Permaculture in Action

Monday, August 12, 2013

Age and Gender Appropriate

Up until a couple of weeks ago all our birthday parties here on the farm have been for young girls. It seems that girls are more attracted to these sorts of parties or maybe they are less attracted to the alternatives. More often than not these girls have some boys as guests or have a brother or two. All children so far from one to ten have enjoyed being on the farm and fully engaged in all activities.

A few weeks ago we had our first boy's birthday. This boy turned 9, our eldest birthday child so far. He had an eleven year old boy cousin as a guest and some 9 year old friends. Boys! Vicki and I decided they needed something a little more adventurous for their party, and so along with the usual feeding of the animals and the collecting of the eggs, we built a camp fire. We built it up and then while we were on our walk it died down to just hot coals and we cooked dough boys.

Mark made a simple bread dough and the children rolled it into long sausage shapes and then twisted the dough around a long stick . They then sat around the campfire on logs and cooked their dough.

 Once it was cooked it was removed from the stick and honey, from the farm, was drizzled into the hole. While they were cooking hot chocolate was warming in the coals and was a tasty treat to have with the bread. From the youngest four year old to the eleven year old, the day was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

On Saturday we had a party for a seven year old boy. Once again we collected eggs, fed Sir Bowie Charles, the little pony, with some carrot sticks. We fed the ducks, geese and chickens some stale bread. Had a lovely afternoon tea and then Vicki told a story about sunflowers and bees,

....which led us to the days craft activity. We made newspaper pots which we filled with potting mix. The children then added a sunflower to their pots.

These were their take home gift to plant in their own garden. There was also a little jar of honey to take home too. Once again they were fully engaged with all activities.

 As the boys ate their cake around the fire pit, I asked them about their time spent on the farm. They were very enthusiastic in their replies, taking it in turns to tell me what was their favourite part of the day.

These were ordinary boys exposed to a very wide range of worldly activities. Sometimes I am asked  when will we be playing party games, or when will they get their party bags or where are the sausage rolls and party pies, but when I explain that this party is about being on a farm and tasting different sorts of foods they all accept my answer, shrug their shoulders and off they go. They love it here. They love the party. I often hear the children say to their parents that they wished they lived here.

So I was very sad when a mother of a seven year old boy rang and cancelled their party. The mum had been very enthusiastic about the farm party. She was so excited to have found something which embraced her ideals, she had prepared the farm inspired invitations, and her son was looking forward to bringing his friends to the farm to celebrate his birthday....until the day that one of his classmates said that it was girly. This little boy had had his own birthday at laser tag where, in a darkened room, children were able to shoot at each other. That was his idea of a birthday and to him the idea of a farm party was feeble. I felt very sad for the birthday boy and his family. They gave into the bully and missed out on a party that is not only age and gender appropriate, but the first choice for the little boy.

Parents have chosen the farm parties for their children for various reason. Some choose it because of the food, some choose it just so their children can interact with the animals, and some choose it because they are sick and tired of the hyped up, inappropriate parties that seem to be popular at the moment. I'm sad for those who lack the strength to be strong for their children, but rejoice in the many who do.


  1. Kate I so agree with you. Just wish that you were closer so that my grandchildren could experience this. Alas Qld is a bit far from you. Keep up the good work!
    Cheers Karen near Gympie.

  2. Super Dooper Boy's & Girls Party. I love campfires and i take my 16 years old son out of the city to a property where we can make bonfires and get dirty. Must remember to take the dough ingredients next time.

  3. My son, age 6 would love your farm party and he is a tough (and sensitive) free range Jindabyne kid. His dad taught him how to use a match at 5 and half because he wanted to learn and fire is a part of our daily life in winter. I believe that is a good coming of age experience for a boy (or girl) but 7 is way too young for laser tags. I think people get confused about boys and think violent games represents their masculinity but doing things in nature is what makes them true boys. I only wish we lived closer!

    1. Oh yes you have articulated that very well. Thanks.

  4. Seriously. Some parents. What is it that they fear? So what if the farm parties were "girly" - not that they seem in any way to be. What are they scared of about their young boy experimenting with "girl things"? That he might find something he likes and becomes passionate about? That he might turn into "one erf doz dem der homowsexuralz"? Perhaps boys should be introduced to more, so it would seem, "sensitive" concepts. Perhaps that would alter an awful lot of what is rife amongst the male portion of the population.

    /end of rant

    Love the site! :)

  5. All I can say Kate is that I feel sorry for that little boy. He missed out on what would of been a fantastic birthday party. Jessie had a farm party here this year and she had such a great time she wants her party next year to be exactly the same. Nothing fancy just good food, friends, family and of course the animals:) Keep up your great work Kate!

  6. Lovely post. You two are doing such a great job there, in so many respects.

  7. The camp fire for boys is a brilliant idea. I know my son would be right in to that. We probably do the more traditional cake and games type of parties for our children, but the event is always held at home with home made games and food.

    I do find it interesting when I hear children say things like "wish we lived on a farm". It makes we wonder how many, if not all, children would like a simpler yet more adventures life. My children have even asked if we could live in a tent and cook on a camp fire every day.

  8. We loved the birthday party you did for us on Sunday. It was a beautiful day and everyone went home happy. Nobody had a tantrum from hyperactivity and junk food. It was simple and beautiful and I'm very glad you are doing these parties! Karen.

  9. Does farm work constitute as girly nowadays? The boy who proclaimed such outrage, doth protest too much, me thinks. ;)