Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Gateway Elementary, Ag-STEM school

In 2015, Gateway Elementary in St Johns was designated as an Ag-STEM (agriculture, science, technology, math) school.

This school year, each class was given a farmer, and Kris and I are the fourth graders' farmers.  It's been fun going in to see them this year, and they're going to tour our place, too.

Recently, they had a kindergarten music program put on by Mrs. Shirley Ries.  It was all farmer-focused! They asked me to come to the concert so they could recognize a class farmer and gave me nice fruit and animal-shaped cookies.

I didn't realize how farmy it would be - they sang things like 'The Milk Bucket Boogie', complete with milking motions.  It was very dairy and farming-positive!  And of course, when aren't kindergartners cute?!

Yesterday the fourth grade teachers Mrs. Jennifer Parker and Mrs. Natalie Berkhousen asked me to come in and read to their classes for March is Reading Month.  But they didn't want me to read farming books like I'd done before - they asked me to read the children's book I wrote, Sawyer in the Woods.  It was so fun! The kids were so attentive and had a million questions and comments afterward.  Thank you Gateway teachers for fostering the farm-school relationship!


Meanwhile on the farm, we started drying up cows today.  That means we quit milking them so they can get ready to have their calves.

We have a list of cows that need to be dried up based on their due dates.  So we give them about two months before their calves are going to be born.  We sort them out of the regular milking group, milk them one last time, then use antibiotic on each teat to keep their udders healthy.  Since we stop milking them, we don't want them to get mastitis.  (And we will not be milking them again until they give birth, so there is no chance the antibiotic will still be in their systems when we milk them again.)

We then we put them in their own separate group and give them their own special feed.  We spray paint a leg so that we can easily see who is supposed to be in which group.

Again, it's based on due dates, so today we did 14.  We'll dry up more groups once a week until they've all ready to go!

It was really nice seeing Kris this winter ... and for the first time this summer, our oldest boys are going to be old enough to do calf chores.  Evergreen Dairy and Brothers, coming up.

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