After several rescheduling's due to Vet Schedules, winter snow storms, a small solar flair - we finally got to check the ALC cows for pregnancy for the Iowa State Fair in early August 2011.
Having a student managed herd is pretty cool -- but is also pretty crazy. If you think about what you do already, put on managing 23 cows / calves, but instead of you working it -- delegate all the responsibility to a class of 20 students. My cell phone gets a workout, I tell you. I also recall now why my dad got perturbed when I would just say the 'cows were fine'. I have reaped what I have sown 20 fold. Each text message after chores is a variation of that all encompassing, yet non-descript description of the cows condition. SIGH - I guess that's why I pull down the big bucks (Sarcasm)
We had a really good day. The kids are becoming more proficient operating the PALCO all-in-one tub and frankly, it's a godsend. Student safety was always my biggest worry, since most aren't that comfortable or knowledgeable about cattle handling yet, and the one thing that this tub almost alleviates.
My special thanks goes to the elementary school around the corner who let us come in to warm up for lunch. The 8 degree weather with a small breeze made for a slightly chilly day. Some of my students got a real kick out of seeing their old teachers and it looked like the feeling was mutual.
Report card was pretty good. 11 pregnant, 11 open, and 1 too close to call right now. The kids will get another chance to palpate in May as we determine some due-dates and prepare for the impending parturition at the State Fair. I will say that 3 cows were open last year, turned up open this year and have probably seen their last State Fair from the Animal Learning Center perspective. So I don't count them against the kids' total. 50-60% is a realistic figure, but we sure would like to see it improve. I guess maybe a B for effort. But with A+ kids, we may give them another shot.
Thanks are in order for some folks who make this learning opportunity available: Iowa State Fair and Emily Brewer-ISF Ag Ed Coordinator; SE Polk Advisory Committee, including Don Timmins, Chair; the Southeast Polk School Board; and our administration who's support, initiative, and excitement over this experiential learning opportunity is clearly shown.
Catch you on the next drive; and next time - bring some warmer boots -- ME
Find more at twitter - @AgEd4ME or on Facebook at Southeast Polk FFA