Students Write About Their Farm School Experiences
Jane Katch’s 9-, 10-, and 11-year-old students have been working on developing their voices as writers this year. Their explorations have included writing in several genres, considering audience when developing a piece, and engaging with their readers in a way that reveals as much about the writer as the topic.
These short pieces, chosen by these students to share, were written after the class spent three days and two nights at The Farm School in Athol, MA.
It is so much fun feeding the animals. You know that the animals like you, like one time I was feeding Junior (the ram) and when I started to leave, Junior started baa-ing as if he didn’t want me to leave. The reason Junior lives by himself is because he attacked the other sheep. I like knowing that the animals appreciate it when you feed them, pet them, and play with them.
I also got to feed Clara, the lamb, with a bottle because her neck hangs down and one of her legs can’t hold her weight so they have to feed her with a bottle since she can’t graze yet (hopefully she will be able to soon). It’s so much fun to feed her (except when she squirms) watch her, pet her, and play with her. She is just so special. Here is her life story: When she was born immature, her mother abandoned her. (A fact, sheep are HORRIBLE mothers. One of the farmers heard a story about a mother sheep accidentally sitting on her baby and killing her.) And ever since Clara has needed extra care.
And last but not least, feeding the chickens–at first I was so scared that the chickens would peck me instead of the food but once I got used to it, it was so much fun!!!
One thing I did at farm school was feed Clara a few month’s old lamb. It was really fun, but I felt bad for her. Clara’s mom abandoned her when she was a baby because of her neck and leg. First of all her neck is out of place so she can’t pick it up to eat, which is why we had to bottle feed her. Also, when she would walk she limped because her neck was resting on her leg so it was bent and she couldn’t make it straight. It was also sad to see the other sheep ignore her.
This is what we had to do to get her bottle ready…
First we would heat up her formula, put it in her bottle, and shake it up. After we did that we would get a cup of hot water and paper towels. The paper towels are for after she eats. I’ll tell you what those are for later in this piece.
When we got to the sheep pen Clara would run up to us and check if we had shoelaces. If we did she would try to bite them. After we said “hi” to her, we went out into the sheep pen and she would follow us. Everyone in my group would get into a circle and take turns feeding her. When it was my turn I held her neck like we were suppose to. All you have to do is put your hand under her neck to support it you also have to hold the bottle at an angle so she can get the milk out. It was pretty easy except when she would back up while drinking.
It was so cute the way you could hear her sucking so hard on the bottle and watching her back.
Here’s when the paper towels come in…
After she’s done drinking she has milk on her face so Dave (he’s one of the staff at farm school, also the one helping us feed Clara) had to wipe that off and one other spot but I don’t need to mention that.
Seeing how cute and awesome she was makes me want a lamb. Dave told us two excuses for getting a lamb, they mow the lawn and fertilize the yard.
Even though Clara’s different, I’m glad the Farm School gave her a chance, and maybe if you ever go or get to go again you just might get a chance to feed her (if you don’t at least go and visit her at some point in your visit).
You should have seen how popular she was.
Have fun at Farm School!
Who works in the kitchen?
Christina and most of the kids who work at farm school do. When you don’t like something at home or somewhere else, you have a 99% chance that you will like it if it’s Christina’s way to make it.
What happens in the kitchen?
Everything you eat is cooked in the kitchen and then we eat in the dinning room.
There is no food allowed in the bunk rooms!
They make two snacks and three meals.
When do you eat?
At 7:30 you eat breakfast (before that you do chores). After every meal, some people clean the dishes. At 10:15 snack. At 12:00 lunch, at 3:30 and at 6:15 dinner.
There are three reasons why we eat at farm school:
1. The food is good even if you usually don’t like it somewhere else.
2. You need energy to work at farm school.
3. If you don’t eat you’ll be hungry during work.
Where is the kitchen?
When you get out of the bunk rooms, you look the opposite way that you go to go outside.
Well, I guess this is all I’ve got to tell you!!!
Junior the Ram Eats Mexican Food!
A few days ago I went to Farm School. The place is amazing!
There are all sorts of animals there. But my favorite by far, was a young ram named Junior.
I pretended that Junior was my son. Every free time we had, Gavin, Aiden and I would go to feed Junior.
One free time, after dinner, my friends and I went to Junior’s place. It’s not much to look at. Just a fenced in area with a tiny shack for him to sleep in. Usually, Junior just chillaxes in his mini front yard, only this time, he wasn’t there.
“Juuuniooooor!” I called.
Junior bounded out of his shack.
“Oh, there you are,” I chuckled.
I pet him on the head.
Nope, still no horns, I thought.
Gavin walked over to the tall grass and bent down. He took a fist full of grass and walked over to the big leaves. Then, he took two of them and wrapped one of them around the grass, folded it over, and wrapped the last leaf around that.
“Voila,” said Gavin, “A burrito!”
Aiden and I laughed.
Gavin walked over to Junior’s pen and held out the “burrito.” Junior sniffed this new food, considered it…SNAP! Junior’s muzzle shot out like an over caffeinated squirrel. He snatched the burrito with a mighty chomp and shredded it up as he ate it.
“I guess someone has a new favorite food!” I laughed.
From then on, Junior’s meal always had a Mexican flare!
Baby cow eats baseball field!
Me and some of my friends were playing wiffle ball and a baby cow got under the electric fence and started eating the baseball field and it wouldn’t stop. Finally, someone hit the ball to center field and it went back in the pen but that didn’t stop it, it came back for seconds in right field, then it came right back and ate more and more until it just walked back in the pen and laid down until it got hungry and came back in.
LITTLE LAMB MAKES A COMEBACK
At farm school, in the sheep pen, there is a little lamb named Clara. When Clara was born, her neck was twisted in to a C angle, and her head is turned sideways to her right leg that is in the wrong place and can’t flex it all the way, and when her mother saw this she abandoned her.
And when the farm school staff saw this they acted liked like her mother and soon enough all the people where her mothers.
But even though all the people are her mothers, all the other sheep started to pick on her, and took advantage of her small size and weak strength.
And soon enough all the farm school staff and kids that leave every week were more family to Clara than the sheep are to her. (And what I mean by that is when all the other sheep and lambs go into the sheep pasture, she waits for someone to have as company and to take a walk with).
And being a mother has its consequences…
If you are on barn chores, you will bottle feed her, EVERY 4 HOURS (from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and every 4 hours in between)!!!
And if you are a person that doesn’t like barn chores, Clara will be the highlight of your morning or afternoon chores.
Even though it sounds sad and looks sad, Clara is a lamb that made a comeback on the world.
The Food At Farm School Is Amazing
I’m going to tell you about the food at Farm School, and what the food places look like, and some other food-related things.
First, I’m going to tell you what it’s like at The Farm School dining hall and kitchen. The kitchen is just as big as a normal house kitchen — it has utensils, pots — stuff you need for a kitchen. The dining hall is a big room but there’s not much in there — just a water tank, four tables, and benches for them.
The food is great; I guarantee you’ll like at least one meal but I liked them all. That is going to make me remember Farm School.
The first meal of the day is obviously breakfast; it was my favorite meal from Farm School. It was like a normal breakfast but it was so much better than the food I have at my house and that was why it was my favorite meal. After breakfast, we have a snack — just something so you’re not hungry until lunch but is wasn’t as good as breakfast. The first day you bring your own lunch then the next day they make lunch for you, but they only make it once. After lunch is another snack again, so you’re not hungry until dinner again, but it’s not as good as breakfast. Then finally dinner — it’s really good. It was my 2nd favorite meal and it was for real almost as good as breakfast. Also if you’ve never had it before I think you’ll still like it.
How you get your food is you wash your hands get in line then the staff will tell you what it is and if you can’t have gluten or dairy they have the same thing just no gluten or dairy.
Last of all you CAN cook if you want to. If you’re on bunkroom chores all you have to do is say “Can I help cook?” and they’ll almost always say yes unless there nothing that you can do, but that’s rare.
Chicken Chores Are Chaotic and Funny
At Farm school, you have a chore area for chickens and the other animals. Before dinner one day, my group got to do the animals. Dylan and Paul, two kids in my group, filled two buckets halfway full with water and the chickens just flooded out. It was funny because they kept running on their little chicken legs and they kept on clucking, and some of them just ran at you and tried to peck you. It’s not easy to forget, like, a gazillion chickens, all of them running like mad and they look like they’re going to peck out your eyes! And all of those chickens going “Ba kawk, ba kwak!” the whole time this is going on and you’re trying to get to the water thingy and you’re like “ Get away, it’s just water!” and they can’t understand English or any language except chicken speech. If you EVER try to imitate chicken speech, you might probably get messed up because it’s a hard language since “Bawk” is just so many words in chicken speech. Why does chicken speech have to be so complicated?
Then we collected the eggs. It was funny because some were like “It’s so clean!” and some were like “Ew.” The dirty ones had straw and chicken pee and poop. We used sand paper to clean the dirty eggs. The clean ones we put on the thingy. Some of the eggs took FOREVER to clean. Then,
the eggs were put away in the thing (with two eggs smashed, sadly), we recorded the number of eggs for that day, and then the bell rang for the human’s dinner. I was like “Yay, food!” since I was ravenous. It was also extremely chaotic.
It was chaotic because the chickens come out at you and if the chickens were equal to humans, it’d be an army vs. a person, or in this case, five people. Like maybe five people, armed only with a basket and two half full buckets of water, and the army is armed. Only the chickens had their feet with their toes and those beaks! That would hurt a lot worse than stepping on a giant tack, which I’ve done, and it hurts like crazy!
It was also chaotic because they’re running at you and trying to be first to get to the bucket, and if they could speak English, they’d probably be saying “I want some! Get away, I’m first!” And the beaks, I think some of them were pecking each other, and I think they’d hurt, like a dog bite, but not really like a dog bite, since they have no teeth. As we collected the eggs, the farm school farmer got pecked, and she said it hurts. I can imagine. Some of the chickens were there and they got incredibly close to our feet. Those chickens must’ve been really thirsty and hungry. So hungry, they could have eaten anything! Even humans! Not really, though. If you escape the horde of chickens with their sharp beaks and their sharp feet, you’ll get a reward. Breakfast!, Lunch!, Dinner!, or Snack! (you get snack too.)
There was this one rooster that was BIG. And his feathers were different colors, I called him the Alpha Rooster, because he looked like he was the boss. The Alpha Rooster stood out, like yellow in a crowd of blue, red in a crowd of black. He looked dominant all the way. That’s how serious he looked.
And that’s how chicken chores can be chaotic and funny at the same time.