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Singing with Cows

Pasqua, one of our Scottish Highland cattle, gave birth on Tuesday night to a large, stillborn calf. Traumatized by her loss, a long labor, and damaged nerves, she lay listless in the pasture. Our staff brought water, grain, and encouragement, but the real gift for Pasqua came from the third graders at Prairie Hill Waldorf School, who spontaneously sang choral music to soothe and comfort her.

Spring is the time of year when many Waldorf schools bring their third graders to our farm to experience farm life.  Waldorf education immerses children in developmentally-attuned curriculum that crosses all disciplines from art to stories to music.  Third grade supports children through the critical “Nine-Year Old Change” as they become aware of their sense of self as distinct from the world.  Farming, along with other topics such as shelter and clothing, give children a sense of their own stability, groundedness and capacity to care for themselves and others. 

The children sensed a need for healing on the farm, and found their own agency to respond.  They couldn’t provide veterinary care, but they did share the gift they had: their music.

Prairie Hill Singing

It was a gift for me to start my day with this story, especially on a day that unfolded with the terrible news of yet another school shooting, and the heavy weight of a question: What can I do to prevent this?  The insight that came to me: More children need to sing to cows.  Translated: we need every child to grow up experiencing their own value as part of a beloved community.  This might happen on a baseball team, an orchestra, a scout or youth group….or...on a farm!

Here’s what we observe about farm-based education at our urban and rural sites: children develop a relationship with the earth, plants, animals and people, and learn to care about them as individuals and a whole.  Daily experiences of watering a garden, feeding a goat, or troubleshooting a broken fence confirm that actions make a difference. This deep inner knowledge of agency carries into other areas of children’s lives. Indeed, a mother of a high school senior recently told me that her daughter’s experiences of farm day camp were formative during her elementary years.  

This summer for the first time, we’ll hold 6-day overnight camps in addition to our day camps, family programs and opportunities for school and community groups.  In Rockford, the Roots  & Wings Youth Leaders program will provide children at Blackhawk Courts with opportunities to make a difference in their own community. In all, thousands of young people across the region will have immersive and transformative farm experiences this year. 

How can you support this effort?  

I look forward to working with you and our staff to provide young people with transformative experiences that connect them with themselves, each other, and the earth. 

Sincerely,

Deb Crockett

Executive Director