Do you know the answers?

How much does a calf weigh when it’s born? What is the typical age of a cow who has just had her first calf? Why are baby calves taken away from their mothers?

Those questions and many others were posed to and asked by inquisitive third graders at Worthington’s Prairie Elementary today. The barrage of questions were sparked by a visit from DiDi Christopherson and her parents, Dean and Carol. They are local farmers who were sharing information about the dairy industry during a Nobles County Farm Bureau-sponsored Ag in the Classroom event.

They completed four sessions today, and will return to the school tomorrow to meet with the rest of the third graders.

I was asked to help out, although I did little more than collect items that were passed around and squirt a dollop of hand sanitizer into dozens upon dozens of third-grader hands. It was fun. I earned a sunburn and a string of string cheese. Best of all, I get to go back and help out again tomorrow!

I held back several giggles as I watched the kids react to the factoids of dairy production.

The question and answer that created the biggest guffaw was, “How old is a cow when she’s had her first calf?”

A girl in the fourth and final group today came the closest with the answer “3,” but I think the highest age guessed was 47. The right answer, in case you’re wondering, is 2 years old.

You should have seen the jaws drop on the kids’ faces when they heard that!

My second favorite question and answer was, “How much does a calf weigh when it’s born?” This time, the answers from the students ranged from two pounds up to 150 pounds – and everywhere in between. The correct answer is anywhere from 50 pounds to 150 pounds. The boy who guessed 150 grinned from ear to ear at the boys sitting next to him.

The third graders learned about the importance of calves getting their colostrum milk, passed around a calf bottle (which is much, much larger than a baby bottle), smelled the sweetness of vitamin-fortified milk replacer and a couple of other calf food items, looked at straw and wood shavings and waited patiently for the best part of day … meeting, touching and petting a four-day-old bull calf named Bronx.

By the fourth class, Bronx was just as excited to see the kids as they were to see him. He jumped around to show his playfulness, smelled dozens of sneakers and blue jeans and even sucked on a few third-grader fingers, to the sheer delight of the kids.

I can’t wait to see how Bronx handles the kid crowds again tomorrow, but I think I’m more excited to hear what the kids have to say about meeting Bronx.

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