The Cherokee Middle School fifth graders went to visit various farms on September 11, 2012. We visited a hog farm, the ethanol plant, a dairy farm, and Sand Seed to learn about farm safety. The day before, we had speakers come to our school to tell us about beef cattle, soybeans, corn, dairy cows, and hogs. We went on the farm trip to learn about where our food comes from and to appreciate Iowa farmers.
Pigs add value to Iowa's corn and soybeans by turning three pounds of food into one pound of body weight. The mother pig is a sow. It takes 115 days for a sow's litter to develop. When the sow is ready to farrow (give birth), the pigs go into a nursery. When pigs are first born, they weigh two to three pounds. Weaned pigs weigh ten to fifteen pounds. To wean a pig means to take it away from its mother. After five to six months the pigs reach a typical market weight of 250 pounds. (Matty, Carson, Katie, Abel)
Dr. Britt Carlson talked to us about beef cattle. She shared a photo of her bull, Beefy. Beef cattle eat so fast they regurgitate their food, and that is called cud. They chew on that. Their hides can make footballs, jackets, and belts. A cow is a female and a male is called a bull. Bulls are heavier than cows. A male cow that has been neutered is called a steer. A female that has not had a calf yet is called a heifer. (Kai, Olivia, Nicole, Bailey)
Mr. Wilkens from Sand Seed taught us about farm safety. You should always stay away from the power take off because you could get injured or even killed. Three fourths of people who get caught in a PTO die. The power take off is at the back of the tractor and gives power to whatever machine is attached to the tractor. Do not wear jewelry or loose clothing because it could get caught in the PTO faster than you can blink. Never go into a grain wagon or storage bin because you could drown in the grain. You should approach machinery from the front right/left side so the person running the machine can see you. These are ways to be safe on the farm. (Lauren, Mia, Colin)
Mr. Corey Zindel from the Pioneer Plant came and visited the Cherokee Middle School fifth grade and told us about soybeans. He told us that it takes 105 to 115 days for beans to mature. He also said that there are about 40-50 pods on a plant. The average amount of soybeans in a pod is three beans. One soybean seed produces 150 new seeds. There are about 450 pounds of soybeans in a bushel of beans. Soybeans are used in fuel. They are also used as feed for cattle. We're glad Mr. Zindel taught us about soybeans. (Cassidy, Haleigh, Trevor)
Mr. Zindel also taught us facts about corn. Corn can grow six to nine feet tall. You harvest corn in the fall when it is brown or gold. 56 pounds of corn equals one bushel. One acre of corn equals 200 bushels. There are fifteen to twenty rows on one cob of corn. You must detassel the female corn so that you get seed corn. (Trevor, Tyler, Ethan)
We went to the Ethanol plant just outside Marcus. The ethanol plant makes corn into fuel. DDG stands for dried distilled grain. It is a by-product of the ethanol process and is fed to farm animals. Ethanol production helps boost the U.S. income by $45 billion. One bushel of corn can produce at least 2.7 gallons of ethanol. Ethanol reduces carbon dioxide enzymes by 27%. Ethanol is a proven octane enhancer and replacement for lead and other toxic compounds in gasoline. Ethanol is non-toxic, water soluble and highly biodegradable. The ethanol plant taught us many interesting facts. (Megan, Hayden, Morgan, Miguel)
Thank you for reading our story about our field trip. We hope you were enlightened about agriculture in Cherokee County from our story and enjoyed reading about our trip. We learned so much about where our food comes from and the hard work the farmer does every day to provide for us. The fifth graders would like to thank the farmers, the chamber of commerce, the speakers, and our teachers and principal for a wonderful day. We really appreciated the people who made and served us lunch. It was delicious! We really loved the ice cream bars for dessert!