Is anything cuter that kids and animals? There actually is – the Wee Farmers at the FARM Institute in Katama. Imagine, lambs, baby chicks, a baby calf, and kids all together on a farm, a wonderful combination.
Starting March 30th thru June 1st, the FARM Institute kicked off another season of Wee Farmers. Wee Farmers allows young children (mine are 1 and almost 3) to visit the farm and learn about animals and farming. Wee Farmers is on Saturday mornings, 9:30-11am, and is $15 per child and it includes a yummy snack.
Last week, I went for the first time. It was a cold, rainy day but the farm was a buzz with little ones and their moms. I can only imagine how much fun it will be in nicer weather. For this visit to the farm, Shaina Dulberg, the Education Coordinator, had a bunch of great things planned.
Shaina has been teaching the program with Rebecca Sanders, the Garden Manager and a teacher on the FARM. For Shaina, she is so amazed at the growth of the children in the program. Those who were once shy become eager to interact and help with the animals. The children have a natural joy that imerges in the farm environment, and of course the children learn so much about the animals and the FARM.
We started off meeting all the baby chicks, chickens and the roosters. What a sight to see! A group of kids making the best chicken and rooster noises ever! Let me tell you – those roosters rule the roost there!
After learning about the chickens, loved the Kosher Kings, Shaina took us on a little adventure of pretending to be birds. First we were Robins eating worms. Well, we were using chopsticks to get sesame noodles out of a container. Then we were chickens. We had to use tweezers to get grain to eat. And then, we were ducks, foraging for food in the water with our “bills”. The kids had a great time. Such a great use of imagination. Pretending to eat like the animals had the kids in stitches!
After all that, it was on to see the lambs. Not only did we get to see the lambs, but we actually got to go into the pen and spend time with them, even pet them. The lambs that were born the night before were kept with their mothers and we got to enjoy with a little distance. We had so much fun playing with the sheep. Some were curious and some were a little “sheepish”.
Lucky for us, a calf, a girl – Whitney had been born earlier that day. She is half American British white park and half white Galloway. She was so sweet and so new, a sight to behold. We didn’t get to close because it had a very good mom.
My favorite animals to see were the water buffalo. Yes, that’s right. There are two water buffalo at the Farm Institute. Their names are Mouse and Bear, and I fell in love with Mouse immediately. I have never seen a water buffalo before. Let alone pet one. Mouse was so sweet – he had the mannerisms of a dog. He wanted to smell you, lick you, and have his head scratched. He was amazing, and I can’t wait to go back and see him again. Mouse and Bear actaully belong to one of the farmers on the FARM, Scottie.
Each week, there is a new farm experience and adventure for kids. It’s a great way to help them understand the importance of farms, farming and our community. In a vibrant agricultural community like Martha’s Vineyard, it’s going to be a part of their lives, and why not engage them now. It can only lead to good things like them wanting their own garden and wanting to go to visit the farm often.
If you’re planning on heading out to the FARM this weekend, Saturday April 20th, or looking for a way to celebrate Earth Day, you’re in for a treat! It’s SHEEPAPLOOZA from 9am-3pm! In addition to helping with farm chores, collecting eggs, feeding the chickens, wee Farmers will be able to participate in all the fun SHEEPAPLOOZA activities which includes sheep shearing, hay rides, sheep herding dog demos and more. And it’s only $10 for the whole family to join in!
Next weekend, things are back to normal. The Wee Farmers will be spending time with the lambs and chicks, see what’s growing in the Friendship garden and maybe even go on an ox cart ride with Zeus and Apollo – how cool does that sound! Count me in!
The FARM Institute does an amazing job at providing people with the opportunity to be a part of their farm. There’s also lots of fun things for adults and big kids too. Also, don’t forget to check out the local goods you can buy – like eggs, chicken, or beef.
My only recommendation is to wear boots that are good in the mud, and dress in layers. The weather in Katama can be a little wacky and windy. Also, the FARM Institute asks you to preregister by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org you can call 508.627-7007.
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