Monday, November 23, 2009

An apple a day means I drive all the way out to nowhere: Riley's Farm

Recently, I braved the freeways, with my G1 GPS (which, if you don't know, is trying to kill me) and my kids and I went with our homeschool group to Riley's Farm, for an amazing field trip. For those who don't know, Riley's Farm is located in Oak Glen, out by Yucaipa. It takes a little over an hour to get there from North Orange County. The roads are a bit windy, so make sure that you are nice and awake and your windshield is clean!

Once there, it is like stepping back in time. JBear was able to help press the apples and make apple cider. Apparently, the colonists also made hard cider, but of course, we didn't get any of that! The apples they used were a bit too soft, so they didn't let us drink it, since it wasn't pasteurized. As if I would, anyway. That little bit of history is a just a bit too authentic…no dysentery for us! Hard cider helped the colonists as it fermented and created good bacteria. It allowed them to eat all kinds of nastiness that would make us really ill. (you probably don't want to dwell on that).

The kids made candles, dipping the candle in the wax. In colonial times, each candle had to be dipped by hand, over and over, a very time-consuming process. The colonists boiled bayberries to get their wax. Bayberries had a low-smoke level, so they were ideal for candles. We, of course, just buy Yankee candles, and call it a day.

The kids played colonial games, hoop and stick, graces, played with a small hoop and two sticks (see a pattern here?) , and horseshoes. JBear was probably pining for his DS, but he never said a thing.

There was colonial music, as our guide treated us to some beautiful pennywhistle(also known as a "flipple flute" I didn't make that up!) renditions of "Star of the County Down." Since I love The Chieftains, and James Galway, I was only too happy to listen. Yeah, so I am old. Sue me. The kids got caramel apples, and we settled down under the shade of a large tree. The family dog was roaming around, and it was just a really nice place to be.

After our rest, the kids were able to practice writing with a quill. They agreed it would have been nice to be schooled in colonial times. Spelling didn't matter at all, what matter was how beautiful your penmanship was. Of course, that's where we part ways…writing with a quill is ridiculously hard! Once you get it down and your ink is somewhat even, you have to dip again. and, it blotches. Creating quills was a profession taking a skilled artisan. Quills usually came from geese or turkeys. Swan quills were used by the well-to-do. RSVP pens come from Office Depot. Right down the street. $3 for 2. I win.

Weaving was our next stop. Believe it or not, it was a man's job. The women carded the wool, and spun the thread, but the men wove it into cloth. Interesting fact: there weren't many spinning wheels, taxes were too high from Britain. Instead, they used a drop spindle. A simple loom isn't that hard to make. Have you ever heard the term "warp and weft?" It acutally comes from weaving. Warp is the yarn drawn side-to-side. Weft is the yarn drawn up and down. Weaving isn't that hard, and once you get to the end of the row, you go back and do the opposite of what you just did. Perfect for teenagers! And, if she made her own clothes, she would think twice before she just had to have that newest in-fashion shirt. I am so evil.

And of course we left just in time to hit traffic. I drove home, and we were starving. So I stopped to get us some lunch and afterwards, got lost trying to get back to the freeway. One thing about me, I am a smart cookie. But I am crummy with directions. Give me a choice, I will probably go the wrong way, which is a recipe for stress. My Google G1 GPS (which relies on Google Maps) was not helpful, and that made me anxious. I had missed one freeway, and was on another, because in Southern California, you can't get very far without using the freeway. But Google Maps? It didn't even recognize where I was to get me home. I had to call my JPS (JNerd Positioning System) so he could tell me how to find my way back to the place I belong. After sitting in traffic, I finally did pull into the driveway, and we were all pretty tired. We had a lot of fun. But I think we will stick close to home for a while!

T, who is very thankful for convenience

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