On the farm

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 9, 2005

For Farm Day at the Tilton farm Wednesday in Holland, several Southwestern Elementary students became instructors. Members of the Western Tidewater 4-H Stockman’s Club came to the farm to teach their classmates about horses, pigs, other farm animals and plants.

&uot;I’m just good with cows,&uot; said Ethan Holland, introducing his calf, Bubble Gum (named so because of its pink nose) to visiting first-graders. &uot;You have to bottle-feed them for about two months.&uot;

Kaitlin Walter held ducks and geese for her pupils to pet.

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&uot;I have my own ducks, so I’m used to them,&uot; she said. &uot;I talk about what types of ducks there are. Turkeys have between five and six thousands feathers; ducks probably have about three thousand.&uot;

&uot;I knew that she would do good,&uot; said Mariah Scarbel, letting her goat Annie rest between lessons. &uot;I train her a lot. I walk her around, get her to follow me and let her know that I’m the boss.

&uot;I told (the kids) that goats eat hay and sweet feed in the morning and afternoon. You have to clip their nails three times a week. You clip the nails until they turn pink, but it doesn’t hurt them.&uot;

A science project about which type of chicken lays the most eggs won Justin Tilton the city’s top prize among Suffolk’s fourth-graders in April. Tuesday, he shared his knowledge with some up-and-comers.

&uot;I talked about the different breeds of chicken,&uot; said Justin, whose family helps run the farm. &uot;Roosters are the boys that protect the flocks and hens are the girls that lay the eggs. It takes about 24 hours for a hen to lay an egg.&uot;

His mother Missy led the kids through a book about what pets can teach their owners, lessons ranging from love to loyalty to responsibility.

&uot;This is a great opportunity to teach these kids about farm life,&uot; she said. Though the trip has been a Southwestern instructional tradition for years, Wednesday marked the first time it had been held at the Tilton farm.

Sitting down for a snack, some of the visitors talked about what they’d learned.

&uot;I learned that rabbits like to chew on pinecones,&uot; said Leia Dotson.

&uot;We learned about wild cherries,&uot; said Michelle Secrest (one lesson was about what animals eat, and what plants are dangerous to touch and taste).

&uot;Sometimes when an animal’s hungry, he’ll eat wild cherries if he can’t get anything else. I didn’t know that they were sour.&uot;