Reed City First-Graders visit Moon-Lit Woods Dairy Farm

REED CITY – Rain didn’t dampen the spirits of five classes of first-graders from G.T. Norman Elementary when they visited Moon-Lit Woods dairy farm on June 1.

Wearing plastic trash bags against the rain and transported from the farm sites in a tarp-covered hay wagon, students kept dry while learning about the farm’s operation from tapping maple trees for syrup to the times a chicken lays an egg.

“The farm tour is a chance to expose students to agriculture,” said Janet Schmidt, Osceola County Farm Bureau newsletter editor. “The Woods family did a great job explaining to students where their food comes from. Every station had (agricultural) facts that the kids could easily relate to.”

Many presenters from the Woods family taught students about the farm, including John and Cathy Woods, who took the eager students into the dairy barn to show how they milk their dairy cows twice a day.

Each cow has its own personality, John said, as he showed the students the different breed of cows on the farm.

Students learned how to feed and care for baby calves housed in calf hutches from Sharon Todd and Morlock Farms’ Tammy Jones. Several children fed the calves milk and grain.

Wava Woods and her grandson, Eric Todd, showed the students the chickens and pigs on their farm. They learned that chickens lay their eggs between 7 and 11 a.m. and it takes about 24 hours for a chicken to produce an egg. A chicken will

lay about 23 dozen eggs each year.

Gary Todd showed the students their maple syrup operation. Native Americans discovered the sweet taste of sap from the maple tree and began boiling it. Students got to see how a maple tree is tapped, a spike is inserted into a tree and a bucket hung to collect the sap. It takes 40-50 gallon of sap to make a gallon of maple syrup. The kids were given a taste of the pure maple syrup.

Dean and Amy Smallegan from Ina Store demonstrated the different types of equipment needed to till, plant and harvest crops. Dean had corn, soybean and alfalfa seeds for kids to touch. He talked about farming years ago and how things have changed. Some tractors have computers in them that operate the equipment.

Jacob Stieg, 4-H program coordinator, spoke about the 4-H programs offered in Osceola County.

Milk was donated by DMS and yogurt donated by Yoplait. Cow hats and the cost of busing the children to the farm were donated by the Osceola County Farm Bureau. Big Rapids Farm and Garden gave flower seeds to the students.

The field trip marked the third year G.T. Norman Elementary first-graders have visited the farm.