Stories and thoughts from day to day life in the Bullard Family

Apple Picking November 12, 2011

Filed under: Activities,Music — parentsong @ 6:23 am
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Making our way well into November, I know apple season is waning, but I thought it would be nice to share some of our favorite apple songs and verses and some of our apple-picking photos. This year we were able to make apple-picking a bigger part of our lives and visit the orchards several times. No apples from the grocery store this fall! And this weekend we’ll head out to the farm for some old-fashioned cider-making!


Down in the green orchard, there stands a green tree,

With the finest of branches you ever did see!

The apples are ripe, and ready to fall

And here is a basket to gather them all!

Here is the tree with leaves so green,

And here are the branches that hang in between.

When the wind blows, the apples will fall,

And here is a basket to gather them all.


The leaves are green, the apples are red,

They hang so high above my head.

Leave them alone til frosty weather

They’ll all come tumbling down together.

Two little apples, hanging in a tree.

Two little apples, smiled at me.

I shook that tree as hard as I could,

Down came the apples, Mmmm they were good!

Way up high in the apple tree,

An apple looked down and smiled at me.

I spied that apple so red and round,

And caught it as it tumbled down!

How do you like to enjoy apples? Maybe next year I’ll get to cook with them some more! For now, it is cut and eat- very simple. I think I’ll try a pie, though. We just got a nice mix of winesap, goldrush, and stayman. We’ll see how my swell baking abilities handle it (she says, sarcastically).

Thanks for reading!


Farm Days: Wheat Threshing November 8, 2011

Filed under: Activities — parentsong @ 6:55 am
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The farm in autumn is so full of fun activities and experiences! One of my favorite things about it is that they use turn of the century farming techniques and equipment.

This trip taught us the process of going from seed to whole grain- something a city girl never got to do before. I thought it was really cool!

Wheat is harvested here using a reaper-binder, a machine that cuts and ties the wheat into bundles (sheaves). The farmers walk behind the reaper and set the sheaves upright, leaning the bunches against one another (called “shocks”). This helps them to dry. After about a week, they are brought in from the fields for storage. Can I get a little Bringing in the Sheaves?

Feature of the Day: Steam Engine

This was the big attraction: the steam engine, or traction engine. What a cool machine! When the steam escaped, it was really loud, but B was still fascinated by it. It powered the thresher, as seen below:

Another shot of the ‘ol traction engine:

Courtesy of Howell Living History Farm

Threshing removes the wheat grain fromĀ  the stem of wheat. The wheat stems and chaff are blown up into the barn and later used for animal bedding. The grain is emptied into bags as it leaves the thresher.

I like the farmer on top of the hay

Bags of grain begin collecting on the trailer bed

The grains are so soft and fun to play with. B could not keep her hands out of the bin!

I wish I would have taken a picture of the winnower, a hand-powered machine that separates the chaff, dust, and other debris from the wheat grain. But the next process is grinding the wheat. We even got to sing our grinding song from our autumn circle!

Round and round the wheel goes round. As it turns the wheat is ground…

At the end of our trip, we had tasty wheat muffins baked with the wheat from the farm! We even got to take a bit home with us. This was an extra special trip because we got to enjoy the wheat festivities with some dear friends. That always makes for good times!

Thanks for reading, I hope this updated version comes through! (sort of had a premature publishing of this post- no pics or stories!)

Until next time,



Farm Days: Popcorn Harvest October 25, 2011

Filed under: Activities — parentsong @ 8:00 am
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During our latest trip to the local historic working farm, we got to learn about popcorn harvesting!

Ears of popcorn were picked in the field to be stored and dried for at least 18 months. The corn we shelled was from a few seasons back. The tiny kernels hold much tighter to the cob than feed corn. Plus, they have rougher edges, making the manual shelling process less than meditative.


The popcorn was heated in a metal popping box over an open flame. It tasted really popcorny- lots of flavor, and much better than store-bought. Yum!


And what would popcorn making be without a little song? I modified this traditional rhyme to work as a song. One day I’ll get the recordings up! Probably in five years, knowing my rate of accomplishing anything less than necessary.

Pop pop pop!
Pour the popcorn in the pot.
Pop pop pop!
Take and shake it ’til it’s hot.
Pop pop!
Lift the lid, what have you got?
Pop pop pop pop!

The pops are loads of fun and great as a fill-in-the-blank if singing with a minimally verbal child. Pop was one of Briony’s first words, thanks to songs!

Happy popping!


Monday Nature Walks October 23, 2011

Filed under: Activities,Homeschool — parentsong @ 9:38 pm
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Monday is our day to spend time outside in nature. We don’t have a yard or even a neighborhood that we can easily walk around in, but we live in a nature-rich area. A quick trip in the car can transport us to a variety of natural and historic landscapes. We also have the option of longer trips- 45 minutes can get us more out in the wild. It really feels different in the northern part of the county.

This particular Monday trip was special because we skipped our usual morning activities in the home and jumped right in the car with a picnic lunch. This sounds really great, but with a toddler and baby, it was tricky. Nonetheless, a good time was had by all. We were gone for 5 hours, which is probably the longest trip I’ve done by myself with the children!

When we arrived at our destination, the mysteriously fascinating Ringing Rocks park, we had our circle time in the forest and headed out for our adventure.

At the start of the trail, a few rocks sprinkled the path. Briony made sure to climb each and every one. The large photo below is a nice image of the forest on the over-cast day we were there. I love the large rocks that pop up all over the ground amongst the trees and smaller brush.

Atop a large boulder

As we walked closer to the field of rocks, the rocks on the trail got bigger and bigger. This meant more and more climbing fun for Briony.


What a Wonderful Summer It Was September 10, 2011

Filed under: Activities — parentsong @ 11:19 pm
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Now that my preschool planning is coming together a bit (though I’m not completely ready), I thought I’d take a minute to reflect on this past summer. It was quite nice since it was not blistering hot for three months straight. August was cool and wet (photos of the flood coming soon). I don’t think we used our A/C at all! I bet PECO won’t give us a break, though… Anyway, here are a few photos to capture our laid-back summer:

Many walks in the wildflower preserve

Shady spots for sitting and playing together

Warm rainy days filled much of August

Endless playground play

Of course, feeding ducks from an old lock on the canal

Warmimg up to the water

Daddy pushes G in his shaded floatie.

I think I should note that Gabriel is SUCH a water baby! He is so relaxed in the water and would splash and play until he crashed. He loved relaxing in this little float, too. We joked that he was like that guy in the pool in the Orbitz commercial. Just chillin’.

B calls this "digging up the road" as she works hard in the sand

G explores grass- a favorite of his

That’s it for now!

Happy Sunday!



Farm Days! July 24, 2011

Filed under: Activities — parentsong @ 9:48 am
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We are fortunate to have a really fantastic “living history” farm near us. It is preserved by the county and therefore free to go and visit! They keep sheep, work horses, a cow, chickens, two massive oxen, pigs, and a happy family of geese. The educational component of the farm is amazing. I have learned so much about 19th century farming! They continue to run the farm using simple machines, animal, and human hands. Here are a few snapshots from our trips there.

Briony watches the sheep graze

Briony and Daddy help find fresh eggs

I learned that chickens lay eggs whether a rooster is around or not. If the rooster is not there, the eggs aren’t fertile. I never knew it! This farm keeps one or two roosters. They use the eggs to bake on the weekends.

Children fill water buckets from the well

Pumping water from a well is hard work for little hands! After all the children filled their buckets, they took it around the barn to the big work horse who was resting. She enjoyed the fresh water.

Cooling off with a nice mud bath

I think these are Greylag geese, but I cannot remember. They are pretty birds.

Wool hanging in the barn

This is the first time I’ve seen wool hanging like this. I suppose it keeps it off the floor.

Briony with her friend, Aly, watching the rooster. Briony also calls roosters cockerels, which is the English term.