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City kids tour dairy, grain farm

By Staff | Jun 21, 2015

-Farm News photos by Michele Linck CAMPERS WATCH, and some cover their noses, as workers at the Jones Dairy prepare cows’ udders for milking.

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SPENCER/MILFORD – More than 225 Sioux City kids got a chance on June 12 to climb up steps to sit in the driver’s seat of giant, John Deere farm machines, getting a feel for what it might be like to drive the monstrous equipment through the fields on Karen and Dave Schwaller’s grain farm in Milford.

The youngsters, ages 8 to 15, also got hands-on experience with farm animals at the Jones Dairy Farm’s petting zoo, in rural Spencer, and a look at the Joneses’ dairy cows and milking process.

The field trip offered students a glimpse into how crops are planted and grown and how livestock is raised and kept healthy.

It also included safety education about the heavy farm equipment and grain bins.

A couple fifth-grade boys discovered that the farm’s semi-truck has a bed behind the seats. And even a place for a television.

The visitors, ages 10 through 15, all participate in the summer program at the Mary Treglia Community House, a Sioux City institution that, for 94 years has helped immigrant groups to become self-sufficient, learn English and adjust to life in the United States, and tutors children to help them succeed in school.

A ‘zoo’ on the farm

At Jones Dairy Farm, students began their tour at the petting zoo. The youths were greeted by lambs, sheep, goats and llamas.

They saw miniature donkeys and a Shetland pony.

The youths also got a close-up look at a pot-bellied pig, rabbits, chickens, turkeys and other small farm animals, too.

Nancy Jones and five helpers showed young students how to bottle- feed the 5-week-old Jersey calves before handing the bottles over to the kids to try.

Pat Jones took the visitors to his nearby dairy barn where he explained the milking process to each group as the milkers cleaned the cows’ udders and applied an antibacterial solution to the teats before attaching the milking machines.

‘Store’ is wrong answer

Back at the Schwallers’ farm, it turned out that “grocery store” was not the answer Karen Schwaller was seeking when quizzing the youths about where food is generated.

She asked a fourth-grader where his T-shirt came from. “The store,” he said with a grin.

She explained that the cotton in that shirt was grown on a farm, by a farmer.

The Schwallers served all 225 students and their leaders a lunch of grilled hamburgers on buns, with potato chips and milk, along with ice cream for dessert.

Schwaller said all the things they had for lunch, from the beef from some farm’s cattle, the wheat flour in the buns from Kansas; the potatoes in the chips from Idaho, the milk in the ice cream from a dairy farm, the ketchup from some farm’s tomatoes – had all been produced by farmers.

Afterward, Schwaller said she thinks the students’ field day “can only be a good thing.

“They have to know where their food comes from,” she said.

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