CCPS kindergarteners ‘get down on the farm’

CCPS kindergarten teacher Hannah Higgenbotham plays with her students from the Cheetah Class in the corn pit at Gullion Farms. (Cheyenne Sharp)

SOMERVILLE, Ala. – Cullman City Primary School (CCPS) kindergartners were invited and encouraged to “get down and dirty at the farm” on their spring field trips last week. Students learned the basics of agriculture and raising livestock by visiting Somerville’s Gullion Farms, a working farm owned and operated by Tammy and Steve Gullion, which has been highlighting rural family life through field trips and community events for over 30 years.

The antsy students were ambled into a barn fitted with bleachers and instructed to sit and wait for the show to begin. Tammy Gullion popped out with her Southern charm and air of everyone’s grandma, speaking to the crowd of gathered children and giving them the rules of the roost and the dos and don’ts of the farm to ensure a fun and safe day for all involved, animal and human alike.

Gullion told the students, “I’m Mrs. Gullion, but y’all can go ahead and call me MawMaw. Do you know what agriculture is? Agriculture is the business of the people that take care of the things of the Earth like animals and the plants and the trees and the grass.”

After a brief lesson on the importance of agriculture in the economy, the students were treated to a runway show featuring a few of the farm’s animals, such as dairy cows, goats, mules, donkeys, horses, ponies and different chicken breeds. The seated students were bursting with giggles, shrieks and endless oohs and aahhs as each animal passed them by, marveling at the size of the cows and horses and amused by the feathers and fur of the others.

When the show-and-tell with the livestock was complete, Gullion instructed the crowd that it was time to begin the activities, which included a horse-and-buggy ride, corn pit, mega-slide, petting zoo, stocked pond and cane pole fishing.

Each stop saw the children learn a facet of the agricultural industry; stops in the chicken coop showed children how eggs are produced, the hayride through the fields educated them on how the corn and beef produced end up in the grocery store and the cows grazing on grass led to a discussion on how ice cold milk ends up in their morning bowl of cereal or helps make ice cream.  

After a picnic lunch in the meadow and pony rides, milking one of the farm’s massive dairy cows was the last activity of the day – possibly the event most of the kids had looked forward to most all day.

As the thoroughly worn-out children sat quietly and patiently waited their turn at the udder, Steve Gullion, the other half of the owner/operating duo of Gullion Farms, said to the group, “Most dairy cows can produce up to 8 gallons of milk a day. This one is a Holstein and she can produce 15 gallons of milk a day.”

The excited children took their turns expressing the liquid gold before returning to their collective groups to head home for the day. Hoping the fun will carry over into the changing seasons, Tammy Gullion told families and parents, “I want to invite you back for our fall activities. In October, each Saturday, we are open to the public. We do all the activities we have here, including a pumpkin patch and a hay maze. It’s not structured like a field trip; it’s at your leisure.”

Gullion Farms is located at 701 Peck Hollow Road in Somerville.

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