Many of those who completed a youth internship last summer have been enjoying working as paid staff at events this fall at the farm. One thing our intern staff has requested, though, is a way to "level up", to specialize in some area that they found their greatest interest and strength in. This year we are opening our first apprenticeships - a maximum of four apprentices to one expert trainer.
We are working with our Youth Advisory Core to determine what areas most people are interested in. So far we know that there is a lot of interest in horsemanship, engineering, hard skills training, and land management. We are exploring more options as well such as beekeeping, chicken hatching and care, and animal husbandry.
Please reply with any ideas you might have for apprenticeships at the farm. We will have course offerings posted in February. Watch this space!
Thank you to all who came out and shared the day with us at ARK Farms during Family Farm Day. Over 500 people came to the farm for the first time, and we were so glad you came. Thanks a Million to all the volunteers who made it work so easily, and especially the group who travelled 7 hours from Centralia, Missouri, to serve the mission of ARK Farms - restoring people affected by adversity. Thank you, we can't thank you enough!
At ARK Farms we are not so clever that we think we know what young people want and need, but we know who to ask! We have open spots on our Youth Advisory Core for young people ages 11 to 18 to share their insights as stakeholders in the farm. We open volunteer hours almost every weekend so that they can gain experience and see where they would like to see changes, opportunities, or improvements. We literally design our programs for youth based on what the youth advisory core tells us.
If you or someone you know would like to be a part of this core group, click the "Contact" button and let the director know. It is a good opportunity to learn to collaborate with other people and to have fun inspiring new ideas that the adults in leadership take seriously.
Fun in the Sun! What a great time we have been having at the farm with groups of campers from all over. We have had visitors from Memphis, TN, Mississippi, and Louisiana so far this month. We have even had guests from the countries of Samoa and New Zealand! It has been so much fun.
Kids have had a blast flying off the pond swing into the water, riding horses, discovering their strengths on the swing course, and planting gardens to grow their own food at home. It has just been amazing. Check out the pictures on Facebook and Instagram for weekly updates!
I was feeding the ducks and chickens this week some particularly favored treats when I suddenly felt something leaning against my leg. It was little "Mocha" duck. She is an adolescent who was abandoned at the farm where her mother had been, and she has spent most of her life at ARK Farms. I reached down and handed her some food from my hand. She stayed right there, and while all the other critters were scampering around, jockeying for position to outwit the other bird out of their take, she was simply enjoying the ease and grace of staying close to me and having all the food she wanted without any effort.
I realized, sometimes that is how I am in life, running around out in the world trying to get what I want. When all I have to do is snuggle up to the source of peace and grace, and eat from the hand that feeds me. I got a lot of goodness out of that moment - just wanted to pass it on.
We have a new Lavender Muscovy Duck at the farm and boy is he good looking! We traded some special breed chicks that we have too many of for him and a few other ducks from his farm. He's got a cool mohawk so we call him Spunky Monkey.
Spunky has never been in a pond before. He was raised by a specialty animal breeder who takes great care of his animals, but doesn't have room for a pond. Whenever I can work to bring ducks in for their first swim, I get really excited! So Spunky came to ARK Farms and upon setting his feet down, he went right for the barn. It's funny, we had to teach this duck to be a duck! So I carefully herded him toward the pond for his first swim and GOSH you should have seen the boy go! He was so excited, bathing his full body for the first time ever, and he's a full sized duck. But he didn't stay in the water for very long, and then I realized it -- Spunky wasn't waterproof.
Ducks make an oil coat on demand for the purpose of swimming, but Spunky had lived out of water for long enough that he had given up using his. On top of that, he had never preened out his fluffy old down feathers and when they got wet they weighed him down (pardon the pun). So as much as Spunky loved his bath, he had some work to do.
Over the next two days we kept encouraging him back into the pond for a little at a time. He would get soaked, then come up to the edge to dry off and start rubbing his oil onto his feathers that his body was producing. On the third day I came to the pond and found piles of down feathers all pulled out and left on the pond bank. In the middle of the pond was Spunky and his new friends swimming and having a lovely time.
Sometimes life moves us from one season to another, and we have to learn to adapt. It might not be helpful to carry yesterdays customs and habits into today's new life. Sometimes that means digging out a skill that has gone dormant, or it could be that it's time to pluck out parts that once made you safe, but now they weigh you down. Take a note from Spunky Monkey, change means -- well - change. It's worth the effort to take off the old and make room for what is new. There is life out there!
This was today's early morning project. A lady had found this duck and rescued it from being stranded after a dog attacked it's mother nearby. She had the duckling in a box in her garage, but was aware that ducks are flock animals and need one another. We adopted the duckling and brought her to the farm where she quickly bonded with the rest of the flock and was able to warm up. She is doing really well, eating and getting swimming tips from the bigger birds. Will keep you posted!