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Clagett Farms by Sean Gookin

Sean and other students visited Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro. Photo from Clagett Farm.

When we first got to Clagett Farms, the students separated into two groups. One group went on a hayride and the other stayed at the barn. I got in the group that stayed at the barn. Next, almost everyone went to the bathroom in little buildings. Instead of plumbing, they dug a really deep hole under the seat. Doing that saves electricity, water, and money.

Back at the barn, we used markers to identify information and locations on maps of Maryland as part of a mapping activity. We presented the information and locations we found to the rest of the students at the barn. Then we played a game called Sediment Sediment. There were two “Bay Savers” that tried to tag the kids running from one side to another. If you get tagged, you can’t move your legs but you can tag people. If you go out of bounds, you basically are automatically tagged. The game is similar to Sharks and Minnows.

Next, we went up on a hill to test what can best stop runoff. We tested pavement, different kinds of farmland, and dirt with a lot of plants. The pavement didn’t block any runoff; the farmland blocked more runoff than the pavement did; and the plants blocked all of the runoff. Finally, we had lunch outside or on hay bales in the barn.

After lunch, we played more Sediment Sediment while waiting for the other group to come back. We switched activities so we went on the hayride and the other group went to the barn. We ended up doing different activities than the other group.

We didn’t get far before we stopped at a grassy area. There, we tried to order steps of two different ways farmers take care of cows. We learned that one way is to keep all the cows herded in a fenced area that soon runs out of grass, inject the cow with chemicals to make it big and fat. In that method, diseases are more likely to spread to other cows and make them sick. Another way is to have multiple pens for cows so that they are not so crowded. Then, you can change the pen that the cow is in so the grass can grow back. We also learned that it’s better to buy meat and plants raised locally. Next, the cows and sheep needed to be moved to another pen. We formed a somewhat human wall to direct the cows to the other pen. We had to keep quiet so that we wouldn’t scare the animals; but, we got to pet some sheep. There are few sheep because they got the sheep recently. The cows ended up herding into a corner of the pen; they said it was because they didn’t know us yet. For some reason, a cow tried to jump on another cow. After that, we asked questions about the cows and sheep. The cows have a tag on their ear to identify the cow. The letter identifies the mother and the number identifies the month that they were born. For example, one tag said E 4 on it. The cow’s mother also has an E on the tag and that cow was born in April.

Then, we went back on the trailer to continue the hayride. We went to places all around the farm on the hayride. We saw cows, compost piles, barns, learned about what they do at Clagett Farms. The organic material has to sit for days or weeks at a time before its compost. The compost is used to help the crops and grass grow better.

We went back to the bathroom so people could use the bathrooms. Finally, we regrouped by the barn and boarded the buses.

Sixth grader Sean Gookin, Central Middle School, Anne Arundel County, learned a lot from field trips and field experiences.