Hunting and Gathering
Sarah Chaffee, October 13, 2017
This week’s theme at Forest Preschool was all about hunting and harvesting. The preschoolers listened to stories about animals, pretended to be their favorite furry creature, made daily fires and cooked a delicious treat with plants they harvested themselves!
The preschoolers sitting around a fire during lunch.
On Tuesday the children practiced archery in the Horse Arena and enjoyed seeing how their skills had improved since being first being introduced to the bow and arrow. On Wednesday the preschoolers gathered for Opening Circle, excited to see what was in the day’s mystery bag. As it was passed around the children voiced their guesses- “Pants!” “Cotton balls!” "Gold!" Sean opened up the bag and out came a beautiful grey fox fur hat. The preschoolers got to feel how soft and warm the fur felt.
Two children holding hands while walking back to Trillium Camp after collecting firewood.
Afterwards they made their way to Trillium Camp where they continued to complete their daily Weather Check and then went on a creek wander where they tried to catch fish. Before lunch the children separated into two groups to gather firewood and joined together again at the log circle in their camp and appreciated how much wood they had managed to collect. They helped Sean build the fire by telling him what kinds of wood go first- “Whispies, pencils and then marker sticks!”
Jeremiah and the preschoolers having fun while collecting firewood.
On Thursday Forest Preschool spent the day working on a special, and tasty, project. First they gathered lots of firewood and then listened as Jeremiah talked about the strength of igneous rocks while starting the fire. He carefully placed several rocks into the flames and explained how they can be used to cook food with a technique called “rock boiling.”
A preschooler stirring the soup they made using an empty pumpkin and wild edibles.
Afterwards they helped Melissa empty a giant pumpkin that served as their pot for the soup. With Angie the children learned about nettles and garlic mustard and harvested both, adding them to the pumpkin. When the rocks were ready they were put in the soup to warm it up and, once it had cooled, was shared with everyone.
Melissa and the preschoolers on the horsey log.
The feeling of fall was definitely in the air this Thursday as Homeschool had a second week with their guilds and continued to work on their projects. After Opening Circle the “Day in the Life” Guild quietly vanished and weren’t seen until the end of the day when they appeared back at 4-H Acres, helping each other carry massive stalks of phragmites. They said they went to a mystery location where the phragmites grow to be 10 feet tall and spent the day making mazes and playing sardines amongst them. The guild said they want to use the phragmites to repair the Muskrat Lodge at Village Camp.
The Cooking Guild working together to light a fire.
Meanwhile the Cooking Guild got straight to work making delicious potato cakes with a wild edible pesto. They traveled to Village Camp to collect soapstone for cooking their potato cakes and on the way back kept their eyes peeled for plants that would taste good in their pesto. When they returned to their base camp, the homeschoolers worked together to make a fire. Since it had rained the day before, most of the wood was wet and made it difficult to get the fire started. As they tried Danielle encouragingly said- “You never give up on the things you love,” quoting her friend and Primitive Pursuits’ summer staff member, Cindy.
Adirondack blue potato cakes cooking on soapstone.
Once the fire was roaring and providing them heat on the breezy day, the homeschoolers began cutting up the Adirondack blue potatoes that were grown in Danielle’s garden, which were then mixed with a cracked egg and set on the soapstone near the fire to cook. They gathered garlic mustard, dandelion and other wild edibles and mixed them with salt, olive oil and crushed hickory nuts. By lunchtime they got to enjoy what they had created together.
Danielle and Elias mixing wild edibles with salt, olive oil and crushed hickory nuts to make pesto.
The Construction Guild continued their smashing, sorting and sifting of the dried clay, which they had started last week. Together the homeschoolers laid down a tarp and poured from buckets the remaining piles of clay they had to process. After some hard work and a break for lunch, they were ready to turn the dried clay into cob, a type of clay that was used to make the cob oven last year at Village Camp.
A member of the Construction Guild working the clay into the correct consistency.
In order to turn their dried clay into cob they added water, sand and hay and used their hands and feet to mix all the ingredients together. The homeschoolers knew they had the right consistency when they were able to make a ball out of the cob and throw it on the ground while it held its shape.
The Pottery Guild washing some wild apples to make cider.
Last week the Pottery Guild hiked all the way to the Cliffs where they gathered several bucketfuls of clay. On Thursday they continued working the clay by adding some water and stirring the mixture with large sticks. The homeschoolers took turns stirring and talking about what they wanted to make once the clay was ready. “I want to make a bowl and a mug,” said one homeschooler.
All the guilds gathered together to watch Sean's cider press in action.
After stirring the clay into a thick, soupy mixture, the Pottery Guild left the buckets to settle and joined the Cooking Guild to make apple cider. They sorted and washed some previously harvested wild apples and then used a large stick to smash them. The homeschoolers worked in groups of four to smash the apples and sang “Wood, Stone, Feather and Bone” to stay on beat together. Once they had smashed enough apples they were added to Sean’s handmade cider press. Sean explained to the homeschoolers that he uses a carjack capable of lifting six tons on the apples to get the perfect cider. When the crank was pulled and the lever opened they were able to fill up almost two gallons of fresh cider!
The homeschoolers giving a toast to fall during Closing Circle.
During Closing Circle each guild shared two stories from the day. The Cooking Guild described the food they made, the Construction Guild laughed about turning the clay into "burritos," the Pottery members shared the progress they had with their project and the "Day in the Life Guild" talked about their adventures into the phragmites forest. Afterwards the homeschoolers got out their cups and filled them with the refreshing apple cider they had just made. They lifted their cups high in the air and gave a toast to fall.
Homeschoolers beginning their day.
Thank you for reading! We had a great week in the woods and are looking forward to another!