Kiddie Farmyard will feature a live birth

Published 2:29 pm Saturday, July 30, 2011

In less than a week, children of all ages will converge on the Kiddie Farmyard during the “Six Best Days of Summer” at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds.

Jane Haukoos, superintendent of the Kiddie Farmyard, and her 14 volunteers, ranging from elementary school age to adults, are ready.

“Every year we have some of the same things,” Haukoos said. “This year we have some new animals.”

Held within the classic barn will be a young lamb. It will be the first time in several years that the farmyard will have a lamb, this one in particular will only be more than a week old. The lamb will be joined by an ewe, or a mother sheep.

Other animals that will be available at the farmyard will be a baby donkey, two calves — that may only be a week old — pygmy goats, a miniature horse and more.

At 6 p.m. every night Haukoos hopes to be able to hold a goat milking demonstration. In the past, members of the community have been able to experience milking the goats by hand, a tradition that she hopes to be able to continue this year.

On the opening night of the fair, the farmyard will host a rather unique event, the wonder of birth.

“We are going to be birthing piglets on Tuesday evening,” Haukoos said.

She added that there would be three pork producers there overseeing the event. They will also have a TV set up that will replay the births throughout the week of the fair.

Along the lines of birth, baby chicks will be hatching from their eggs daily.

After they hatch, the newborns will be placed in an incubator. Once matured they will be in an open area that with the help of volunteers children will be able to hold the chicks.

“It’s a big highlight of the fair every year,” Haukoos said. “We’re hoping it’s a big hit again.”

A giant board in front of the Kiddie Farmyard will display the complete events schedule for everyone who is interested.

Haukoos said a variety of other demonstrations will also be available. The pork ambassador Tyler Adix, the dairy princess Lindsey Miller and the beef ambassador are all expected at additional events during the fair. The lamb and wool ambassador, J.T. Rowe, will be there. She is not sure what he will be doing this year.

“Last year, they did lamb kabobs for people to taste, and then they made sheep crafts out of clothes pins for the kids,” Haukoos said.

The staff will also have puzzles and games to play with the kids. Haukoos said, “It’s really a hands-on kind of place.”

New this year will be a wheel that kids can win prizes by answering different farm questions correctly.

The volunteers will be recognizable by special shirts that they will be wearing. She said the volunteers are the only people that are to handle the animals. However petting the animals is allowed.

She said last year they were able to redo the inside of the farmyard building. Haukoos wanted to keep the old barnyard feel but update the interior. She said the project was funded through a brick purchase fundraiser.

They are planning to continue the brick fundraiser this year to help keep up with the costs of the farmyard. The bricks are displayed on a wall in the back of the barn. She said that they also accept donations from members of the community to help fund different projects.