Down on the farm
Published 9:50 am Friday, September 23, 2011
OAKLAND — Third-graders from schools with territory in Freeborn County got an inside peek Wednesday and Thursday into the ins and outs of farm life at three farms across the county.
For some of the students, it was the first time for them to be on a farm and to see the daily operations that take place there.
“It was pretty fun,” said Brynn Pederson, a United South Central student.
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Though Pederson has milked a cow before, she said she enjoyed trying it again Thursday without any kind of machinery.
Pederson was one of more than 50 children from the USC school, along with others from New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva and Glenville-Emmons schools to participate in the tours on Thursday.
The tours were put on by the agricultural committee of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce.
The groups took turns rotating on three different farms in eastern Freeborn County: Larry Reynen’s potato farm, Gary Braaten’s hog farm, and John and Dick Miller’s dairy farm.
On Wednesday, students from the Albert Lea elementary schools of Hawthorne, Halverson, Lakeview and Sibley, along with students from St. Theodore Catholic School, toured the farms.
“I think it’s great,” said paraeducator Stephanie Newman, who was with the United South Central students Thursday. “A lot of these kids have never seen a farm, been on a farm. It’s a good experience for them. A lot of them live in town.”
At the Miller’s dairy farm, where there’s more than 300 animals, the students were split into two groups.
While one group filed into an area where they learned how to milk the cows, the other students got to take turns feeding baby calves. Then they switched.
A handful of students covered their noses and let out shrieks after smelling the animals at the milking station and then let out shrieks again after feeling how warm the milk was after it came out of the cows — a little different than the cold milk that can be bought in a store.
“I thought it was kind of cool,” said student Josie Schumann. “When you squeeze it, it gets empty and then fills back up again.”
When the students fed the calves using a large bottle, they found out quickly just how strong the animals were.
Many had to hold their feet steady or the calf would pull the bottles out of their hands. When they got done feeding the calves out of the bottles, some of the students fed the animals some other grains or let them chew a little on their fingers.
That was Nancy Picardo’s favorite part.
Student Kylie Niebuhr pointed out the heart shaped design of fur on one calf’s head.
Tami Jensen, chamber operations manager, said this was the 20th year for the farm tours. About 450 children participated.
“It’s just so fun to see their expressions when they see stuff — when they get to pick potatoes, see the baby calves and see the pigs,” Jensen said.
The visits were also sponsored by Cargill Aghorizons.
Click here to see a video.