Sharing slice of farm life with kids is a highlight of summer

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another installment in a series of columns highlighting the area’s agricultural community.

As a young child growing up in New York Mills, I can remember my elementary school classmates looking at me sideways when I would share my weekend and summertime experiences visiting the various dairy farms that my uncles and grandparents operated.

My classmates gave me those unusual looks because they had never been on a farm before and had no clue where all of our dairy products came from and how they were made. It was because of this, my mom set up a field trip for my first grade class to visit my Uncle Irv Hobin’s Farm in Holland Patent.

The significance of that fun, informative, and brief experience from 45 years ago that taught my elementary classmates about the importance of agriculture has always stuck with me. Even though my family and career paths took me a little bit away from my love for farming during my 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s – I never forgot those memorable years, and I have always promoted all aspects of agriculture any chance that I could. As some of you may know, my wife, Tammy, spent several years as a young child living on the Humphreys Dairy Farm in New Hartford with her foster parents, Brymer and Wendy Humphreys – so she too, developed the love for animals and farms at a very young age.

Now, as we approach the sixth year of running our own beef cow farm, Tammy and I take every opportunity to educate people, especially children, about the different kinds of farms that are out there — along with promoting all of the nutritional benefits from the farms here in Oneida County. This past week, we welcomed a field trip from the New York Mills Summer Park Program to our farm in Holland Patent. Nearly all of the 15 kids that attended had never been on a farm before.

It was quite comical to watch the kids step off of the bus and immediately pinch their noses, asking “what is that smell?”

For the next three hours, the kids were introduced to our herd of Hereford, Red Angus, and Wagu cattle. We talked about what we feed our cows along with the various stages of raising them. They then met our miniature horses, our Suffolk Punch draft horse “Willie,” our chickens and roosters, our cats, and of course – our dogs.

The highlight of any trip to the farm is a hay ride. Our good friend and neighboring farmer, Ben Simons, provided a tractor-pulled wagon ride through the valley with a fun and informative drive through and stop at the Finndale Farms, where the kids learned about dairy farms as well as how and where our milk and dairy products come from. The kids also got to meet brothers Travis and Troy Finn; we thank them for graciously allowing us to stop by.

Although the hay ride was the highlight of the trip, the ice cream sandwiches were also a hit!

— For comments or suggestions on the Farming in Central New York series of articles, e-mail Daily Sentinel
photojournalist John Clifford at jclifford@RNYmedia.com
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