ----and pulls it out and brings it to the wagon.

The kids squeal and get excited until someone notices that there are very large hole in the gator toy!
Eventually, it's time to head back to the stables and have a picnic lunch.

  By the time we return, the horses we rode earlier have been tended to, and are roaming free, often stopping to check if we have anything we'd like to share. We eat and then pack up to take buses full of happy and exhausted children back to school.

This is one of the best experiences I've had the opportunity to share with young children.They learn so much! In our technological world today, we forget how different life can be just a short drive away from you, many of our children had only seen many of these animals on tv and in books. This was truly an experience many of them will remember for a lifetime!

I haven't got a picture of me on a horse this year yet, but here's one from last year. I ride too, when time allows!

Thanks, Tommy and Barbara, for sharing Valley Hill Farm with us!

Happy Trails to you!


  1. What a great experience for you and all the kids! It looks like they were really enjoying their time.

  2. Looks like a great time of hands-on...well, maybe full body and learning!

  3. What a great memory for you and the kids! I just recently discovered a mulberry tree at a friends house and they are quite tasty!


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