Kids Farm Day at Matthews Living History Farm Museum

May 15th, 2015

“Mr. Scott, would we be doing this 100 year ago?”

“No”, I replied. “We would not have had that kind of time. But I like your question.”

The purpose of this annual event is to acquaint first graders from Grayson and Galax to the conceptual perspective that time and our place in it changes along with technology and how we adapt. David Hauslohner, the man behind the idea and president of the farm museum, explains to each busload of these kids, that 100 years ago, our lives would be so different to be hardly recognizable. Yet he champions the settlers’ abilities to educate themselves in all the arts and skills required to live an isolated life, from animal husbandry, plowing (behind a mule or ox), to tool making and creating their own clothing from fiber harvested from the livestock and plants. He further points out the fact that today’s educational regimen requires us to specialize, creating for many of us an uncomfortable distance between what is essential but hidden, and limits our understanding of where food comes from and where our connections between land and life are being compromised.


The day is arranged in 20 minute segments, with a variety of stations set out and around the farm…including an opportunity for the kids to see real live cows, horses, and pigs; experience historic yet live music along with some story-telling, black-smithing, gardening and insect identification.

BRDC’s contribution is based on instructing the kids in the value of pollinators. Our current agribusiness broad sweeping pesticide approach to controlling insect pests also impacts pollinators and other beneficial insects and arthropods, which did not happen 100 years ago. Simplistically, BRDC’s role is to explain that there are both ‘good bugs’ as well as ‘bad bugs’, and that we need to inform ourselves about this difference. Pollinators seemed to be the best example and approach.

So like last year, after an introductory chat about the value of pollinators and their role in agriculture, we headed out to the field with insect nets, viewing boxes, and ear-splitting enthusiasm. We were able to capture and identify small bees, flower beetles and other less farmer friendly insects such as grasshoppers and weevils. Enough variety including small spiders were present to give the kids an idea of what small animals co-exist with all that happens on a farm.

“Why would we not have the time?”, asks the inquisitive youngster. “Because in those days and by your age, you would be busy milking the cows, slopping the pigs, hoeing the garden or mending a fence. Not running around with a net looking for bugs. That would be considered silly and wasteful behavior.” Though, I thought to myself, there were certainly exceptions.