Thursday, September 16, 2010

Smell That Dairy Air

We talk a lot about senses with our children. "What do you see?","How does it feel?", "What was that sound?", "How does it taste?", "What's that smell?" Visiting a dairy farm (for some), can be a sensory overload! Jaxon's PreSchool class visited a dairy this week on their very first field trip. And these little troopers got to experience first hand each and everyone of their 5 senses!

I have to admit, when Jaxon's teacher first told me that they'd be visiting a dairy for their first field trip, I was a little nervous! In the back of my mind all I could think was, "Please don't let it be Grandpa's dairy!" I was afraid if it were, when it came time to leave, we'd never get Jaxon back on the "bus"! Luckily, there are a few dairy's in our area and it was a relief to hear that they'd be touring a different one!

I was lucky enough to be able to tag along and see first hand how a tour is done for a group of 7 very curious young people. Mrs. Becky of Ohlde's Dairy, was nice enough to guide us through the process of how milk gets from the cow to the store. She started our tour w/ a look at the milk parlor. The kids were able to stand and watch as a group of Holsteins had their udders cleaned and milked. She passed out a piece that is placed on the teats, taken off of the actual milking machines for the kids to see and touch... Jaxon of course wanted to take this little souvenir home! (I reassured him that we could probably find him one at Grandpa's farm if he really liked it that much!)

Here is Jaxon holding the piece off the milking machine.

And while we are on the topic of teats, Mr. Jaxon gave me a very informative speech the other day about our heifer. While we were out checking our calves Wednesday afternoon, Jaxon informed me that "Mama" was needing us to milk her "teeth"! "You see her udder Mom?" She wants us to milk her teeth!" I explained to him that "Mama" isn't quite ready to be milked yet since she hasn't had a baby yet... he corrected me at that point and said that yes she had, all of the small calves in our pen are her babies! He'd even seen some of those babies getting milk from her "teeth"! How do you argue with that?!

After our tour of the milk parlor, Mrs. Becky took us into the bulk tank room. She had the kids feel a pipe that goes directly from the milkers to the bulk tank asking them, "does it feel warm or cold?", it felt warm. She then had them feel the actual tank and again asked what they felt, this time they felt cold since the milk is cooled in the tank. They were told all about how the milk truck comes to pick up the milk and takes it off to be shipped out to stores where we buy it.

Here are the kids listening to Mrs. Becky as she explains the process of cooling the milk.

Here are Jaxon, Mrs. Amy, Josh and Cody feeling the bulk tank.

Next, we were paraded back through the milk parlor and out to see where the milk cows sleep and eat. On our way out the kids were excited to see a few pieces of farm equipment... the combine was a BIG hit! When we got outside and into the free stall barn, I found it pretty hilarious that every time one of the cows pooped or peed the kids had to point it out... this happens a lot! Mrs. Becky talked to the kids all about what the cows are given to eat and drink and how much. She compared the amount of water they consume in a day to the amount that our bathtubs can hold! The kids were allowed to pick up the silage and sift through it to see what was in it.

This is the entire class w/ their teacher & our tour guide, Mrs. Becky.

While we were visiting the free stall barn, the kids were lucky enough to watch as a worker bedded down some fresh sand for the cows to sleep on. He uses a skid loader to bring the sand in and place it into the stalls... the kids were fascinated by this! At one point all 7 of the little munchkins had their heads through the stances... it was pretty cute!

Here they all are watching the skid loader.

I think for most of the kids that the best part of the entire tour was visiting the newborn calf. The kids were encouraged to stop and pet a female Jersey that was born that morning... she was adorable as you can see! And for some of the kids, this was a first!

Here's Jaxon's class petting the newborn calf.

Jaxon's friend Aiden isn't a huge fan of animals but cozied right up to this sweet, little baby. (He's the little boy to the left of Jaxon in the blue sweatshirt. His Mommy was so excited to see him get right down with the others and pet the calf!)
At the end of the tour, Mrs. Becky led us back into the barn and served up a refreshing snack of chocolate milk and cheese curds. The kids got to share snack time with one of the employees who was having his lunch. What a great way to end a really fun and educational field trip!

Here are some of the students enjoying their snack.

After the kids finished their snacks, they took some time to stop and look at the posters on the walls hanging in the break room. Jaxon & I even found a picture of his uncles Tony & Micah and aunt Sam from a club herd project through 4-H!

Jaxon and I both had a really good time! It was so much fun to see the excitement on all of the little ones faces as they got to experience something most people don't see everyday! I asked Jaxon, after we got home from the tour, where he'd like to go for our "at-home field trip" this theme. He suggested that we head over to Grandpa's dairy and visit his cows and I think we might just have to do that!

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