It’s Fun Feeding the Cows, Wet Willies and All

Students Learn About Dairy Farming

Abbie DInka feeds a calf

A kid can learn a lot by spending a few hours at a dairy farm.

Second-grader Alexis Porter found out that cows have four stomachs. And when she watched a small team of them parade by, she could tell from their swinging udders that they had already been milked.

Second-graders get a good hot hand-washing before an end-of-trip snack

In honor of the field trip to Swisslane Farms, Colbie Berends wore a shirt with a cow eating a chocolate bar on it as a reference to where her favorite beverage comes from. But host Annie Link told her group, “If somebody tells you brown cows give chocolate milk, don’t believe them.”

And Frankie Hawley probably won’t forget when Link said dairy cows have to be milked at least twice a day, every day.

“That means on Christmas, on your birthday, on snow days,” Link clarified.

“You must be really tired,” Frankie said.

Five classes of Cherry Creek Elementary second-graders held school fundraisers to visit the family-run Alto dairy farm. Teacher Kim Lum said her class has been studying photo essays and plans to make one of their own based on the trip. Lum said the goal also was to use travel time from suburban Lowell to rural Alto to have students notice with intention the characteristics of the two communities separated by just 11 miles.

One big challenge of a day at the dairy farm: cows are, um, pungent

Teacher Robyn Anderson said her class is working on narratives, and will use hundreds of photos she took during their time at Swisslane to create their own.

While there, second-graders saw where cows live on the farm, watched them being milked and learned how the pair of 7,000-gallon tanks are filled every day. They also went on a hayride and got to bottle-feed warm water to calves. That was probably Cole Cichocki’s favorite part, when the calf he was feeding seemed to like his fingers better than the bottle.

“Feels warm,” Cole said. “Like a wet willy, except on your hand.”

CONNECT

Swisslane Dairy Farm

Teacher Robyn Anderson’s blog post about the Swisslane field trip

Cole Cichocki says being licked by a calf “is like a wet willy, except on your hand”
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio

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