Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fiber Workshop - Day 1

Today, we had to play catch up a bit!  We finished up our dairy lesson from last workshop with a quick review in how cream is formed (and why store bought milk does not separate).  The class then made their own butter by shaking up a container of cream using a marble and some dance music!  The marble helps to speed up the process, and the music keeps the kids hopping and energetic while they shake their containers!


Today’s lesson was an introduction on different types of fiber that comes from plants and animals.  We discussed cotton, mohair, angora rabbit fiber, sheep’s wool, and alpaca fleece.  We had an integrated social studies lesson, as the students learned about the Navajo tribe and their beautiful woven rugs.  We read the book “Goat in the Rug”, which is a true story about a Navajo weaver and her goat, Geraldine. 

We were able to get out and play today!  The kids were able to eat outside, play tag, and visit with the animals.  With the recent rain, I was very excited that we could get out and soak up the sun!  Afterward, the kids were able to see the newly hatched ducklings!  A couple weeks ago, the kids candled the duck eggs to see the embryos growing inside.  Today, they saw those little babies and were able to hold them!

In art, the class worked with yarn to create baby turtles!  They had to concentrate as they wove the yarn in a certain way to create the shell.  It took the younger ones a little practice, but they all mastered the technique and did a great job!

Next week, we will continue our fiber lesson as we zero in on the different sources of fiber and their uses.  Each student will need to bring in their writing assignment!  For next week’s class, think about the story of Geraldine and the Navajo rug.  In the story, the narrator was the goat, herself.  She told the story from her point of view.  Now, you choose a fiber animal: goat, angora rabbit, alpaca, or sheep.  (If you’d like to be really creative, you could even be a cotton plant!)  Now, tell a story about something that is made from your wool, mohair, or fleece!

Parents- If you bring in foods that require a spoon or fork, please bring them in…. OR…. feel free to bring in a box of plastic-ware to keep in the room!  We are going through forks and spoons left and right.  Thanks!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Last Day of Workshop #1!

What an incredibly packed day!

Our class began with a bit of dairy talk.  The kids learned about mastitis in dairy cattle and goats, and how to test for it.  I showed the kids the strip cup, which is used to look for imperfection in the milk before you milk into the pail.  This inspection is important to detect clumping, thickness, flakes, etc.  We wanted to milk Vanna White today, but she had other plans.  You see, Vanna is still nursing her (very large) little boy, and she did not feel like letting our class milk!  I did show the kids how the strip cup works, and a few people were able to milk her before I decided to just wait for the next momma to kid.  We have a whole school year ahead of us... and there will be more opportunities to milk a nicer doe!  I did use this chance to show the kids how to trim the goat's hooves.  It wasn't a complete bust!

The class worked on their news reports today, and we recorded them for a video!  I will be working on the editing this weekend, and hopefully have them up early next week!  They did an absolutely awesome job... and some of them had me in stitches!

This was a bit random, but I have two broody ducks at the moment, both sitting on nests of eggs.  I also have duck eggs in the incubator.  These eggs have been set for about 2 weeks, and were at the perfect point to candle!  Although we won't be talking in depth about poultry and embryology until spring, I brought down the eggs and we took a peek at the developing embryos inside.  They kids were able to see the veins, the shadow of the ducklings, and lots of movement!

In art, the kids finished their marionette animals.  It was a crazy day full of hot glue, beads, straws, string, pipe cleaners, and more!  The kids loved it, and I think their projects turned out great!  I had the Lonely Goatherd song from The Sound of Music stuck in my head all day long!

Even though our next workshop is on a different topic, we will come back to dairy and finish up a few loose ends.  Thank goodness for flexibility, as sometimes I just try to pack too much in!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Dairy Workshop: Day 3

Today was jam packed!  I didn’t think we were going to get everything in, but we did.  The class has been learning about dairy goats and dairy cows… but just like life on the farm is unpredictable, this class can be as well!  I always begin the class with Farm News.  This is a time for me to share all of the crazy things that happen each week, in between our class times.  Today’s Farm News included stories of us unloading our new steer, a talk about how I plan to feed him out for processing in January, our livestock guardian dog’s leg injury, and a very dramatic tale of the new steer knocking the gate off of the hinges and letting everyone run free!  There really is never a dull moment!

Last year, one of my students suggested that we have a Farm News recap on the last day of each workshop.  I loved the idea, and I am combining this concept with our last writing assignment.  For next week, the students will be the “news anchor”.  They will rewrite a Farm News story from the workshop, and read it as if they were on television.  I have a feeling this is going to be seriously FUN!  So, for next week, the kids should pretend they are a news anchor and each work on writing ONE of the news stories from this workshop (or tell about one of the lessons/activities that we did here in class).  If your child would like to actually record their news broadcast next week, wear your Farm Fusion tee-shirt!  (This is a no-stress allowed project!  If they would like to write it, but not read it out loud, that is fine!)

Those in the older class can work as a group if they would like.  If they choose to work with others, they will need to make sure not to tell the same story as their fellow anchor!

Our lesson today was on dairy cattle and goats.  They learned the different terms cow, bull, steer, heifer, buck, doe, and more.  We talked about the differences between store bought milk (which is pasteurized and homogenized) and “raw milk” that is straight from the cow.  They learned why you do not see goat butter in the stores…. goat’s milk is naturally (partially) homogenized, so the cream does not separate as easily as cow’s milk does.  After our lesson, both classes were able to spend time outside with the animals.  They ate an outdoor snack, and listened to our version of the Three Billy Goat’s Gruff, using names of our small, medium, and large goats.  Then, each student read his or her story that they worked on at home.  Again, I absolutely love the creativity that they have!  I am a big fan of farm-based stories, and I get to hear so many unique tales… sometimes about my very own animals.  It’s the best!
Ms. Gina brought technology to the classroom today!  I usually have a coloring sheet for the kids to work on before class begins.  It relates to the lesson, and gives them something to focus on while we wait for everyone to arrive.  Today, their coloring sheet was a dairy cow that can come alive with the Quiver App.  Ms. Gina brought Ipads so the tables would take turns making their cow and little bird come alive in 3D! 

The classes learned the proper technique for hand-milking.  They then used a glove to practice this technique.  It works really well, and it doesn’t require a very patient goat!  Next week, we will take our skills straight to the goat and milk our Saanen doe, Vanna White!  The students will learn the importance of proper hygiene, teat washing, filtering, and other important safety measures. 

In art, Ms. Gina taught the class about marionettes.  The students cut paper towel rolls to become the body and head of their animal marionette.  They have been studying cows and goats, but they can make any animal they’d like for this project.  Today, they worked on painting these pieces.  Next week, we will add the legs, neck, and the strings that will hold it up!

It’s hard to believe that next week is the last day of this workshop. We will have one week off and be back on October 11th for our next unit!