Wednesday, September 4, 2013

First Milking Lesson!

Today began with a review of the goat information from last week.  We talked about what it means to be a mammal, and about the different features that all goats have.  Then, I explained to the class that there are 4 different types of goats:  meat goats, dairy goats, fiber goats, and hobby or miniature goats.  There are different breeds that fall under each type.  They saw pictures of Saanen dairy goats, Boer meat goats, Angora fiber goats, and Nigerian Dwarf goats.  Although Nigerian Dwarfs are a a dairy breed, their miniature status makes them more of a hobby goat (or a backyard milker for a family) than the larger dairy goats that make up dairy goat farms.  I helped them to understand the importance of milk production by having them look at the cost to feed a Saanen goat for a week and the amount of milk they produce.  We talked about the fact that goats like Boer goats also produce milk because they are mammals.  But, it just doesn't make sense based on the feed to milk ratio!  I love farm math!

We also discussed the different food products that make up the dairy food group.  They learned about the food pyramid, and the importance of healthy food choices! 

Next, I demonstrated the technique for hand-milking.  You cannot simply squeeze!  If you do, the milk will go right back up into the udder!  Instead, you have to close off the teat at the top and then squeeze the bottom portion, forcing the milk out of the teat.  The best way to practice this is on a rubber glove!  The class broke into small groups and took turns practicing.  Next week, they will be trying their hand at milking Greta!

As the kids ate their snacks, we read the story, "Goat in a Rug".  This story, narrated by an Angora goat, tells of how his mohair was sheered, spun into yarn, and woven into a Navajo rug.  This was a great way for the kids to get a good grasp on the usefulness of fiber goats.  The class also learned about the Navajo method for cleaning, dying, and spinning yarn, creating a loom, and weaving their amazing art!  The class illustrated their favorite part of the book.  They will have to think back about this story to complete their at home writing assignment!

I absolutely loved listening to the students read their writing assignments!  It sounds like the video on Buttermilk the goat was a HIT!  Each one of these kids is working on improving their writing on their own individual level.  This is the opportunity not only to give them a reason to write, but a chance to share their hard work and to be proud!  Great job!

At craft time, the class continued to work on their felt goat projects.  But first they had to get a beginners lesson on sewing!  We took plastic needlepoint canvas and practiced moving the needle up from the back, down from the front, and back again.  They worked on making straight lines and even stitches.  Then, they were able to sew the two sides of their goat together!  We will be filling them and putting on the final stitches next week!

It was another awesome day, and I cannot WAIT to help them milk the goats next Wednesday!

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