Parents and children alike learn about food production
By Diego Flammini
A dairy farmer in Hunter River, P.E.I., is helping local 4-H members without agricultural experience learn to train livestock.
More than half of P.E.I.’s current 4-H members don’t live on farms, so Amber Craswell from Crasdale Farms is using her farm as a teaching facility.
“We milk about 110 cows and have a total herd of about 250,” she told Farms.com today. “We have other animals here too, so it’s a good way to have people come out to the farm and interact with the animals.”
Craswell grew up participating in 4-H in Quebec and has been a dairy leader at the Cavendish club in P.E.I. for the last 11 years.
In 2017, she hosted nine young 4-H members. Each had his or her own calf to name, train and show at local competitions.
“I learned different breeds of cows, I learned how to train a cow (and) how to pull hundreds of pounds along with me,” Lydia Doyle, a 12-year-old 4-Her visiting Craswell’s farm, told CBC yesterday.
Caring for the livestock also allows the 4-H members to develop a deep relationship with the animals.
Lydia showed her calf, Danni, at Old Home Week in Charlottetown, and learned how to prepare for the competition.
“You have to wear crisp white clothes, which isn’t ideal for cows and you have to bathe her (and) gel her,” she told CBC. “You have to put black stuff on her to make her black stuff stand out and you have to put white on her white spots and it’s really fun.”
“It’s similar in some ways to training a dog,” Craswell told Farms.com. “You introduce (the kids) to the calf and get the calf to walk with them. It takes patience but if they put in the effort, the calf will respond.”
Parents are also learning from their time spent on the farm, she said.
“They usually don’t have much experience either, so it’s always amazing to them to see how big the animals are but also how docile the animals are.”
Craswell has also found herself playing the role of student on occasion.
Aleah, Amber’s 9-year-old daughter, recently joined 4-H. But she’s taken an interest in a different farm animal.
“When she decided on poultry, we get to learn how to take care of chickens and how to show chickens,” Craswell said. “It gives us a little bit of insight into what it’s like from the outside looking in.”
Top photo: Amber and Brian Craswell
Photo: Prince Edward Island