- “Cows are SO big!”
“I did not know that milk comes out warm….”
“They use machines to milk cows?”
OPA 8th grade went on a field trip to Green Acres Dairy (owned and operated by the Gibson family for five generations) and a good time was had by all………..
The kids were charmed by the calves, interested in the cows, and obsessed by bovine excretion. (Yes, cows poop and pee indiscriminately.) They felt warm pipes carrying milk directly from the cows (105 degrees F) and the chilled pipes (36 degrees F) carrying it to the bulk tank.
On the dairy, Gibson milk 1500 head 3 to 5 times daily and, yes, they use machines. The milking parlor operates 23 hours a day; pipes and parlor are thoroughly cleaned during the day's 24th hour. They use chip technology that records the cow’s milk production, temperature, movement in the barn, and number of times she belches daily. (I may have made up that last one….) The cows drink the equivalent of a bathtub full of water every a day, eat what looked like wood chips to us but was really a mixture of silage (ground, fermented corn plants), alfalfa, grass, barley, and various minerals and vitamins, and they sleep on sand. They turn the water and food into milk, 8-10 gallons per cow per day.
Dairy farming is marginally profitable; corn mazes pay off. Seeking a way to supplement income from the family farm, Gibson’s programmed their tractor’s GPS to plant a 6 acre corn maze, complete with outlines of a barn, a gazebo, and the words “Got Milk”: a-MAZE-ing!!! I was blown away by the technology; the kids blew off energy running around the trails…and visiting the petting zoo….and going down the slide.
All in all, it was a successful day… We saw STEM in action, city kids experienced some farm stuff, learning was associated with fun, and we did not lose anyone in the corn maze. Whaaa-whooo!
All student photos have been published with parental permission.