Vera Simon-Nobes, Contributor
Why did the students cross the road? To get to Pine Ridge Farm, of course! Earlier this spring, David and Sue Schermerhorn welcomed a group of 11 Charlotte Central School students to their farm to explore the barn, learn about chickens and even meet a horse! The excursion was an option during CCS’s Exploratory, an event that brings students together in multi-age groups for nontraditional learning experiences on the last day of school before vacation.
As a farmer and educator at Philo Ridge Farm (the old Foote Farm), I have relished the chance to welcome students to our farm through the exploratories over the last couple of years. I was equally excited to help set up a visit to our neighbors at Pine Ridge Farm, which is located directly across from CCS.
The students started their adventure by grinding corn for the chickens. We carefully crossed the street where we met farmers Dave and Sue Schermerhorn and observed their solar panels, chicken yard, gardening hand tools, historic barn, horses and stalls, and hayloft.
This farm-based education exploratory was a science lesson, a social studies adventure, a team- building endeavor, and of course it was plain old fun. Scratching the nose of a horse you see from the school bus window each day and holding a warm, freshly laid egg are experiences that foster curiosity and community. Thank you so much, Dave and Sue, for making this visit possible.
A farm visit in the students’ words
“We were doing Exploratories at school. I was dying to be in “Meet Your Neighbors.” We went next door to the farm across the street. When we got there we wanted to see the chickens! We went to see them, and Vera said we could go in and say hi three at a time. I went first with two other people but the chickens were all out in the yard. I looked in the nesting boxes and found two eggs! The farmers said they would keep them. They were beautiful. One was white and one was brown. That was the greatest time ever.” Sarah, age 8.
“As you enter the room the sweet smell of hay comes through. You see mountains of hay and muddy boots. You realized you have entered the hay bale room. You assume there’s not a lot of room. But there’s a secret about to unfold. The hay doesn’t sit, it goes down. It goes down to the horses and they can’t wait for more to come.” Estelle, age 11.
“Today I saw four horses and I got to pet an Appaloosa. He was named Remedy. Appaloosa is a spotted horse breed. I love horses because I inherited it from my grandmother. Hip hip hooray! Yay horses!” Flossy, age 7.
“I saw one Americana, two longhorns, three Wyandottes in one smallish coop. Two longhorns with side combs tilted to the left, one Americana with a fan tail with some orange color tinted on it, three Wyandottes with silver-like lace arranged around the outside of each feather with perfection.” Lucy, age 14.
“Dear Dave and Sue Schermerhorn,
I like your chickens and horses. I saw four horses at a farm. One of the horses was named Remedy.” Alexis, age 9.
“Dave Schermerhorn of Pine Ridge Farm was a firefighter for the Charlotte Fire Department.” Sawyer, age 11.
“[I noticed] the chicken coop design, and the way they set up the farm.” Zach, age 13.
“It was wonderful to see the inside of the Schermerhorns’ amazing barn and learn a little more of Charlotte’s history. Seeing the variety of breeds and hearing students’ connections was especially wonderful.” Ms. Grey, 6th grade teacher.
Other students who came on the farm visit included Taylor, age 13; Jason, age 12; Mavis, age 7; and Kayden, age 7. Thank you to all the students. They were respectful and thoughtful during our visit.
By the way, did you know: The Schermerhorns’ barn can fit about 1,000 square bales of hay.
In addition to the six chickens they currently have, they will order six new chicks this spring.
Dave Schermerhorn was the chief of the Charlotte Fire Department for 16 years. They use baling twine from hay bales to keep hawks, owls and other aerial predators away from their chicken yard. Electric fence keeps foxes, fisher, raccoons and other ground predators away.