Day at the Dairy
GILMORE CITY – When Kylie Burmeister works in the milking parlor at the Davis Dairy, it’s usually just her and the cows.
Friday morning, the parlor was a little more crowded as hundreds of preschool, kindergarten and first-grade students from area schools got to watch the process during the annual Davis Dairy Day.
She said that not only were the children having fun, they had a lot of questions.
“A big one today is where does chocolate milk come from,” she said. “Does it come from brown cows?”
She was enjoying the opportunity to be an educational ambassador for farmers. Many children who grow up in town simply don’t understand how farming actually works.
“Even though we live in a rural town,” she said, “it’s a big problem when they don’t understand.”
Emily Crowley, 16, also was helping in the milking parlor.
“It’s so much fun,” she said. “It’s amazing to see their reaction.”
The cows themselves seemed to have some mixed feelings about having their milking time delayed a bit and invaded by small children.
“They’re a little moody,” Crowley said. “They usually get milked earlier. They’re handling it well; they haven’t kicked at all.”
Tracie Phillips, an employee at the dairy, said she hoped the kids had a fun learning experience.
“We hope to educate the kids on farm life,” she said, “give them a little bit of an experience.”
The children were able to walk around the farm in groups and not only see a lot of the farm animals, but they got to touch them too. Many found out that a baby goat’s ears are very soft, a sheep is a little rough and a chick is also quite soft to the touch. They even got to make their own “feeder mix” substituting such treats as marshmallows and cereal for the ingredients the cattle get.
They also got to see a freshly born calf still wet and still being cleaned by its mother.
Grayson Chamberlain, 7, a kindergarten student at Eagle Grove Elementary School, came to the farm prepared. He wore bib overalls and boots.
“I knew I was going to a farm,” he said.
He said he’s visited his grandfather’s farm and he knew ahead of time where chocolate milk comes from, that is, not directly from brown cows.
Angie Anderson, of Eagle Grove, grew up on a farm a short distance from the Davis Dairy. She started the annual Davis Dairy Day nine years ago with an outing for a group of Eagle Grove students.
It’s expanded every year and now includes children from many surrounding school districts and even Fort Dodge.
“We had 401 kids sign up this year,” she proudly said.
While they may learn about farming and animals at school, nothing beats the real experience.
“They get to see the animals in their habitat,” she said. “They learn a lot.”
Lois Davis is the owner/operator of Davis Dairy. She runs it with her husband Lawrence and son Glenn.
“I’m the big cheese,” she joked, “or the little one.”
She enjoys watching the children.
“I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “I like to see their eyes light up. We try to teach them where things come from.”
To help show off the farm, a large group of volunteers, neighbors and students from the West Bend Ag Program help out. They get a nice lunch for helping out.
“I feed about 70 of them,” Davis said.
While there are many farms in operation in the area, dairy operations are a rarity.
“We’re the only one in Humboldt County,” she said.
Virgil Behrendsen, of rural Gilmore City, brought along a clever way to ward off the chilly wind – a kid goat that soon fell asleep on his lap between rounds of children coming by to pet it.
He said the children are fascinated by the goat’s horns and surprised when they touch their ears.
“They’re surprised how soft it is,” he said.
Smaller animals weren’t left out either. Ducks, chickens and a turkey were on display, too, along with a brood of chicks.
For future reference, or the next game of Trivia Pursuit, they learned this handy fact.
“Chickens have more bones in their neck than a giraffe.” they were told.
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