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Hallockville Museum Farm

Photo from Hallockville Museum Farm

Experience old-fashioned North Fork holiday traditions during the Historic Christmas event at Hallockville Museum Farm, 6038 Sound Ave., Riverhead on Sunday, December 4 from noon to 3:30 p.m. Holiday displays in three historic residences on the 28-acre preserved farm will be staffed by costumed docents welcoming guests and sharing stories of past holiday celebrations. Historic Christmas at Hallockville is free and open to the public as the Museum Farm’s holiday gift to the community.

The Hallock Homestead, a mid-eighteenth-century structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will be decorated for a Victorian Christmas. Visitors may tour the residence while enjoying the aromas of holiday treats being baked in an antique wood stove as they learn how Christmas came to the North Fork primarily as a secular celebration.

At the Cichanowicz Farmhouse, guests will enjoy a Christmas Eve celebration as it would have been experienced by Polish immigrants to the North Fork in the 1930s, when the house was built. In Polish culture, Christmas Eve is a major holiday, highlighted by a special dinner, gift-giving and other traditions.

The Hudson-Sydlowski House will feature a display of dollhouses from the museum’s collection decked-out for the holidays. The exhibit will also include a two Victorian dollhouses loaned by Bonnie Zulli as well as a Christmas dollhouse, a miniature farmstand and several room vitrines loaned by Jeff Hallock and Debbie Bowen created by their parents, Norman and Joan Hallock.

For further information, call 631-29805292 or visit www.hallockville.org.

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Meet Stella the Cow at Hallockville Museum Farm's Winter on the Farm program. Photo courtesy of Hallockville Museum Farm

By Tara Mae

Suffolk County families looking to give their children engaging educational opportunities during February break have a number of options from which to choose. Local organizations, such as the Huntington Historical Society, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, Sweetbriar Nature Center and Hallockville Museum Farm are offering wonderful programs this year.

Huntington Historical Society

The Huntington Historical Society will host a Winter Break Camp for children in grades 2 to 6 on February 22 and February 23 at the David Conklin Farmhouse, 2 High St., Huntington from 9 a.m. to noon. Participants will learn about local history through activities, play and crafts, according to Education Coordinator Ivy Van Wickler.  

“During our February camp, kids will participate in a variety of hands-on history activities, including learning traditional weaving techniques on our shaft looms, as well as fun President’s Day crafts and games. The children will have the opportunity to handle historical artifacts, including toys. We will play games and there will be a different craft each day with the focus on the only two sitting presidents [George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt] who visited Huntington,” said Van Wickler. 

The cost is $35 per child per day, $30 members. Pre-registration is required by Feb. 18. A snack for the children will be included each day. Masks are mandatory and social distancing will be observed. Call 631-427-7045 ext 404 or visit www.huntingtonhistoricalsociety.org.

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will offer two winter workshops for children in grades K through 4 on Feb. 21 and 23 from 10 a.m. to noon. 

On Feb. 21 children will tap into their inner artists with a workshop titled Portraits & Mixed Media Collage “Selfie.” Partcipants will tour the historic mansion and examine Vanderbilt family portraits. Using the images as inspiration, they will then employ paint, paper, yarn, clay, and other materials to create individual self-portraits, according to Associate Director of Education Beth Laxer-Limmer. 

Bulb Botany and Winter Blooms on Feb. 23 will also provide interactive engagement for attendees, encouraging them to familiarize themselves with the grounds and exhibits while studying flora and fauna.  

“In the wildlife dioramas, we will discuss what animals eat and how they get their food, then walk around the mansion gardens looking for plants and winter-blooming bulbs and discuss photosynthesis. Children will create a forcing vase out of a repurposed plastic water bottle,” Laxer-Limmer said.

Tickets are $20 per child and all participants must be masked. To register, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org or call 631-854-5579.

Sweetbriar Nature Center

Sweetbriar Nature Center, 62 Eckernkamp Drive, Smithtown will host Winter Discovery Days from Feb. 21 to Feb. 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Designed for children ages 5 to 11, each day of the program incorporates a different natural science theme, with time spent both indoors at the headquarters and barn or outside on the grounds. The activities are curated to encourage awareness and appreciation of the environment. 

Meet Turnip the Screech Owl during Winter Discovery Days at Sweebriar. Photo by Veronic Sayers.

“Kids generally don’t spend a lot of time outside in the winter; we help them discover nature in the winter. For the parents, many of whom may not be off of work, we have the kids during school hours,” said Program Coordinator Veronica Sayers .

Featuring 54 acres of garden, woodland, wetland, and field habitats on the Nissequogue River, Sweetbriar’s winter camp facilitates its mission to offer natural science education and native wildlife rehabilitation.

Ambassador animals, which are wild animals who are generally unable to be rereleased into the wild and include owls, squirrels, hedgehogs, etc., will visit with the campers. “The kids will do at least one craft a day. Sometimes we’ll have them interacting with the animals or playing games, doing scavenger hunts and exploring with their senses,” Sayers added. 

Children may be registered for one, two, three, four, or all five days of Winter Discovery Days. Masks will be worn indoors. The cost is $75 per day or $325 per week for members; $85 per day or $375 per week for nonmembers. For more information, visit www.sweetbriarnc.org or call 631-979-6344.

Hallockville Museum Farm

Hallockville Museum Farm, 6038 Sound Ave., Riverhead a non-profit educational farm, and Farm Hands, a program created to enable hands-on outdoor learning opportunities for young people, have collaborated for Winter on the Farm, a program tailored for children ages 5 to 10 from Feb. 21 to 25 from 9 a.m. to noon. 

Through a tour of the farm and experiential learning, the students will learn about Long Island agriculture as it was hundreds of years ago and as it is today. 

Situated on 23 acres, nineteen historic houses, outbuildings, and barns are preserved on the land; cows, chickens, and other farm animals reside at Hallockville. 

Farm tours will include equipment, outbuildings, and the Hallock Homestead and the Hallock Barn, structures that are more than 250 years old. Camp activities will highlight 19th century farm chores and entertainment, like collecting maple sap for syrup, churning butter, and playing historic instruments and games.

“The age-appropriate activities are based on the children’s abilities and designed to capitalize on the physical and historic resources at the museum farm. Activities will develop an appreciation of farming and local history while creating lasting memories for each camper. Campers will feed the farm animals, collect eggs, and get the farm ready for spring,” said Director and Head Teacher of Farm Hands Jessica de Vera Wells said. 

Proof of negative COVID tests will be required prior to arrival on the first day of camp and temperature checks and screening questions will be administered daily. Masks are required for all indoor activities. Prices is $300/week, $75 per day for drop-in if available, $25 discount for additional sibling for full week only. To register, visit www.hallockville.org or call 631-298-5292.

Photo from Hallockville Museum Farm

Hallockville Museum Farm, 6038 Sound Ave., Riverhead holds its annual Museum Yard Sale fundraiser on Saturday, June 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Shop for kitchen goods, home decor, small furniture items, tools and equipment, antiques collectibles and other treasures. All proceeds benefit Hallockville. Call 298-5292 or visit www.hallockville.com.

Photo from Hallockville Museum Farm

By Ellen Barcel

Say New York and most people think of skyscrapers or suburbia, but, yes, Suffolk County leads the state in the value of its agricultural sales. Its history as an agricultural county goes back to the earliest colonists.

Actually, it even goes back beyond that to the Native Americans who grew corn, beans and squash before the European colonists arrived. And what goes with farms? — animals that provide farmers with meat and fiber for their clothing.

This coming weekend, Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead will be holding its sixth annual Fleece and Fiber Fair. The event, held on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will have a variety of ongoing demonstrations and activities. Besides livestock and animal displays, there will be sheep herding and sheep and llama shearing.

Setauket resident Judianne Davis-Van Nostrand will be demonstrating herding of sheep with her dogs at the fair. “I fell into it,” she said. “I was a zookeeper [whose] love for animals was prominent. I got my first border collie about 10 years ago,” she added. But, she wondered, what would a border collie be without sheep to herd. A farmer gave her dog Lucy an instinct test for herding. She failed the first two, but the third was a charm.

Davis-Van Nostrand kept her first three sheep at Cornell Cooperative Extension. Half of her flock, which has grown considerably (she has 28 now), is at Hallockville. Last year, she and her business partner, Matt Pendleton, started Long Island Sound Sheep. “The sheep we have [Kathadin] are not wool sheep. These sheep are strictly bred for meat — they’re not gamey.” Kathadin sheep were developed in the U.S. for their superior meat quality. Davis-Van Nostrand noted that these sheep have hair, not wool, and therefore don’t require shearing.

But, being a shepherdess is not her main occupation. “I work at Stony Brook University in the Department of Neurosurgery doing Alzheimer’s research — molecular biology.” She added that her husband, William Van Nostrand, is a tenured professor at SBU where they are doing “basic science looking at the mechanism of Alzheimer’s disease.”  Davis-Van Nostrand is a senior research support specialist in the department. She said that being a shepherdess “is a part-time endeavor, also my passion. It fills my need to be outside.”  This very busy lady added “I [also] have a nine-year-old daughter.”

Her work in science becomes evident in looking at her second border collie’s name, TeeCA, standing for terms in the DNA molecule, thymine, cytosine and adenine. She just came back from England where she was helping a friend lambing his sheep. She brought with her the newest addition to her canine crew, a 15-week-old puppy named Fergie. All three of her dogs will be at the demonstration this weekend along with Pendleton and his herding dog Tilly.

Visitors at the fair will also see spinning, knitting, weaving, rug hooking and needle-felting demonstrations. New this year is a needle-felting workshop on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.. Advance registration is required for the workshop. The $22 workshop fee includes admission to the fair.

Doing a shearing demonstration of both sheep and llamas will be Long Islander Tabbethia Haubold-Magee of Long Island Livestock Co., one of the sponsors of the fair. The fair is also sponsored by Vogue Knitting. Proceeds from the fair will help to support the not-for-profit Hallockville Museum Farm.

The fair will also include historic tours of the farm as well as demonstrations of basket making and quilts.

Twenty vendors will be at the fair selling hand-crafted yarns, fiber arts supplies and finished products including soap made from the lanolin of sheep’s wool. Local food vendors will make lunch available, and the Hallockville Bake Shop will be selling homemade baked goods.

Hallockville Museum Farm is located at 6038 Sound Ave., Riverhead. Admission is $6 adults, $4 ages 5 to 12, free under 5. For further information, call 631-298-5292 or visit www.hallockville.com.