Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

NEIGHBORS >> A closer look at life on the farm

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer

Ward Central Pre-K students spend a day learning where food comes from.

Ward Central pre-kindergartners, many of them on a farm for the first time, pressed tight around a dwarf goat, prodding, petting and poking a critter so intent upon its grazing that it seemed blissfully oblivious of the attention.

About 150 children arrived in two school buses accompanied by 14 cars bearing chaperones as the children had a field day at C & C Farms on Minton Road off state Hwy. 38.

This was the second consecutive year Jeff and Kim Cass and their two sons have hosted the event, which included a ride in a tractor-drawn wagon, close-up inspection of a hay rake and baler, the opportunity to plant some seeds in a cup, and also a chance to pet and pester a Shetland pony, a chicken and a rooster.

“Only 2 percent of the people (in the U.S.) are employed in agriculture at all,” said Susan Matthews, a Lonoke County Extension Service agent.

“Most are so far removed from where their food comes from. (Children) think chicken comes from McDonald’s or Kroger and milk comes from a bottle.

“We wanted to provide them with a farm experience,” she said, to connect the value of agriculture to their daily lives.”
For the tractor ride, the children and their watchers crowded onto the wagon, which Jeff Cass drove around his pasture, stopping so the children could watch the cattle feed.

When they drove on, the cows followed as if waiting for a big round bale of hay to be dropped off the back of the trailer.
Lonoke County Extension Service staff chair Jeff Welch talked with the children about chickens and eggs (he didn’t say which came first) and Matthews helped each child plant two sunflower seeds in a plastic cup they could take home and grow.
The Cass family rents 150 acres for this Black Angus cow-café operation and lives on another farm closer to Lonoke, Kim Cass said.