Today is Saturday, August 19, 2017

A day on the farm

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DALLUS WHITFIELD / The Wilson Post
DALLUS WHITFIELD / The Wilson Post
DALLUS WHITFIELD / The Wilson Post
DALLUS WHITFIELD / The Wilson Post
DALLUS WHITFIELD / The Wilson Post

Area second graders got an up-close look at livestock this week at the 14th annual Farm Days.

Farms Days, which took place April 15-16 at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon, is sponsored by the Wilson County Farm Bureau, UT Agriculture Extension Office and Wilson County Soil Conservation.

Diane Major, with Wilson County Soil Conservation, said that the idea for an event was conceived over a decade ago to educate young people who may not have grown up on a farm about the importance of agriculture.

"My degree is in education and I talked to them about what a good age would be for Farm Days.

Second graders are attentive and curious. Our intention was that we would try it with second graders and see how it went," she explained. "That is where it has stayed. The first students who came through are almost out of college now."

Major introduced a group to a 1,300-pound Holstein named Miss Mary. However, Miss Mary wasn't the only animal there - children also learned about goats, horses, cows, chickens, rabbits and bees.

Lebanon FFA (Future Farmers of America) member Melissa Bohrman told students about Boer goats. "They are used for meat and slaughtered at 75 to 100 pounds," she said. Kids were excited to know that the two Boer goats at Farm Days were a mother and baby named Chattanooga and Choo Choo.

Lebanon FFA member Kristen Bennett talked about "Bluebutt" pigs - and said they are a mix of two breeds and get there name from the distinct blue/gray markings around their backside. "These pigs are about six weeks old. They grow very fast within the first few weeks. They can grow in weight anywhere from 300 to 900 pounds," she said. "Pigs are a lot smarter than people give them credit for."

Homeschooler Tabitha Jenkins brought three of the chickens she raised as part of 4-H's annual Chick Chain program - which happens annually in March. They included a Black Sexlink, a Barred Rock and a Rhode Island Red. Jenkins, now an eighth grader, has been in the 4-H Chick Chain since fourth grade.

"They stop laying (eggs) at around 4-years-old," she said, adding that younger students were eager to learn more fun facts about the chickens. "I tell them how the color of the egg is determined by earlobe. If the chicken has a red earlobe, the egg will be brown. If the chicken has a white earlobe, they lay white eggs."

According to a release from the Wilson County Sheriff's Office, Farm Days has increased in participation over the years - from 700 to 1,700 second graders. The Wilson County Sheriff's Office also brought their mobile command center to Farm Days this year. The Tennessee Highway Patrol brought a patrol car as well, for children to explore.

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at sgarrett@wilsonpost.com.

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