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November 12, 2008 > Cows in Fremont?

Cows in Fremont?

Dairies, ranches, farms and orchards were prevalent in the Washington Township (Tri-City area) until growth steadily replaced them with houses and non-agricultural businesses. At that time, knowledge of where food originated was no mystery to children. A glance around the neighborhood told them that meals came from a variety of sources: fruit from trees, vegetables from plants, meat from animals and milk from goats and cows. Times have changed and while the concept of farming and animal husbandry may be taught, practical knowledge is often lost. For some, a local grocery store is the origin of food; not much thought beyond grocery carts, shelves and aisles. Where farms once flourished, only a few small reminders such as Perry Farms at Ardenwood and Ramirez Farm on Walnut Ave. and Guardino Dr. continue to operate.

Another reminder of where food comes from arrived in Fremont as Ellie and Della "moo"ved" to three local schools last week. As a part of the Dairy Council of California's Mobile Dairy Classroom, "Electron," aka "Ellie," a full-grown Holstein cow and "Della," a young calf spent time at Niles Elementary, Brier Elementary and Warm Springs Elementary schools. Jeff Byers of Moonglow Dairy in Moss Landing brought these bovine representatives to demonstrate how cows eat, chew their "cud" - "the loneliest word in the dictionary" according to Byers - and produce milk. Moonglow Dairy is one of the farms that supplies milk to Berkeley Farms in Hayward.

At each school, as a side panel of the specially outfitted trailer slid up to allow a close view of Ellie, a collective sigh of appreciation could be heard from the young audiences. All paid rapt attention as Byers explained the digestive system of cows and Ellie demonstrated by calmly chewing, swallowing then bringing food ("cud") back from her "first" stomach for more chewing. Cows are "ruminants," said Byers. This type of animal has a specialized stomach divided into four compartments. He noted that this group of cud chewers includes sheep and, his favorite, giraffes. The presentation explained the types of food Ellie eats along with how green plants grow using the energy of sunlight through a process called "photosynthesis."

While Ellie calmly stood for inspection, Byers led Della from the trailer. The little calf nursed from a bottle to the delight of the students and at Bier Elementary School was gently tended by fourth grade student Andrew Hawkins as students came by to pet her. Minutes spent with these representatives of the dairy industry reminded students to respect animals and appreciate them as companions as well as a source of food. As students left Ellie and Della to return to classrooms, all had a bit more appreciation for the important role of animals in our lives.

For more information about the Dairy Council of California or schedule a mobile classroom visit to your school, visit www.dairycouncilofca.org.


Note: Since many pictures were taken during the mobile classroom visit to Fremont and TCV was unable to print them all, they are posted at www.tricityvoice.com.

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