Kids experience daily farm life at Colorado ranch
Boulder, CO Colorado
BOULDER, Colorado – Who knew it could be this easy to get kids to do chores?
“Nathaniel, do you want to wash a sock?” Christine Cowles of Boulder called to her 3-year-old son, Nathaniel Biek.
“Yeah!” he answered, running over to the old-fashioned washboard.
“Now scrub,” said volunteer Sue Rehage, standing nearby in a bonnet and frontier gown. “Scrub, that’s right!”
It’s all in a 19th-century day’s work – at least, at Walker Ranch west of Boulder, where 21st-century kids got the chance late last month to see what chores looked like 120 years ago.
“The parents are just in awe,” chuckled Pascale Fried, the education and outreach coordinator for Boulder County Parks and Open Space, as the kids lined up to scrub clothes, or churn butter, or plant potatoes. “I’ve had parents say, ‘We are buying a washboard!'”
Making the past new is part of what Walker Ranch is about these days. Located about seven miles into the mountains, the ranch was owned and run by the Walkers from 1882 until 1950. The land has been owned by the county since 1976 and is mostly used for “living history” demonstrations, showing visitors what life was like in the 1880s and 1890s.
For some people, Fried said the demonstrations touch even closer to home.
“With the parents … it triggers a memory of ‘My parents used to talk about that,’ or ‘My grandparents on the farm did that,'” she said.
Of course, doing things the old-fashioned way had its special challenges. For example, volunteer Carrie Williams noted, buttons had to be taken off a dress before running it through the wringer and then reattached.
Still, no amount of reality could spoil the fun during the recent visit.
“You know, when he’s 12, you’re going to be asking ‘Will you please just do it?'” Williams teased Cowles as Nathaniel continued to get his ‘laundry’ clean.
“This cracks me up,” Cowles said. “But it gives me ideas. I’ll have to find a way to make a fun activity out of it.”
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