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Natural Perspectives: Centennial Farm at fair is fun, educational

August 03, 2011|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray
(Courtesy Lou Murray )

Vic and I spent a fantastic day at the Orange County Fair this past Sunday. We went with our son Scott, his wife, Nicole, and their three preschoolers, Allison, Lauren and Megan. This was the girls' first visit to the O.C. Fair, although they've attended the San Diego County Fair at Del Mar in the past.

We made Centennial Farm our first destination, because of the large variety of farm animals there. I asked the girls what they wanted to see most at the fair.

"I want to see a pig's heinie," announced 5-year-old Lauren.

"Yes," Allison, her twin sister, agreed. "They're funny."

I must confess, I've never found any humor in a pig's back end. But if that's what the girls wanted to see, that's where we would go. However, we started with the dairy cattle because they were the first animals the girls saw. Centennial Farm maintains a small herd of Holsteins so schoolchildren can see milking demonstrations throughout the year.

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The girls got to pet a Jersey cow. That is one of the milking breeds of cattle. But most of the milking herd at Centennial Farm is made up of Holsteins, probably because they produce the most milk per cow. At the milking demonstration, we learned that the cows are milked twice a day and produce about 10 gallons of milk a day.

The little girls were fascinated by the newly hatched baby chicks in a brooder. But the hens in the large enclosure were no big deal for them because their Papa Tom and Nana Patty in San Diego and their Papa Vic and Nana Lou maintain laying hens that they can pet and feed. The girls know which greens to pull from my garden to feed our hens, and they insist on doing that first thing when they come to visit us. Gathering eggs is second, and picking produce from my garden rounds out their visit to our tiny backyard farmlet.

But they had never petted a baby chick. They got that opportunity at the fair. One of the volunteers held a baby chick for children to pet. The girls wanted to pet everything. They found the Angora goats and sheep cooperative in that regard, and they enjoyed feeling the wool. But the Holstein calves were resting out of their reach, and so were the llamas, rabbits and pigs.

One sow had given birth to two little piglets during the fair. The baby pigs were in their creep, which is a safe wooden enclosure in the corner of the pen that prevents the sow from rolling over on them and crushing them. Out of the three adult sows, one had her backside aimed at the crowd.

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