Last week was my nieces’ and nephew’s Spring Break. I have been volunteering to entertain them for a day during school breaks and so I did this past Tuesday.
The weather was unseasonably hot. Since we all love farms and animals, I planned a visit to a historic farm in Mercer County, NJ. We stopped for lunch at the pretty one-square-mile city of Lambertville. Victorian houses and Federal row homes still grace the old streets and the town is filled with artist studios, galleries, shops and restaurants. New Jersey’s longest park, the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park, runs through Lambertville adding to it s charm and beauty.
After changing money to feed the meter and a short stroll, we had lunch at a luncheonette. Arman had to decorate his sandwich.
We had to sprint back to the car to beat the meter and started our 10-minutes drive to the Howell Living History Farm. The Farm is a gift to Mercer County by Inez Howell in her husband’s memory. In her letter to the County dated March 10, 1974, Inez wrote about her vision for the Farm:
I am offering the farm as a gift to Mercer County in memory of Charley. To be used as a Living History Farm, where the way of living in its early days could not only be seen but actually tried by the public, especially children – milking a cow, gathering eggs in a homemade basket- helping to shear sheep, carding wool, spinning and weaving.
Today the Farm exists in its rural setting as both an example of farming as it was practiced in New Jersey during 1890-1910 and as a landscape where one can find the remnants of over 250 years of farming practice and life. After parking the car, we picked up a map at the visitor center and started our walk toward the farm house and barns. The landscape and rolling hills with the occasional trees in bloom were truly pretty. After walking over a short wooden bridge, we spotted our first farm animals: Sheep and their Lambs…
Walking uphill for another 5 minutes toward the barns took us to the horse pasture and its pond. The kids had to make an extra long stop here.
Reaching the top of the small hill, we could see the old red barns with a water pump in front. It was so peaceful and gazing at the barns, I remembered the last part of Inez Howell’s letter:
And the barn. The rugged old individualist, pigeons in its belfry, and bats, too, and barn swallows swooping in and out – because life lives on other life – wooden plough and oxen, treasured manure, sowing and reaping – Harvest Home and fiddlers – swing your partner and steal a kiss. Sleigh bells and up before dawn, fragrance of mint as you herd the cows up from the meadow, with the sun slanting across the Delaware. And church. And spring again.
We were soon greeted by a woman dressed in early 20th century clothing bearing a bright smile. She offered to take us on a short tour and introduced us to:
The Chicks & Hens
The Farm Cat
The Draft Horses and Stable
and finally, The Piglets
After saying goodbye to our helpful guide, we paused for a while to take in the beautiful and peaceful scenery and exercise some balancing…
Of course we had to make another stop by the horses. The kids were successful in attracting the horses to come close for petting. While watching the kids and taking pictures; I hid under a tree shade and really felt good.
We were really feeling the heat. It felt like July. We were once again approached the wooden bridge which stretched over a shallow brook. The water was so clear and looked so cold…I could not resist the temptation to soak my feet in it. I ordered to kids to take off their socks and shoes and follow me into the crisp and rocky water. “Really?”, they asked. By then, I had already dropped aside my shoes and socks, rolled up my jeans and was in the water with a big smile on my face. They soon copied me and braved the creek. Arman had the perfect shoes on and just walked right in. Ahhhhh, it was so cold and so good!
Arman, the rock man, started looking for rocks. Neda spotted a heart-shaped one which he picked up immediately.
I think we spent half an hour – if not more – in the creek. It was hard to bring ourselves to put our socks and shoes back on. I had to convinced Arman to leave some of his stone treasures and be content with bringing a couple of them along. Back in the car, the kids started planning the dinner and a possible sleep-over. The dinner- I had promised them, the latter was their own instant solution for staying together. Their faces were so hopeful and they had behaved so well throughout the day that I could not say no. After proper permissions were obtained from my sisters and night bags were packed; we got home to walk the dog and start our barbecue. The weather had cooled down and we had a pleasant burger in the backyard gazing at the young tulips and vanishing daffodils and blossoms. We remembered the farm and animals, and talked about how great soaking our feet in the cold creek felt.
The sleep-over was a success. 😛 After a gourmet breakfast was served in the backyard; we ended our 24-hrs. fun-together with playing and running around with Shaboo in the yard.
It is a true privilege to spend time in the company of kids (particularly the well-behaved ones) and to see and appreciate life in simple terms.
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