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Published: Monday, 9/16/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Young crowd learns where butter used to come from — it’s not the store

Churning is age-appropriate; it’s a task kids often did

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Angela Metcalf, a Metroparks program production specialist, reads a story about a frontier girl in Wisconsin who used to help her mother churn milk into butter. Later the audience got its chance. Angela Metcalf, a Metroparks program production specialist, reads a story about a frontier girl in Wisconsin who used to help her mother churn milk into butter. Later the audience got its chance.
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Churn, churn, churn was the order of the day at Pearson Metropark's Johlin Cabin on Friday. Receiving it was a scrum of excited 3 to 5-year-olds, who crowded into the historic log house for a lesson on how butter was made on the frontier.

Bedford resident Paul Pirrone watches his daughter Tessa, 2, try out the churn at the Johlin Cabin at Pearson Metropark in Oregon. Mr. Pirrone, a Bedford Township trustee, said he wants his children to learn about the past. Bedford resident Paul Pirrone watches his daughter Tessa, 2, try out the churn at the Johlin Cabin at Pearson Metropark in Oregon. Mr. Pirrone, a Bedford Township trustee, said he wants his children to learn about the past.
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Teaching it was Angela Metcalf, program production specialist for the Metroparks of the Toledo Area, who dressed in a frontier period costume of the 1860s. Her purpose, she said, was to give the youngsters a sense of history and pique their curiosity about people who came before them, all the while providing some fun.

Making butter was a chore often assigned to young children, she explained. “A 3-year-old could do it. It didn't take strength or dexterity. All they had to do was push the plunger up and down,” she said.

For her program, the churning itself was not done in the log house set in Oregon’s Pearson North Historic Area on Seaman Road, and for good reason. “We do it outside because little ones tend to splash,” she explained before the start of the program.

She started at the very beginning of the process, with a cow, or rather, a bovine figurine that she held up.

“Why are we looking at a cow?” she asked.

“It makes milk,” replied a little voice.

Ms. Metcalf explained that milk also was used to make other foods, such as cheese and ice cream, but that today the focus would be butter. On the porch of the log home, which dates to 1867 and is named for the family of its former owner, she read a short story about a frontier girl in Wisconsin who lived in a similar home and helped her mother churn.

She then ran them through a children’s song that went:

“Churn, butter, churn

Churn, butter, churn

Peter’s at the garden gate

Waiting for a butter cake

Churn, butter, churn.”

Stephanie and Paul Pirrone of Temperance attended the program with their three children, Vinnie, 4, Tessa, 2, and Macy, 1.

“I think it’s great,” Mr. Pirrone, a Bedford Township trustee, said. “I love to bring the kids to events that show them how things used to be done.”

Allison Petras and her daughter, Bethany, 2, visited from West Toledo. “It’s a wonderful program,” she said. “We’ve done other Metroparks programs too.”

The children, it turned out, had short attention spans, and before long were more interested in exploring the log house and socializing with each other than churning. A white, yogurty material was the closest they and their parents came to making butter.

No matter. Ms. Metcalf said she planned to hold the program again.



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