One of the things that we have focused on in our homeschool this past year is learning about where our food comes from. When the opportunity arose to visit Shamrock Farms Dairy Farm with our 4H group, I could not turn down the opportunity. Shamrock Farms is after all one of the largest Dairy Farms in the United States. Let me tell you, I have never seen so many cows in one place in my life!
Prior to our field trip, we studied about cows and dairy farms. We looked up information online and we checked out books from our library. We learned as much as we could about cows and milk production before we ever stepped on to the farm. We did this for a couple of reasons. The first one is obvious, we wanted to learn about where our food comes from and educate ourselves. The second reason is that it increased my kids anticipation of our trip to the farm itself. Every day we learned something new, and every day my kids got more and more excited.
The day of our field trip finally arrived. Let me tell you, my little ones were totally excited to see cows! We had to drive about an hour and a half to get there, and I was asked probably fifty times if we were there yet. Finally I went with the answer, you’ll know we’re there when you can look out your window and see cows. Then the question was, “Mommy, why can’t I see cows yet? Are they invisible?” So funny! No they were not invisible.
We took an air tram ride around the farm. Here are some pictures of our adventures
This is a picture of the actual milking facility. This picture doesn’t fully capture just how massive this facility is, this is just one of the lines of cows. There were several lines of cows just like this. I found this really interesting. Apparently, among the cows have a hierarchy so to speak. Basically, among the cows, they decide who the lead cow is in the herd. Every day the cows come into the milk facility. They follow the leader cow, that they chose. The cows go into the facility themselves, and line up in the exact same order every single day, and get themselves into position to be milked. We actually had the pleasure of watching the cows line themselves up and get ready to be milked. I was amazed at the intelligence and organization the cows had, that was not facilitated by people. The cows just knew what to do. They all get milked twice daily.
We also got to see milking machines. I knew it was more efficient to utilize machines to milk cows, but apparently it is also much gentler and it is also more hygienic. This is a picture of my son checking out the milk machine. We got to put a finger in the machine to see what it feels like to get milked. I would argue that after nursing two kids, I am kind of aware of how it feels to be milked 🙂
My kids favorite part of the tour was when they got to feed the baby cows. The baby cows are so adorable. We had to wear gloves in order to feed the babies in order to keep things as hygienic as possible. I was truly impressed with how clean Shamrock Farm is and very surprised that it didn’t have an overwhelming cow poo smell. They really go to great length to keep things as clean as possible.
I love doing things like this as part of our homeschool! I think sometimes, it is easy to get caught up in the book part of school and forget to get out and experience the hands on learning. The things I remember about school the most are the special trips we took and the experiments we did. I learned stuff out of books but it is memories like these that I treasure.