This past Saturday (the 4th of November) was our last field trip, though I must say it was also my favorite. I think it was because it hits so close to home – we received a tour of our very own University of Delaware Newark farm led by the farm superintendent himself, Scott Hopkins!
After waiting for a good 15-20 minutes for our bus to arrive, Scott took matters into his own hands and started the tour on foot. We first went to the dairy farm and got to see the milking parlor, the cow feeding area and the building where the cows are kept, as well as a sneak peek at the baby cows! We received a brief rundown of the whole dairy operation – how the milking works, how the cows are fed, studies that are sometimes done on the cows, and a general overview on how the University of Delaware raises their livestock.
Eventually the bus caught up with us and took us down Farm lane to Webb farm. On the way there, we took a detour past the poultry houses where we learned what kind of research is done relating to chickens, and drove past the entomology center before arriving at our destination. We were then taken into the equine building, which is mostly used for equine science labs, but also doubles as a pretty convenient teaching room. One thing he told us while we were in the equine building that stood out to me was that horses have the ability to put their birthing on hold – if they are somehow uncomfortable or startled (whether it be from a class happening in the building or a train passing down the road) they can pause the process until they’re more relaxed and then continue as if nothing had happened! He told stories of students coming in to check on the horses, leaving for less than an hour, then coming back to a newborn foal! After this we took a brief look at the composting operation, then saw the barn where sheep are held. Mr. Hopkins briefly vented his frustrations about student workers who couldn’t seem to remember something as simple as closing a gate to make sure no animals got out, but quickly got back on track and told us all about sheep mating, using their wool for blankets, and the general care of the sheep. Last, but certainly not least, we were brought to the barn that houses the angus beef cattle. I never realized how curious animal’s cows are – while he was giving us an overview of their beef operation a cute group of three or four young cows made their way over to use to check us out and see what we were up to.
The trip ended back on south campus where Dr. Isaacs treated everyone in the class to their choice of sweets from UDairy, the University of Delaware’s creamery. Considering it didn’t get up past 50 degrees, many of us decided to get a comforting cup of hot chocolate or apple cider – myself included! This field trip was by far the most interesting one to me, mostly because many people don’t realize how much actual farming is done in the middle of Newark, DE, and being able to see it firsthand reinforced my decision of pursuing agriculture.