Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ag-STEM Gateway 4th graders visit their class farmers

Gateway North Elementary in St Johns is our Ag-STEM school (Agriculturally based in science, technology, engineering, and math.)  Kris and I are the fourth graders' farmers.  I've visited their class this year, and today it was their turn to visit us!

Jenn Parker and Natalie Berkhousen, fourth grade teachers (and my friends)!

They spent the morning learning at AgroLiquid, and then the 63 kids came to us for a tour.  (AgroLiquid also was kind enough to let us use their people movers.  It seemed much better than letting the kids walk, because ... well, it's a place where you might get shocked by a fence.)

The students loved the calves - including two that were born just this morning - and had lots of questions about them.

- Why don't you keep the boy calves and raise them to eat them?  (We don't have room or feed.)

- Why is the calf licking me?  (They're like babies with pacifiers, plus you taste salty.)

- Can we climb that hay? (No, it's straw, and we have to keep it nice to bed down the calves.)

On to the cow barn!  We all piled in the people movers and Mike, my dad Jack, and Kris drove.

Aren't they jolly?

We went in to see them, and the kids were delighted by cows' natural behaviors.  The cows were amazed at the sheer number of small people.  After we walked around and looked at them there, we reconvened for some more questions.

- Why does she have a ring in her nose?  (When she was young,  she tried to suckle other heifers' udders.  This ruins or infects the udders, and then they can't give milk.  If you put a light, hollow ring in her nose, it prods the heifers, and they won't let her do it.  It saves their udders and breaks her of the habit.)

- Do they go to the bathroom out of their udders? (No.  An udder is for milk, not for waste.)

- How many bulls per cow?  (25 cows to 1 bull - JUST like The Bachelor!  There must be something about that number.)

Then off to the milk parlor.  Since the cows were actually being milked, we took small groups and showed them the parlor.  I haven't done this with a large group before, but it went well because everyone got to see an actual milking in progress.

We headed back to the calf barn and the kids saw the calves one more time before getting a GoGurt from me and leaving on the bus.

I thanked each of the kids for coming, and they asked their last questions -

- Why on earth would you want a giant lagoon of manure? (When you store it you can apply the fertilizer at the exact right times of the year.)

- Are we going to go into that pasture with those cows? (No, but you can look at them from here and not get shocked by that fence.)

- What is your address?  Because I want to come here every day after school with my mom.  (Just tell her to go on this road and look for cattle.)

When I was in kindergarten my class took a field trip to my farm.  I remember how much I liked showing my farm to everyone ... that feeling hasn't faded at all.

Thanks to Gateway, Mrs. Parker, Mrs. Berkhousen, and the fourth grades!

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