On Wednesday 17 October 2018, Class 3 went on their first camp. The camp was at Bloublommetjieskloof Biodynamic Farm in Wellington.We travelled to the farm with EZ Shuttle. The journey went smoothly and before we knew it, we were there.
On arrival we were met by Rein and his twins – Finn and Oren. They were to be our guides for the next two days. We were shown to our accommodation – a loft above the barn. The children were given an opportunity to unpack and choose a bed. Then off we went downstairs, where we enjoyed orange slices, dates and peanuts. The class was divided into groups and were given a treasure hunt list to accumulate: something soft, something straight, something precious, etc. Once we completed the treasure hunt, Rein took us on a walk around the farm. We were introduced to all the people who worked on the farm: Wendy, James, Tarevingo and some of the infamous residents such as: Gorgeous George (pig), Ruby, Sapphire, as well as three horses and many cows. Once our tour was complete, we enjoyed a delicious lunch of bread, cheese and salad (all produce from the farm).
The class was divided into three groups. David, Derek (Daniel’s dad) and I took the children together with the workers to do various activities, which were rotated over the days we were there. The 1st activity was harvesting. We were taken by tractor to the fields, where we used a sickle to reap the barley. The barley was placed in bundles ready to feed the cows and horses later.
After the hard work in the hot sun, we made a pitstop on the return trip at the dam for a quick dip to cool down.
Back at camp, we had a small snack and then set off to herd the animals in for the evening and feed them. We were then given some free time to play in the garden, climb the magnificent oak tree or sit and chat on the many benches overlooking the farm before dinner. Dinner was a variety of curries, vegetable, chicken or beef. Dessert was a scrumptious berry ice cream.
After dinner, we donned warm jackets and then armed with our torches, set out on a night walk. We went up a steep hill – the fire flies helped light the path. In a clearing in the forest, we sat down and rested. Gazing up at the clear night sky, Rein told us stories about the Bushmen, the moon and the stars. The decline was thrilling as it was down the side of the mountain (not the path). Children compared it to a supertube slide. Back at camp we had hot chocolate before retiring for the night.
Next morning was an early start (6 o’clock!). We enjoyed tea and rusks before setting off to feed the animals and lead them off to pasture. Once done, we had breakfast; the options were porridge, muesli, double-cream yoghurt, plum compote as well as eggs and bread.
Having filled our bellies, we were ready for the smelly day’s work ahead. We scooped poop into wheelbarrows and carried some to the compost pile. It was hot, smelly work, but the children embraced it with much gusto. Once done, we washed up, had some free time to play before lunch was served. Lunch was, in the words of Roald Dahl, the most “scrumdiddlyumptious” vegetable burgers.
After lunch, we set off to work again. This time it was in the cool of the dairy. We slipped on aprons, hair nets and washed our arms well. We made butter. It was surprisingly easy:
• Place full cream in a bottle.
• Shake till thick and clots form.
• Rinse the clots with fresh water until the water runs clear.
• Take the clots out, kneed in a little salt.
• Shape the butter to your liking and package.
We had some fruity snacks and then very excitedly made our way down to the dam for a swim. At the dam, you could splash in the water, sit on the banks or try the rope swing into the water. If that was not enough excitement, there was the added opportunity of horse riding – a lovely way to spend the warm summer afternoon.
Upon our return, the children were given some free play/ nap time. After our rest, we herded the animals back into the barn and fed them, in preparation for their rest. Then it was our time to eat. Dinner was a delicious pasta served with cheese and salad. It was very filling, but we managed to save some space for the creamy blueberry cheesecake that was dessert!
After dinner we showered, put on our pajamas and came back to the garden area to play “Find the Lantern”. The children enjoyed the game thoroughly and were rewarded with some rich hot chocolate. Tummies lined with this warm comfort, ensured that eyes closed and sleep descended quickly in the loft.
Friday dawned – our last day had arrived. We had our tea and rusks before heading off to milk the cows. Lucia and her friends patiently stood still and gazed at us with their large brown eyes as we learnt the art of milking. To firsthand experience, this experience was amazing and will forever stay with us.
After another hearty breakfast, we were ready for the compost ceremony. Each school/ class that attends the farm builds a compost mound. It is a very important job and is regarded with much reverence. These compost mounds filled with our hard work and energy will after all nourish the soil, which will in turn then yield an abundance of fruit and vegetables to use in the kitchen.
Once done, we made our way back to the loft, packed up, said our goodbyes and filed in to the shuttles to make our way home. The last words I heard on that Friday were: “Where are we going for our next camp, Miss Terry? I can’t wait.”