My kids love visiting farms. They enjoy wandering around the fields, visiting with the animals, and getting to help out with farm chores. We have several historic farms in our area including an 1850s farm that was one of the first in the area.
Historic Farm Homeschool FieldtripToday we visited a 1930s historic, and working, dairy farm. In a 1930s dairy farm horses were still used for pulling equipment, but tractors were also being introduced as well. So it is a really interesting peak at an old fashioned and semi-modern farm at one time.
Meet the Animals on the Farm
With young children in the house, visiting the animals is their favorite part. They love petting the animals and even getting to help feed them. My girls love the sheep.
Apparently, male sheep (rams) can be stubborn and hard to deal with. The one that they kept ran through their barn wall. Plus the process of birthing sheep is tough and many may end up dieing int he process. So the farm we visited currently only had three female sheep.
Farm Uses for Sheep: Besides using lambs for meet, their wool coats are sheered at least once a year to get wool which can be spun into yarn.
The farm we visited had a large flock of 30 or so Columbian Wyandottes. We learned that these chickens lay about 5 eggs a week reliably for 2-3 years. You can tell how old they are by looking t their toe nails. We learned that chickens are some of the most expensive animals to keep on a farm because of the amount of food they eat compared to their body size. The chickens need to be locked up at night or local predators like raccoons or coyotes would kill them.
Chicken & the Egg ClassThe kids were allowed to collect the chicken eggs they saw and we got to take them home to try farm fresh eggs. My husband & I also took a chicken butchering class at the farm (without the kids) before we decided to get our own chickens (see our backyard chickens).
Farm Uses for Chickens - The heavy bodied chickens are great for dressing and they lay brown eggs (about 5 a week)
We also got to visit the farms Yorkshire Hogs. The pigs were sure excited to get the milk from the cows we brought. Apparently these pigs would nibble on you looking for food, so we kept our hands back! In the fall the farm offers the chance to see how a pig is butchered and roasted.
Farm Uses for Hogs – Eat lots of scraps and more importantly to butcher and eat in the fall.
The most important animal on most farms are the cows. This farm had Jersey cows which produce less total milk that some more modern breads, but have a higher fat content making them great choices for making cheese and cream. These cows grow to be 8—1200 pounds – they are so big. But this breed is very docile and apparently, easy to manage.
We got the chance to visit the cows up close and personal we well as hand feed them. My three year old was terrified at the idea of feeding the huge cow, but everyone else thought it was great. On one of our visits we had a little excitement when they let the cows out to pasture and they had forgotten to close a gate. All 15 cows got out and were wandering around – a couple even made it to the road. Luckily within about 15 minutes all the cows were back in their pen.
During one of our visits we got to see a 3 week old colt. Unfortunately for the him there is little use for male cows on a dairy farm so he wasn’t going to be sticking around very long (if you know what I mean).
Cow Milking Class
One of our favorite classes we’ve taken at the historic farm is the Cow Milking Class. Kids were able to learn how a cows is milked and then actually milk a cow by hand. Then were we shown how more modern equipment makes the process go incredibly quicker. It was a memorable experience.
Farm Uses for Cows – Milk (about 22 liters a day) and meat when butchered
Lastly we were able to meet the two farm horses that help them pull the heavy equipment. These horses are Belgians and are not for riding. These large horses are one of the heaviest breeds weighting over 2000 pounds each.
Farm Uses for Horses – Pulling farm equipment, moving barns, etc. Other breeds of horses might be used for riding.
If you’d like to visit a historic farm in your area, here is a huge list of historic farms in the United States listed by state.