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.
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.