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Fiddlesticks Farms educates children about agriculture - Odessa American: News

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A day in the country Fiddlesticks Farms educates children about agriculture

Hundreds of children a day visit attraction

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Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2015 11:00 am

Visitors to Fiddlesticks Farms can find out if faaarm living is the life for them, to quote the theme song from Green Acres.

The attraction, located outside Midland, features, among other things, goats, cows, corn mazes, hayrides, jumping pillows, a pumpkin patch, duck and pig races — though not at the same time — and a learning barn where visitors can view a cow being milked.

Hundreds of people of all ages visit the farm daily and new items are added every year.

The second annual homeschool/preschool day, hosted Oct. 12, brought people out from throughout the Permian Basin.

Roxanna Martinez, with the Crossroads Corral, associated with CrossRoads Fellowship church, brought her son and daughter. “I like it. We liked it last year. My son loves it,” Martinez said. She added that this as the first year her 1-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Hannah, could enjoy it.

Four-year-old Armando Martinez liked the tractor and large sandbox and was excited about the upcoming hayride.

Many parents said they enjoyed the farm because it offers so many activities for children.

In the learning barn, children sat in rapt attention as Matt Norton, who co-owns the farm with his wife, Jessica, demonstrated cow milking with Hershey, a crossbred dairy cow.

Norton said Hershey eats 65 to 75 pounds of feed a day and can drink the equivalent of a bath tub full of water in the same time period.

He asked everyone in the barn to sing “Happy Birthday” to give him enough time to wash Hershey’s udders thoroughly enough to milk her.

“Everything she eats goes to making milk,” Matt Norton said. He added that milk is stored in a cow’s udders and a cow has four stomachs.

Following the milking demonstration, Norton called everyone out for a greased pig race, for which the animals were motivated by a treat of milk and cookies.

Anna Goertzen brought her two sons, Aaron, 7, and Ethan, 5, to Fiddlesticks.

“We’re here with a homeschool group from Seminole, and so far, we’re having fun,” Goertzen said.

Morgan and Ryon Jackson had their two daughters, 10-year-old Rion and 7-year-old Laila in tow.

“It’s awesome,” Morgan said. “It’s really educational.”

“The staff is very friendly,” Ryon added.

“I like all the activities,” Morgan said. “Everything is geared toward the kids.”

The corn maze was the girls’ favorite feature, along with the greased pig race.

“I think it’s awesome,” Rion said.

People who work at Fiddlesticks said there is a family atmosphere.

“It’s a good place to work. It feels welcoming,” said Bianca Marquez, who was manning the corn maze with Jaydon Coleman, a Greenwood high school student.

“It’s so family oriented,” Marquez added.

Liz Kliner, a staff member from Greenwood, said she helps run the school field trips, touring students around the farm.

“What drew me out here was being able to work with the kids and work outside on the farm.”

Kliner added that the children have an innocence and sense of wonder about them.

“It’s fun to see the kids light up, especially when they see the cow milking demonstration. The fun part is watching the kids,” Kliner said.

Jessica Norton said this is Fiddlesticks’ eighth season. She and her husband started the enterprise out of a desire to teach others about agriculture. Both had farming experience raising cotton, wheat, hay and commercial watermelons and cantaloupe.

The 80-acre farm includes 15 acres of corn maze and a 10-acre pumpkin patch, she said.

“We wanted to educate and them thought this would be a fun way to educate them,” she said.

With the preschool/homeschool day, those attending can go through the farm at their own pace. The field trips with school groups are more structured.

The farm has 13 employees and each one takes a group, or part of a group, through each activity. They make sure everyone gets a chance to wend their way through the corn maze and receive the lessons of the learning barn.

 “The kids are learning and they don’t realize they’re learning, or what they’re learning,” Jessica Norton said. “It’s not a typical educational experience. It’s a hands-on experience. That’s probably what I like the most. They get to learn by doing and you get to see the joy on their faces when they see a hen lays eggs” and see that eggs don’t come from the store.

It’s also a family affair for the Nortons. She and Matt have two children, 3-year-old Trail and 12-week-old Crease.

“It’s just a big family environment,” Jessica Norton said. “Our 3-year-old was out running around playing with all the kids out there.”


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