An Adventure in Agrotourism
August 1, 2012
I recently wrote an article giving you some unique ideas for summer fun with your children through agrotourism. After writing the article I went on an agrotourist adventure on my own to Shepherd’s Cross, our local sheep farm. When I heard the farm was providing tours I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from a sheep farm. I mean, how many things could there really be to do? Let me tell you, there are a lot. Here are just a few of the fun things we got to do on our trip to the farm.
Learning About Sheep
A trip to a sheep farm would not be complete without learning a little about the animals themselves. I was actually surprised how much there was to learn. Our group consisted of mothers, fathers, and children all under the age of 5, so our educational experience and tour was catered to very small children. I was worried the kids may not understand what was happening – or the adults would get bored, but I was pleasantly surprised at how educational it was for everyone
We saw how the sheep were separated out into pastures. The shepherdess, a female shepherd, also showed the children how the sheep responded to her voice but no one elses. We learned that donkeys are placed in the sheep pastures to ward away predators (something I never knew). We learned about how the sheep graze, what they eat, and most importantly about all the shepherdess’ duties.
Sheep Up Close
Of course the tour included a petting stop with one of the sheep. We learned that this particular sheep was an orphan and raised on a bottle; therefore, it was tamer than the other sheep in the pasture. It came right up to us and allowed the children to pet away. During this time the shepherdess also showed the children the shearing position for sheep. Sheep will actually sit on their bottoms and stay very still. She said that sheep are the only animals who enjoy sitting this way and will sit for endless amounts of time.
Since it is already the middle of summer the sheep had already been sheared; but they still showed us the process, including how they round the sheep up to be sheared.
Wool Washing and Spinning
This was part of the trip I did not expect. It was hot outside and they brought all the children inside to show them exactly what you do with wool once you have sheared the sheep. They showed us the machines used to wash the wool, how they dry it, and how they spin it into thread. They even allowed the children to spin their own wool and create their own felt. Afterwards we were shown all the products that you can make from wool.
The whole experience was very positive for the children and I think they (and I) learned a lot. We not only saw how the sheep were cared for, but ultimately got to see the end product of what a sheep farm produces which is wool. Now when I am in the store and see a product made from wool I can remind the children where the wool comes from.
What type of farm would you most like to visit?