Sunday, March 28, 2010

Guest Blog: Author Kim Foley MacKinnon: Meadow Stone Farm, Brooklyn, CT

Guest Blog: Author Kim Foley MacKinnon
Brooklyn, CT

We are delighted to be joined by author Kim Foley MacKinnon.  The generous folks at Union Park Press were nice enough to send us an advance copy of her new book.  It is a wonderful addition to our dadventure library.  Please check it out.

Spring fever is upon us and, despite the horrible rain and the up and down weather, it can’t be stopped, not after a taste of a couple of days reaching almost 70 degrees and the time change giving us more daylight. So, as soon as possible, I start planning outdoor adventures for my family.

We have explored so much of New England, and I never pick favorites, but I will admit to being utterly charmed by the “Quiet Corner” of Connecticut, the northeastern section of the state framed by Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which is just an hour from Boston.

I’ve been thinking of a return visit this year, where we can check out the baby alpacas at the Safe Haven Alpaca Farm (860-455-0054; and visit the Creamery Brook Bison Farm in Brooklyn (860-779-0837; It is home to more than 100 bison and you can take a wagon ride and toss grain to huge beasts. A cooler in the back of the car is a must because besides stocking up on bison steaks, you can get fresh goat cheese at the nearby Meadow Stone Farm (860-617-2982; And make sure to ask to visit with the adorable baby goats. If you decide to make an overnight of it, the Inn at Tonmar in Pomfet is a perfect base. The B&B has just two cozy rooms for visitors (and welcomes kids!) and is owned by Martha and Tony Emilio (860-974-1583), who make everyone feel like family.

The last time we went, it was hard to tear my daughter away from all the animals we encountered at these real working farms. I was glad she got to see where at least some types of food come from, which can be tricky to teach to an urban kid. And it is amazing to me that such a bucolic setting is so close to Boston, completely easy to visit do in a day trip. So next time your little one is singing ee-i-ee-i-o, get in the car and head for some quiet time.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Getting Modern in the Country: The DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA

In a past life, I was a museum educator.  In my present, I'm a dadventurer.  In my next, I hope to be a sculptor.  In all three, I am always dreaming about the DeCordova and thankful by family loves it every bit as much as I do.  Next to Storm King in New York, there are few sculpture parks as pleasant and expansive as this lovely spot in Lincoln.

Every time we arrive, there are new, wonderfully contemprorary works alongside some old faithfuls.  I can never get enough of the Pine Sharks, one of my all-time favorite.  Sydney is still coming to terms with sharks that swim amongst the trees in mid-air, and now Elijah joins him in the confusion.  Lij did love Breon Dungan's Torsion, one of many local artists, Dungan from Truro.

But I must confess that as much as we love wandering the grounds all the way to Sandy Pond, it is the contemporary exhibits in the museum that spark the best conversations.  The 2010 DeCordova Biennial has some wonderfully provocative works.  We got stuck at Phil Lique's Shark; American Dream for a while.  I just hope the boys early passion for sculpture inspires them to enroll at the Museum School, a wonderful resource for budding artists in MetroWest.  I may never have made it as a welder, but thanks to the DeCordova and our favorite artist book The Dot, by Peter Reynolds, I think Sydney's caught the spark.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Calves and Kids: The Codman Community Farm, Lincoln, MA

After the four day noreaster that turned our backyard into the Charles, what better way to spend a sunny spring day in the sixties than a little farm animal fun.  Unless of course, the drumlin is the only part of Drumlin Farm that is not under water.   So maybe we'll get an early start on planting peas?  No, our fav,  Russel's Garden Center is under water too, (I mean several feet).  What are we gonna do?  I rely pretty heavily in these circumstances on my dadventure bible, "The Children's Way to the Metrowest."  I am not sure who the geniuses are at The Children's Way, but it makes me wonder what's in the water in Wayland that they never run out of great dadventure ideas.  Codman was on the list.  We love Lincoln, we love goats and cows.  How could we go wrong?

We arrived to a quiet farm.  No kids being born, no new chicks, and sheep shearing is still a month from today; (April 17th, check it out 'cause I have heard it is awesome!)  We dodged puddles for almost an hour, petted the new kid goats, got up close and personal with the new calves and were chased from the chicken coop to the turkey cage by a very brave rooster.

While the boys were peddling a pint sized tractor in the old barn, I was checking out the Farm store.  I almost went for the side of beef in the freezer, but thought for a minute of that cute little calf I almost took home.  I thought seriously about their adoption program, then checked the price-tag.  Instead, we settled for a dozen eggs, leaving four bucks in an on-your-honor box, (and to think we moved here from NYC.)    It was a perfectly civilized start to a beautiful spring.  

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Maple Days at the Natick Community Organic Farm; Natick, MA

It snowed all week, and then it didn't.  Out of the snow peaked the first crocus bud and robins literaly covered the yard this morning.  More importantly, the sap began to run at the Natick Community Organic Farm.  It's Maple Days, and evidently they couldn't have timed it better with 30 degree temps last night and fifty degrees today, (thanks for the mini-lesson on sapping, Farmer Katie).  

So we packed up the family at 8AM, convinced my mother-in-law from Miami that, yes, we New Englanders are not totally insane for heading outside, voluntarily, in temps near freezing and headed to the farm.  We hadn't been there since Sydney's last Chore Time class in the fall.  The ground was barren, the goats shivered, but the fire was delightful.  After watching sap run from the trees, Sydney and Liji danced around the warm embers designed to show how Native Americans discovered the art of making maple sugar candy, (my personal all-time favorite).  Then we watched colonial pots boil, celebrating our pilgrim past at the farm.


But let's be honest, the tour was great, but we came for the pancakes.  Memorial School next store is host to the Maple Days breakfast.  Pancakes dripping in syrup so heavy your kids are covered.  The Clambake Five kickin' the banjo and trombone so loud you can't help but kick up your heels.  As we exited the cafeteria out into the parking lot, bellies full, brows sweaty, we realized we didn't even need out coats.  Spring was in the air.