Have you ever had an experience that just seemed too perfect to be true, one of those moments that you wished would never end and that you will always remember with fond memories? That magical moment happened here on our farm last week when we hosted a summer sheep and wool camp for 6 children and two moms. This same group of children and moms with an addition of one new friend attended camp last summer so it was a special reunion for all of us. Tess our border collie sat on the front step every morning waiting for the campers to arrive. She would greet them at their cars with much enthusiasm.
Once lunches were put away the younger campers disappeared into our barn with my children leading the way while moms met with me around our large table in our farmhouse. The children began their day with chores of watering the sheep and angora goats, and feeding the pigs, rabbits, and hens. Craft time followed with our large old dairy barn becoming their fiber studio. The week was full of much weaving, spinning, dyeing yarn and scarves, and felting. Back strap looms lined the barn wall, skeins of naturally dyed yarn hung from drying racks, dyed t-shirts were strung on a rope to dry, felted soaps and masks covered every available surface.
After their morning craft time, lunches were taken up into the hay loft. Myk the barn cat enjoyed their company and the extra little piece of ham sandwich or cookie the children shared with him. Myk would lay in anyone’s lap who invited him purring loudly. Lunch time conversations centered around tall tales and jokes.
Afternoons were focused on a joint needle felting project, a garden harvest mural which represents our farm. They hope to enter it into our local fair and the VT Sheep and Wool Festival this fall. In these afternoon hours squeals of laughter could be heard from the barn. Creative energy seeped out of every crack in the barn wall. At times I would go to the door of the barn, lured by the intense quiet or the shrill of laughter coming from the barn and just watch in amazement. Here sat 9 children ages 8-17 from many different backgrounds, working together on the same project as if belonging to one family, sharing their lives with stories and giggles as they worked. The work they created is an amazingly beautiful master piece which reveals our farm through their eyes and the work of their hands.
Our farm camp week invited moms to come along as well with their children. The two moms which attended last year came back again this year. Last year our focus was on watching a fleece go from sheep to yarn. This year the moms wanted to branch out into other fiber arts areas. The first two days were spent experimenting with natural dyes. We gathered the flowers from our fields the first day and learned the process of natural dyeing. The second day we used natural dyes that are not native to our area like cochineal, and indigo. The remainder of the week was spent on weaving with back strap looms and learning nuno felting and wet felting techniques.
Most days we became so absorbed in our work and conversation that lunch was nearly forgotten. We shared our interests, and the joys and challenges of being a parent through out the week as we worked with our hands. We found the year of absence from one another had made no difference as we picked up where we left off as friends working together on our farm.
It seemed that Friday came all too fast and none of us were ready for its arrival. There was a sense of melancholy Friday afternoon as our time drew to a close. The children had hidden their needle felted mural from their moms all week. Friday afternoon they were ecstatic to share it with their moms pointing out each item they had worked on. Reluctantly the children began to gather their belongings to go home giving hugs and kisses to Myk and Tess and calling out to the various animals on the farm. A broody hen had been their felting companion everyday as they worked in the barn and she too was given a farewell pat. Our time together had come to a close. We were left with only the memories of a magical week where lives blended into one as we worked together as friends and family on our farm.