Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Lost Acres

Our area has another little gem that is not widely known.  It is Lost Acres.  Wildlife Action Upstate Chapter which is also known as the Hughston Resource Education Center is located at the Lost Acres facility.

I learned about Lost Acres a few years ago, but we never got to go on their exploration weekends.  Luckily a friend of ours decided to book a field trip to the facility and it worked in our schedule.

The field trip began with the Pledge of Allegiance and a brief overview of the facility and what was on the agenda.  The program is run by volunteers that are older ladies and gentlemen.  They come from all walks of life and take pride in teaching and sharing the natural world with the kids.

Our first stop of the tour happened to be skulls and skins.  The lesson focused mainly on animals local to the area.  Some of the skins we had seen before, but there were several new skins we had not seen close up.  They also had skins of animals not in the area that were nice to look at.  Little Man liked the shark jaws.

Next, we went on a nature hike.  We learned many interesting facts along the hike.  Our guide pointed out different vines, trees, shrubs, ground cover, ferns, mosses, etc.  The wooded trail is very nice and easy to walk.  There is so much to see and take in during the walk.  We even saw a lizard!

Muscadine vines

Blueberry bushes


Virginia creeper

Poison Ivy


American Holly

Burl on Poplar Tree

Ebony Spleenwort Fern


Rattlesnake plant

Huge White Oak

Netted Chain Fern

Cinnamon Fern



Once we finished the nature walk, the hosts showed the children a gun safety video.  Basically, it reinforced to 'if you find a gun, leave it alone and get a grown up.'  The video is aimed for a k5 to 2nd grade child.

After the video, the group got to build blue bird houses.  These are very nice and will last for years.  They had a great time building them.  Once finished with the houses, they learned about various types of birds and their songs.  We were told about how long ago people thought barn owls were ghosts.  After hearing the call of the barn owl, it is easy to understand why.

This was a very nice field trip.  We are so glad we finally got to visit Lost Acres and plan on returning soon.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Chautauqua: Voices of the Civil War: Longstreet's Assault at Gettysburg (Pickett's Charge)

The best way to teach history has been through reliving it.  Whether physically going to a place, listening to a reenactor, taking in a piece of art, etc. history was brought to life.  We absolutely love learning history this way.  Our county library and the Chautauqua group presented Voices of the Civil War: Longstreet's Assault at Gettysburg and we were privileged to attend the event with friends.

The event was to commemorate The Johnson Collection's placement of  The Battle of Gettysburg: Repulse of Longstreet's Assault by James Walker.  Walker was commissioned to paint the grand canvas by John Badger Bachelder.  Bachelder was a photographer and topographic artist of the Union Army.  After the Battle of Gettysburg, he conducted an on-site study of the scene.  His study was very intensive and gave Walker all the information he would need to depict the scene. The painting took on a life of its own travel throughout the United States.  We are very privileged to have the work displayed indefinitely in our community.  Click the here to see the painting and hear an audio presentation. 

Pat Grills portrayed four different Civil War characters from the Battle of Gettysburg – Confederate General George Pickett and Union General Winfield Scott Hancock – and two privates (one Blue, one Grey).  The characters were reflecting upon the battle 20 years after it had taken place.  It was very insightful and the children enjoyed listening to the characters.  

Between character changes, music of the Civil War was presented.  This was a nice touch to the program.  Each piece was introduced and background information was given.  We were delighted with The Battle Hymn of the Republic, sombered by Taps, intrigued with The Bonny Blue Flag, and remorsed with Home Sweet Home.  These songs helped to bring the feeling to the room of the boys in grey and blue.

We enjoyed our evening learning more about this moment of the Civil War.  We will definitely return and study the detail of the painting in the near future.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Latta Plantation Homeschool Medicinal Plants

We ventured up the road a ways to Latta Plantation.  The homeschool days they offer always seem to conflict with our schedule, but today it worked out.  We love Latta and their programs, so we knew the homeschool program should be worth the hour and a half drive.

Today's topic was medicinal remedies in the Carolina back-country.  We approach medicinal cures holistically in our family and this topic intrigued us.  Of course, with modern day science, we know what old remedies have merit and which ones don't.  Never less, it is always interesting to hear about the practices of old.

We started the tour in the Latta family home.  An older gentleman taught us about blood letting and leeches.  The kiddos weren't very fond of this treatment.  Although blood letting is no longer practiced today, leech therapy is still used.  We also learned about how people took worming medicines to rid themselves of internal parasites.  They kiddos thought that was amusing that people did this to themselves and not just their animals.

We then listened to a medicine show.  The medicine was typically alcohol and opium.  Of course, the ingredients were never listed on the bottles.  It was always advertised as a great healing potion.  It didn't really heal, it just relieved the pain.  Unfortunately, many people became addicted to the stuff and consumed more and more of it.  Many died from overdose of the magic cure.

We learned about different herbal tinctures, teas, and remedies.  The household garden was more than just vegetables on the plate at dinner time.  The foods that were grown had many medicinal properties and were used for that purpose when needed.  Other items were foraged in the wild and seeds were then planted to grow the plants in the garden area.

Back-country people had to be their own doctors.  Sometimes there may be only one doctor in the area and it could take weeks for them to come if needed.  If a wound was bleeding and wouldn't stop, they had to self cauterize it.  Fire was very important not only for heat and cooking, but for wound cauterization and sterilization.  Water borne illness was a top concern for the people.  Dysentery claimed many lives.  Boiling water could help prevent this, but the people did not know that.  Most made cheap alcohol from corn, sorghum, barley, etc. and drank it to keep from contracting dysentery.

Finally, we learned about the plowing process on the back-country farm.  Most people had a mule or horse to help with farm chores.  These animals were very valuable.  Farming was back breaking work and without a reliable mule or horse, it was nearly impossible to plant a garden.

We enjoyed our visit to the plantation and look forward to coming back.  We always learn something new.  We take a way an appreciation of what our ancestors went through in the 'good ol' days'.