Thursday, October 9, 2008

Field Trippin'

Whoa. It's been eight hours, and my head is still spinning after today's experience, also known as chaperoning the Christ the King Kindergarten Field Trip to Cagle's Dairy Farm. By the numbers, it looks like this: 75 kindergarteners + 2 yellow school buses = 1 more affirmation that I did not miss my calling as a teacher. Did I mention the trip was 45 minutes each way?

The kids, naturally, had a ball. And who can blame them? To start, it was the first time on a yellow bus for just about all of them. I might also add that it was the first outing for this particular bus (they now have seat belts, which is a good upgrade). I was about to write that the bus would probably never be the same, but nobody puked, or peed, or bled (at least as far as I know), so in bus terms it was an easy day. On the other hand, it was l.o.u.d. Punctuated by we adults constantly reminding kids to keep their legs facing front, their hands to themselves, their feet off of the seat in front of them, and their voices to a low roar. I think what I find most amazing is that I was at times so stern, downright cranky even, and the kids - total strangers to me until today - would still smile broadly and engage me either in conversation or that time-honored tradition of rock, paper, scissors. According to Charlie, who was monitoring my match with Jolie, I lost 200-1. I beg to differ, but if it helped pass the time, who am I to argue?

The dairy farm itself was pretty interesting, particularly to these suburban-dwelling kids. The first stop (well, after the restroom) was in the calf barn, where they bring the calves right after they're born and keep them until 4-5 months old. So very, very cute. After the tour guide did a bit of "this is this, that is that," the kids got to feed and pet the calves. As you can imagine, this was pretty well-received.

At the next stop we saw the milking machine in action on a live, enormous cow named Rosie. No more sitting on a stool and squeezing the udders for dairy farmers these days! I don't think the kids were as riveted by this, probably because the machine shattered their illusions that they would get to milk the cows. Oh well. Even less interesting to them was the part where we saw the milk get transferred into the gallon-size containers. It was somewhat of a yawn, especially when the words "pasteurization," "agricultural," "processing," and more were thrown around in voices that didn't quite cut it. However, from here we got to move on to the hay ride!

The first stop (pause, really) on the hay ride was outside the corral with the pregnant cows. Darn large animals. But the next stop was way cooler. We saw a dog, Tib, follow voice commands and corral the cows - around our wagon! Here's a view of the big, big cows running our way:

And here's just how close they got to us:

After this, much to the relief of the starving (so they said, though the amount of uneaten sandwiches would imply otherwise) kiddos, it was time for lunch. We had to pack our own, but we did get fresh, cold chocolate milk from the dairy, which I believe each child pronounced delectable. One more interminable potty break later (more numbers: 75 kindergarteners, 6 bathrooms) and it was back on the bus. Phew! This ride was a tad quieter, but not so much that I could relax my watch enough to play with my iPhone (much). Bummer.

I can't sign off without a photo to prove to Amy that I really did go:

And I really did enjoy seeing Clare with her classmates. But next time, I might dodge the teacher's phone call...