MIAMI COUNTY — Everybody, meet Earl.
Earl isn’t a pony. Earl isn’t a horse. Miami East FFA member senior Rachael Hodge brought Earl the donkey to the annual FFA Ag Day because the donkey lives and “works” on her family’s cattle farm.
“I enjoy teaching the kids because a lot of them don’t get to see animals like (Earl),” she said. “It’s good to teach them about what we do every day. It’s a good way to get involved in the community.”
Hodge explained how Earl serves as a security guard for young calves in pasture.
“We keep the donkey in the pasture with the cows. I have a cattle business with over 80 cows. The donkey basically protects the calves from coyotes. He’s a sweetheart. We’ve had him for 10 years,” she shared.
Hodge, along with sophomore Kearsten Kirby and freshman Arielle Barnes, showed off their livestock in the “petting zoo” area of the tour to the students throughout Friday.
Kirby bred and raised the two goats she brought to share with children on her family farm outside of Fletcher.
“I was excited today that I didn’t have a kid that thought they were dogs. I had a kid last year that had thought my goats were dogs, then sheep,” Kirby shared. Kirby began breeding and raising goats two years ago and will show them at the Miami County Fair in August.
“I like teaching them about what ag is for and how fun it is,” she said. ” Teaching them about the goats and explaining to them that it’s a fun part of life.”
Barnes brought chickens and her rooster “Tucson” for children to learn more about their role on their dinner plate. Barnes has 61 chickens at home.
“They kids scream when (Tucson) coodles and it freaks them out,” Barnes explained.
Barnes explained that coodle is the word she uses to describe a rooster’s crow. Barnes shared that Tucson is more like a pet dog than her flock’s rooster.
“There was one girl who was scared to touch him because she though he was a turkey, but once she knew it was a chicken she was all for it,” Barnes said.
Forty fellow FFA members educated more than 500 kindergarten and first grade students from Troy City Schools and Miami East Elementary students. Eight consumers from RT Industries were also invited to serve as group leaders to chauffeur children from station to station.
“We identify things we know the consumer needs to know about, for example, the many ‘hats’ a farmer wears and does,” said Marie Carity, Miami East High School and Miami Valley CTC agriculture science teacher and FFA adviser.
Children visited 11 stations throughout the Miami County Fairgrounds to learn more about the food they eat and people who grow and raise their groceries at home. The annual Ag Day also featured stations led by Miami County Soil and Water District, Ohio State University Extension Office and Miami County Farm Bureau. Bair Trax Farm brought dairy cows with Dannon yogurt for a cow milking experience and dairy education. FFA members brought their animals from their homes to teach children or gave presentations about farm safety about life on the farm, which included the most popular station — the petting zoo.