Grant’s Farm in the Time of COVID-19

It’s been a long time since we’ve been to Grant’s Farm!

Last week, the day before they announced the opening of the park to regular guests, we took a private “Deer Park Adventure” tour. We’ve been on a private expedition at Grant’s Farm once before, but it was before Chickadee was born, and long enough ago that Moose and Ladybug really didn’t remember it. I decided we needed a special end-of-the-school-year activity, especially after the last 15 months of staying home and missing all of our usual (not to mention spontaneous!) field trips. The tour was very much like I remembered it from last time…we got to ride in a safari van with a great driver and narrator who made the experience amazing, and go on trails not taken by the normal trams, and see the grounds up close and personal! Of course, some things were different, from temperature checks and masks to being pretty much the only visitors in the park, and not getting to see some familiar things like the Tiergarten and the Clydesdales, but such is life during COVID-19.

We had a nice moment for a family photo in front of Hardscrabble cabin before we took a peek inside the house built by Ulysses S. Grant:

Probably the best part of the private tour is getting up close to the animals:

We even got to hand-feed some of them, including elk, buffalo (a buffalo actually licked me!), and, of course, goats:

This was a fun and memorable activity, and I’m really glad we had the chance to do something special as a family before the school year ends. I’m looking forward to going back now that they’re open to the general public again, too!

2020-21 School Year–Week Thirty-Three

Hymn of the Week–“Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise” (Lutheran Service Book #917)

The penultimate week of the 2020-21 school year (and the penultimate week of Turkey’s and Bunny’s high school careers!) is complete!

Turkey and Bunny really don’t have a ton of work left, but they did fly through the chapter on the urinary system in advanced biology. They also continued their poetry study, covering classics like “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” “Ode to a Grecian Urn,” “Sonnet 43,” and “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” We also discussed some of the complexities of the Vietnam War in our study of US Geography and Culture.

Ladybug continued to review in algebra to prepare for the final exam. She and Chickadee started our fun, end-of-the-year study of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” in history. In science, she learned about rocks and minerals, and we started “growing” a new batch of crystals:

Chickadee also did review in math. We finished reading Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. She learned about grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids in science. In grammar, she learned about contractions (even though she discovered that she actually already knew them!).

Since we’ve had so few field trips in the last year-plus, I splurged on a private tour of Grant’s Farm, something we did years ago before Chickadee was born. It was a fun experience, and so nice to visit again after almost two years!

We also stopped by the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, White Haven. We’ve driven past it every time we’ve visited Grant’s Farm, but never actually went in. We weren’t up for the house tour yet, but we did enjoy walking around the grounds!

Next week is it, and I’m not sure that I’m ready prepared…I think it’s going to be a very emotional week!

Chickadee Thursday

This has been an exciting week! On Tuesday, Chickadee had her first appointment with the orthodontist and had spacers put it in…next month, she’s going to have a few brackets attached, as well!

And yesterday, we went on a Deer Park Adventure Tour at Grant’s Farm, which was a blast! We went on a private expedition there many years ago, before Chickadee was born, and this was a similar experience, and currently the only tour they’re offering before they reopen the park following COVID-19 restrictions. We were pretty much the only people there besides employees!

It’s going to be hard to top the excitement of this week!

2019-20 School Year–Week Seven

What a week! I keep wondering when things are going to slow down, but at this point, almost a quarter of the way into the school year (!!!), maybe I just have to realize they’re not going to…

Turkey and Bunny finally reached something in pre-calculus that made them pause (a bit)…they started a chapter on reference angles. They were a little confused, until they realized that they were basically learning about the same thing in physics in regard to vectors, and then it all came together, which was exciting for me as a teacher to watch! Their US history lessons focused on troublemakers in colonial America: Roger and Abigail Williams (surprisingly, they were unrelated!). They practiced utilizing different points-of-view in writing.

Ladybug worked with metric conversions in pre-algebra, which was pretty easy. She is almost done with her literature study of The Hobbit. We were sad when Lake-town was destroyed! In history, she read about the self-imposed isolation of Japan in the late 1500s. She practiced composing different styles of introductions and conclusions in writing.

Chickadee started her study of Tales from Beatrix Potter in literature, beginning with the story of Peter Rabbit. We also read the “Tippy Bunnies” stories by Candace Fleming, because they have so many things in common with the story of Peter. She worked on carrying numbers to the hundreds place in math. She also finished the chapter on Mercury in science…Venus is up next!

We also played a new game this week. While we’ve already enjoyed Chrononauts and Chrono-Trek, this is the first time we’ve played Early American Chrononauts. Turkey and Bunny are edging closer to the Revolutionary War in their study of US history, so I thought this would be a fun addition, because I really like talking about the domino effect that is events throughout history, and this really helps us visualize just how differently things could have ended up. I hope to play √úberChrononauts with them soon!

And for a little extra fine arts education, we attended two different organ recitals this week. While we are very familiar with organ music within the church service, it’s a completely different experience to hear the organ playing on its own, especially when you have the opportunity to hear an artist like Christopher Houlihan play on an exceptional instrument!

And finally, we did get to go on another field trip this week, this time to Grant’s Farm, because not only was it pleasant out, it actually felt like fall!!! This is the outdoor field trip I’ve been saving for really pleasant weather, and we weren’t disappointed. And even though we’ve been to Grant’s Farm countless times, we all learned something new (and we heard the call of an elk for the first time, which was something special!).

I can’t wait to see what next week has in store!

Stripes and Umbrellas

I have been meaning to wear this striped jailbird top and Mary Blair umbrella print Jenny skirt from Pinup Girl Clothing¬†for months, but for some reason I never got around to it. I finally thought to put the outfit together over the weekend, for our visit to Grant’s Farm. I don’t care what “they” say about plus-size women wearing stripes…I love the way the black and white looks with the pink! This is one of those outfits that just makes me immediately happy when I put it on!

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What fashion “rules” do you like break?

An October Morning at Grant’s Farm

I was beginning to think that we weren’t going to make it to Grant’s Farm at all this year, but we managed to sneak in a visit the last weekend they’re open! It was a little warmer than I was hoping yesterday (I’m still waiting for fall to really arrive), but it was a beautiful day to be out:

We saw lots of animals, both during the tram ride through the Deer Park, and at the Tier Garten:

Every time we walk through the Bauernhof, I see something new, and I always feel like I’ve been transported to Germany!

I’m glad we finally made it out there…it’s still one of my favorite places to visit in St. Louis!

Grant’s Farm Clydesdale Tour

Today, Ladybug and I went on a Clydesdale tour at Grant’s Farm:

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We met several famous horses, including Rudy, who is known for the 9-11 Budweiser commercial, and Pedro and Peewee, who have appeared in the last three Super Bowl commercials (and probably the next one, too). We also learned quite a bit about the differences between these horses. Rudy is a retired hitch horse, and because of his large size, was one of the wheel horses, which is the pair closest to the wagon. There are also body, swing, and lead horses (working from the wagon forward), and they are not all interchangeable…each horse has a specific job! Pedro and Peewee, on the other hand, while having the right look, weren’t big enough for the hitch, so their job is to be Budweiser stars!

We learned a lot about the horses in general, and which ones are chosen for the hitch. In order to pull the wagon, a horse needs to be between 18-20 hands high, have a black mane and tail, a dark brown body, white lower legs, and a white face. Also, the right personality is a must! Ladybug is definitely NOT 18 hands high!

We got to walk through the main barn, which used to be the foaling barn:

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We also saw a sled like the ones used in New Jersey when the horses learn how to pull for the first time:

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Their hooves are huge…we saw evidence of this in their prints on the ground, and in one of the shoes we got to hold…it weighs five pounds!

We also got see the show and practice tack. The show tack weighs a combined total of 130 pounds!

While we were on our tour, Ryan and the rest of the children had fun walking around Grant’s Farm, going to an animal encounter, (where Turkey got to hold a python), and riding the carousel:

And we all enjoyed seeing how beautiful Grant’s Farm is in the fall!

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Today was a very fun day, and we all had a good time at one of our favorite St. Louis area locations!

The Top Five–St. Louis Area Attractions

I’ve been thinking lately about my favorite places in the St. Louis area, so I decided to come up with a “Top Five” list. It wasn’t easy to narrow it down, and I really wish I could have added a sixth location, so that Eckert’s could get its due (see what I did there?), but I finally settled on these five places:

  • Busch Stadium–There is no place in St. Louis that I’d rather be than at the ballpark, watching the Cardinals win!
  • Missouri Botanical Garden–Even though less than a year ago, we’d never even been to the Botanical Garden, it’s quickly become a favorite destination for the entire family. I love seeing how things change, even from week to week. And the special events are fantastic!
  • Grant’s Farm–This has long been a family favorite location. Where else can you ride a tram through a deer park, feed goats, ride a carousel, take in an animal show or two, visit some cool old conveyances, and drink a free beer (if you’re of legal age)? I can’t think of any other place like it!
  • Seamus McDaniel’s–I know what you’re thinking…Seamus McDaniel’s, home of the best burger in St. Louis, isn’t an “attraction.” Well, to our family it is! And some of my favorite memories can be traced back to that restaurant, so it’s definitely one of my favorite places in St. Louis.
  • Forest Park–I suppose this one is kind of cheating, because a.) It includes a whole bunch of individual locations; and 2.) It’s so obvious. But Forest Park is a special place. Home to many free, family friendly attractions like the St. Louis Zoo, the Missouri History Museum, the St. Louis Science Center, and the St. Louis Art Museum, plus host to many local festivals, and a fantastic place to enjoy the great outdoors, whether you’re going for a walk or having a picnic, Forest Park is a true St. Louis treasure, and a place I enjoy visiting regularly.

What are your favorite locations in St. Louis?

A Spring Morning at Grant’s Farm

This morning, we visited Grant’s Farm. It’s always a fun place to be, especially in the spring, when there are baby animals everywhere, and everything is green and beautiful!

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It’s always fun to see what’s new at Grant’s Farm!