Sunday, October 19, 2014

A day at the farm

Biscuit went on his first field trip Friday. All the kindergartners (just over 100 kids) went to a working farm.

The day started with a hayride all around the farm. The tour guide (who is also the farm's owner) told the kids all about growing soybeans, corn, milo, cotton and some other plants. The kids also learned about what all of those plants can be used for.

The farm has more soybeans than anything else - about 850 acres, if I remember correctly. They're not soybeans you eat, like edamame. Their soybeans are processed to extract the oil, which is mostly used to make vegetable oil.

Their corn is field corn and dent corn. And just like the soybeans, it's not the kind you eat, either. Well, you can eat it, but it's not the sweet corn like we buy in the store. Field and dent corn is used to make corn meal or processed to make animal feed. Milo is also used to make feed.

There was a small patch of cotton. It was probably about 30 feet long and 12 feet deep. The boles had popped open, and the kids all said they looked like marshmallows! The tour guide asked if anyone could guess how many T-shirts that patch of cotton could make. One little girl guessed 6, but the answer was about 1 1/2. There were a lot of oohs over that. It seemed like a lot of cotton to just get 1 1/2 shirts out of it.

After the hayride, the kids lined up on hay bales under a shelter to hear about what the farm does with its crops. The speaker was really good at talking to them on a kid-friendly level.

"Raise your hand if you like to eat dirt," she said.

"Eeeeeewwwwwwww!" all the kids said.

"Well, if you eat corn, you're eating dirt," she told them. She went on to explain how the dirt holds all the vitamins and minerals that end up in the corn. Biscuit latched onto that fact and has told everybody who would listen.

Next was play time.

They took hay bales and created a maze for tricycles. The kids had to ride through without touching the sides. It was harder than they thought it would be.

Then they played in the corn silos. Each silo had about 2 feet of corn kernels in the bottom, and the kids could roll around like they were in a ball pit. I think that was their favorite part.

The best line I heard all day was a kid who walked up to the teacher and said, "I think I have corn in my pants." I couldn't help but laugh. I didn't let him see me, though.

The kids brought sack lunches, and we ate at picnic tables. The only bad part was yellow jackets. Two kids were stung while we were eating. I think they swatted them a little too much. But the teacher was prepared. She had a boo-boo bag.

There was a swing set, a see saw, a tire swing, a tractor made from hay bales and wood, a hay bale mountain with a tunnel underneath and a few other things to climb on. The big attraction (for an older group than kindergartners) was a giant corn maze. Since it would've been too much for the kids to do the whole thing, a guide led us a little ways in. We stopped at a bridge, and the kids were allowed to run up and down the bridge as many times as they wanted. When it was time to move on, the teacher counted backwards from 25. Every one of those kids was in line by the time she got to 2!

Each kid got to pick out a cute little pumpkin to bring home. And it was easy to see that Biscuit's teacher had been there and done that before. She brought 24 grocery bags. Each kid picked out a pumpkin, put it in his or her bag and took it to the teacher's assistant to have his or her name written on it. Then all the bags went into the cooler where their sack lunches had been.

After they had picked their pumpkins, the kids had free play until it was time to leave. And by the time the buses were cranked up, the kids were exhausted. I had to go to work for a few hours and felt really bad for having to send Biscuit back to school. 

By the time they got back, it was time to go to the after-school program. The county sponsors an after-school program at each school that is really affordable. They go outside, have structured play and games, have a snack, have quiet time for reading or coloring then have free play. It's a good program, and seeing as it's half the price of his day care's after-school program, we're very happy to get to use it.

I have to say that Biscuit's class was just extremely well-behaved. I saw some things happening with kids in other classes. I actually scolded one kid who was throwing corn in one of the silos.

I stuck my head in the silo and said (or maybe yelled), "Don't throw the corn!"

And just as soon as my head left the door way, I hear "BAM!" that sounded like scattershot on the side of the tin building. That kid had thrown the corn.

I stuck my head back in the silo and pointed, "YOU ... in the red shirt ... if you throw corn again, you're coming out of there!"

He had a handful of corn, ready to throw it. But it slowly, kernel by kernel drained out of his hand.

When I pulled my head back out, another parent was standing there.

"Is he yours?" she asked. Like I shouldn't be saying anything like that to a kid who isn't mine.

"No," I said and just looked at her for a few seconds. And then I couldn't help myself. "I don't care whose kid he is, he could've hurt another kid by throwing that corn."

She just stared at me. Sometimes I think I'm too old-school for some of these new-fangled parents!

Here are some pictures from Biscuit's field trip:

A combine used to harvest crops.

School rules can sometimes be really dumb. The kids
aren't allowed to wear sunglasses, so Biscuit couldn't
look at the camera because the sun was too bright.

We saw a LOT of corn.

The kids run toward the pumpkin patch.

A guide led the kids a little ways into the corn maze. Biscuit really
liked it and wants to know if we can go and do the whole thing.

I couldn't believe how much fun these
kids had running up and down the bridge.

Don't you hate to see Biscuit having such a terrible time?!

Class photo.

Playing in the corn.

Learning about farming.

The sun was too bright for Biscuit to show his face.

Why is it that boys have to jump off of anything
that is more than a step above the ground?!

Please don't jump! Please don't jump! This hay bale
climbing mountain was at least 10 feet tall. The bales
were stair-stacked, and I could just see him
missing a step and tumbling to the bottom.

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