Monday, October 19, 2009

A Day On The Farm

At least it wasn't raining yesterday when we ventured out to the dairy farm. Once a month the elementary age youth group from church have an outing. This month it was out to the town of Elma (west of Tumwater) to the farm that belongs to Bill and Jenny from our church. They graciously offered to give the kids a tour. Bruce and I went along and took Mackenzie and Zoey. It took about 30 minutes to drive there.

Before setting out on the tour, Bill, the dairy farmer told the kids that things would smell "funny" and even "bad". That was all a part of being on a dairy farm with over 300 cows. He was right! First thing we got to do was climb aboard the hay wagon and Bill pulled us along the idyllic countryside while we enjoyed the scenery.

As I've mentioned on other posts...please double click on a photo for a larger view:

This was our hay wagon, and even though fresh hay was loaded for our ride, we still got plenty dirty from the wagon. Here's our Mackenzie riding along with her friends.
Zoey and Elijah had fun, too. Neither one had ever been to a real dairy farm before.
I wonder what Zoey is telling Bruce about?
After the ride around the fields, we pulled up to the cow barns. Here, Bill is telling us that the place smells worse than usual because the cows have been inside for 2 days. It had been raining heavily the past 2 days and when that happens the cows stay indoors. The farm hands wash out the cow barns every day, but the cows still poop in there a lot. After a few, "gross" "ewwww's" from the kids, they settled down to just listen to Bill. And...the poop wasn't just inside the cow was in a lot of places and we all have the shoes to prove it!
Bill, gave us a demonstration on how they flood out the floors of the cow barn to wash away all the cow waste and try to keep it clean. They even have a recycled water system for this.

Here are some of the cows enjoying their food. They have ear tags for identification, plus they each wear a computerized bracelet on a front leg. This sends data to the farm computer which will log in, among other things, where the cows walk each day and even how many steps they take. If they don't move around enough it isn't healthy for them.
We even got to walk back into one of the yuckiest areas (floor, that is) to have Bill show the kids where milk really comes from. He allowed any of them that wanted, to try and get milk from the udder. Some of the kid's had no idea about cow's udders and the milking process. So for that experience, it was worth the stinky, dirty floor.
We also got to go into the enclosure where the newest calves were held. They had large baby bottles with the cow's milk and those that wanted, could feed the calves. Some of the kids wanted no part of this...Zoey was one. The cows were moving around quite a bit and rubbing against us and some of the smaller children were frightened by the strength of the calves. Plus, they got our clothes all slimy and stinky. Lots of stinks going on here, let me tell ya.
Here's Mackenzie standing by one of the new calves. She wasn't afraid at all, and neither was the calf.
Out behind the cow barns, Jenny and Bill took us to see the calf houses. This is where the older calves stay until they can join the main herd.
Here I am trying to make my way through the mud. That wasn't all it was either, we found out! Good thing I wore my old shoes.
Here is a resident "mouser". Every barn needs a few of these.

This is Nellie, the farm dog. She was a real sweetheart and even rode on the hay wagon with all of us.
After the tour of the cow barns, each child got a pumpkin to decorate with markers. We also had a wienie roast and some apple cider. Zoey didn't want the wienie, she just wanted to eat the bun. OK...whatever. She'd already had lunch anyway. Zoey and Mackenzie had a good time decorating their own pumpkins.
At the end of the day, we got all the kids gathered on one of the large tractors for a group photo. They made their goofy poses....they are kids after all. Even Nellie got in the picture.
After good-byes and thank-yous to Bill and Jenny, we drove back to Tumwater. I phoned our daughter, Stephanie, to tell her we would be arriving around 5:00. I told her we were all pretty smelly and dirty and to be prepared to get the girl's showered and shampooed right away. When we got to their house, Stephanie was waiting in the laundry room. We got the girl's undressed and put their clothes (and even their jackets) into the washing machine. Off they went upstairs to get showered and Bruce and I took their shoes out into the yard and cleaned all the cow poop and mud off of them.
When we got back to the motorhome, Bruce and I did the same thing with our clothes and shoes. Yes, even our jackets got washed. They had bits and pieces of calf slime and who knows what all over them. Annie was excited to see us return and she sure spent some time sniffing all over us. Annie loves cows....really, she does.
It was a great experience for us city folk to go out on the farm. We had a great time.
Until next long for now!

1 comment:

Jerry and Suzy said...

What fun! For you as well as the kids. So many kids will never know where milk "really" comes from. School should be the smallest part of a child's education, and we all should continue our own education by going and seeing and doing. Thanks for the fun visit to a dairy farm -- and we didn't even get dirty or smelly!