Nobody goes to summer camp for the chores.
But at Farm Camp, all the days start with chores, and, apparently, it’s part of the appeal.
This month, Erin Grawe and Megan Daluge of Daluge Farms, launched Farm Camp, a weeklong day camp designed to introduce kids to the world of dairy farming.
Activities include everyday chores, learning how milk is made, leading calves and making treats including ice cream, whipped cream, butter and grilled cheese. Kids also get to make farm crafts and do typical camp stuff like using the Slip ‘N Slide and playing kickball.
They also learn a remarkable amount about farming including the difference between a cow and a heifer, what TMR is and what goes into it and the difference between hay and straw.
Cooper Davis, 8, went to the first session of farm camp and came back for a second session because he liked it so much.
"I'm gonna be a farmer," Davis said.
Cooper knew that TMR means “total mixed ration.”
“That’s what you feed the cows,” Cooper explained.
What would be in total mixed ration?
Kids called out the answers: Hay! Corn! Beans!
What kind of beans?
Cooper also knew the difference between hay and straw. Straw is the “thin things,” said Cooper. Then he showed what he meant by making imaginary plant stalks with his hands. Straw can be used as bedding for cows. Hay is food for the cows.
Grawe and Daluge, who run Daluge Farms with their father, Peter Daluge, have plenty of experience in ag education. Both serve as “ag ambassadors” to schools. The program, which is run by the Agribusiness Council of Rock County, was designed to get the facts about farming into classrooms and the community.
Megan Daluge stressed she and her sister don’t sugar coat the facts of farm life.
Yes, calves get separated from their mothers, for the health of both the cows and their calves. No, the farm doesn’t keep its bull calves. And yes, when cows get old or sick, farmers have to get rid of them.
The campers, who are between 6 and 12 years old, also witnessed a cow giving birth. They seemed unfazed by the experience. Indeed, they loved having the baby calves to care for.
Sully Kettner, 6, liked the calves, but was a little uncertain about feeding an animal that was only a little bit smaller than he was.
"You're gonna have to help me with this," Sully said. "I don't think I know who to do this yet."