Tuesday, 19 July 2016

That Time Grammy Got Out of Hand: A visit to Ross Farm

In Nova Scotia, it seems as though a visit to Ross Farm is a rite-of-passage for elementary school kids across the province. For some reason, I seem to have missed this field trip in my early years, and as a result it has been on my provincial bucket list.

A few weekends ago, I spent some much needed/overdue time with my Grandmother. Usually we end up in Mahone Bay or Chester or both. During the weekend I was visiting, however, it was rainy, and we decided it was a sign to do something a bit different - shake things up. Given my intro paragraph, I'm pretty sure you've probably figured it out... we went to Ross Farm.

For anyone not from Nova Scotia, Ross Farm is a working farm and one of the province's many awesome museums. It opened in 1969, and ever since has been teaching countless* tourists about farm life in the 1800s. The farm itself began in 1816, when Captain Ross set up shop.

The grounds of the farm are a mixture of old buildings, fields boasting a variety of vegetables, a bit of pasture, and of course a handful of staff donning period clothing**. Luckily for us, there weren't many people there - likely because of the weather - so, it gave us ample time to slowly wander and enjoy the visit (both with each other and on the farm).

Upon entering the farm, you are given a pamphlet with a map, so you know the lay of the land. I learned that it is not necessarily to scale. This means, there were some things that looked very far away, but weren't and others that looked really close, but were actually much further. Then there was the whole me leading Grammy off the beaten path, into a field of shiiirt animal droppings... but I digress...

The first stop is the newly added eduction centre. This is the first building you enter and is actually where you pay your (minimal) entrance fee. I loved this because there was a bunch of art work from elementary students depicting what food meant to them. And there were crazy things - drawings, hand-sown plush fruits and veggies, even a few mobiles***. Each of the items was accompanied by the reason the individual had created what they did and why it was important. It gave me hope.

Then we made our way to the schoolhouse. This is a one-room structure, that was actually built in 1907 and was (somehow) transported to its current site for the purposes of the museum. Some of the books that were on the bookshelves inside seemed really interesting - my favourite being How do Plants Grow, which I thought could be useful for today's generations (young AND old!).

Outside shot of the schoolhouse.
Inside the one-room schoolhouse. 
The next stop was Ross Barn, which housed a number of animals both outdoors and in, as well as a museum of agricultural tools - some of which they still use on the farm today. Well, some of the same tools are used, not the ones on display. This was interesting, as I'd seen a few of them still in use today during my travels in both Ghana and Uganda. I still for the life of me cannot understand how people can use a hand hoe to till large areas of land. I have such a respect for anyone who can physically do so for more than the 5 minutes I was tasked to do so during a farm visit in Northern Ghana! It's hard work!

Some of the animals chillin' outdoors. There was the most enormous pig I've ever seen, along with some sheep and a few horses.
After a walk through the barn, I noticed a nice view of the river that was behind the farm. I convinced Grammy to head in that direction so I could snap a photo (which does not even remotely show what I saw!), and is the moment we set off course in to the poo poo patch. But before that, we visited Rose Bank Cottage - built in 1817 - learned about how steep stairs used to be back in the day, sans railings, and ate molasses cookies. As Grammy noted, we'd worked up quite an appetite! Next to the Cottage is an old store. 

A panoramic shot of inside the shop!
The view that led us to the poo!
Our final walking destination was to the mill. Unfortunately it was not in operation at the time of our visit, but it was still neat to take a look around. It also gave a really pretty view!

View from the Mill.
And then, my favourite moment of the entire visit - I convinced a very reluctant Grammy to go on a horse wagon ride! She was not sold on this idea in the least. But throughout the visit in my annoying, yet adorable way, I repeatedly told her how we were going to do this. At first, I thought it had been this magic of mine that convinced her, but now I know she was secretly on board the whole time. For, you see, we were the second family/group in the line up for the next trip. A family with 3 small children came a few minutes after us. Well, when the wagon returned, and the participants of that trek vacated, the small children got a little excited and "cut the line"... 

(pause for suspense and comedic effect!)

And Grammy was having none of it! You should have seen her! She was pushing them out of the way like a mad woman hoping to get the last Malibu Stacey doll on Christmas Eve! But that's not even the best part. In my shock, I ended up being the last to get on, and she's calling out to me I saved you a seat, right here! while patting the empty part of the bench next to her, with a big 'ol grin! That's my grandmother! 

Anyway, the ride was fun. It took us to the two spots we didn't get to walk to - the blacksmith and the cooper shop. We had the option to hang back and look around, but Grammy was feeling pretty tired (probably for pushing small children out of her way in order to score prime wagon bench real estate!). Instead we sat back, relaxed and enjoy the 15-20 minute trek throughout the farm grounds and into the woods a bit along the water. 

The only disappointment of the whole experience was that there wasn't a cafe on-site. There are biscuits and tea/coffee for sale in the gift shop, but that was not going to quiet our rumbling bellies. This of course, was easily fixed by paying a visit to my favourite provider of nourishment - the Kiwi Cafe in Chester!

If you haven't been to either Ross Farm or the Kiwi - do yourselves a favour and go. I mean, it doesn't hurt that the Kiwi serves Java Blend coffee, but also it's just delicious. And the farm is a fun interactive adventure for any family, no matter what ages! Heck! Go by yourself!

When we arrived back home, we both surprised ourselves by taking a 2-hour 10 minute nap****. Afterwards, I took a stroll down by the waterfront to see if any of the blueberries were ready for eating (nope!), and to check out the progress of the new turnoff. It was so calm and peaceful, and it made me disappointed to not have my kayak! Oh well! Next time!

A few shots from the bay!

I'm back for another weekend of adventures in a few days, so who knows where that will take us this time!

-the Orange Canadian

*approximately 25 000 per year according to their Facebook page.
**that is, time relevant attire.
*** the usually colourful and fun shapes held together that dangle over a baby's crib, not the cellular variety!
****that is, we intended to just close our eyes for 10 minutes, but woke up 2 hours later! Apparently it wasn't just an appetite we worked up!

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