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Friday, April 26, 2013

Flat Aggie Adventures in the Bluegrass State


 Flat Aggie is back and she took a friend with her to visit Kentucky.  Hold on to your hats kids, because she got some new clothes for the trip, too.   If you are new to Tales of A Kansas Farm Mom, Flat Aggie has been sent from a Kansas First Grade Class to learn about agriculture.  Here is a link to the Introduction of Flat Aggie if you want to learn more.  We are looking for hosts for next year and I welcome you to fill out my contact form if you are interested. -A Kansas Farm Mom

 Mrs. Piatt and classmates,
I’ve been very busy the past few weeks traveling to farms around the country. This week it was time for me to visit Kentucky.
I met up with Danielle Beard in Miami, Oklahoma. In order to be road trip ready, Danielle painted my nails red, handed me a pair of sunglasses, fastened my seatbelt and we were Kentucky bound!
The trip from Oklahoma was over eight hours. And let me tell you, that’s a long time to be stuck in the truck, especially with Danielle’s singing.
We arrived at Hayden Farms in western Kentucky. Hayden Farms is owned and operated by the Hayden family and specializes in growing cattle and chickens.
Upon arriving, we went straight to work, helping Daniel Hayden haul hay for his neighbors. Since I was there to help on the farm, the Hayden’s gave me Muck boots and my very own Hayden Farms shirt to wear. 
My first job was to help back the truck to the hay trailer. It’s not as easy as it looks, but after a few tries I got it right. 

Next, we loaded up in Daniel’s very muddy tractor and moved round hay bales from inside the barn to the hay trailer.
While I rode in Daniel’s pocket most of the time, he did let me drive the tractor once.
Later, I helped feed cows. It was fun, but the cows and their calves wanted to lick and smell me, like I was food ...and I didn’t particularly care for that.

Hayden Farms also has four chicken houses. Each house holds 25,000 birds. So that’s 100,000 chickens! The chickens are delivered when they are only an hour old, and live at Hayden Farms for six weeks until they are full grown. Then a couple of weeks after they leave, a whole new load of baby chicks is delivered.

A few automatic water lines run through each house so the chickens always have access to fresh water, feed lines also run through the houses and periodically fill all the feed bowls throughout the day.
One thing I learned during my stay at Hayden Farms is chickens can be very demanding. Each chicken house is full of different types of sensors and controlled by a computer system. Anytime one of the sensors detects an unwanted change in things like temperature, water or feed, the computer will call Daniel’s cell phone and tell him which house needs him. During my stay one of the sensors quit working so ‘House 2’ called constantly. At all hours, including 4 a.m., which is when I like to sleep! 

Each time the chickens called, Daniel went to check on them, no matter what the weather was like or what time it was.

Farmers care about their animals so it’s important to them to make sure everything is always okay.

I had always thought chicken house would be smelly. However, once I was inside I didn’t notice much of a smell at all. Daniel says that is due to the industrial size fans on either ends of the houses that keep the air constantly changing.
When I was in Kentucky, all the chickens were four weeks old. That means they had lost most of their baby fluff and were growing adult feathers. The way Daniel explained it is like they were in their awkward teenage years. He says in a couple of weeks they will have grown into their feet and be white and fluffy. 



When we weren’t feeding cows and checking on chickens, we all went to the coal mine. In Kentucky, coal mining is a very important part of the economy. The Hayden’s have a coal mine right behind their house! Coal is used in generating electricity, creating iron and steel, plant fertilizer, concrete and even shampoo. 



Also, in our free time, Daniel, Danielle and I went turkey hunting. We had to wear lots of camouflage because turkeys have excellent eyesight. I decided I better paint my face too, in order to be completely concealed.


Petting Duke, the Hayden’s Catahoula, was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Duke is known as the neighborhood dog, he walks to nearby farms and homes to play with their children and grandchildren.

A big part of a successful farm is done in the office. Joan Hayden, let me sit at her desk where she keeps all the records, and does the accounting for Hayden Farms.

Sunday it was time for the drive back to Kansas, it was such an eventful week that I slept most of the trip. Kentucky was so much fun, I wish I could’ve stayed longer to learn more, but the Hayden’s said I was welcome back anytime! 

Thanks for letting Flat Aggie road trip with me to Hayden Farms! If you have any questions let me know, I’ll get them answered for y’all! -Danielle Beard

You can find me on Twitter @danibeard or my blog HighHeelsandShotgunShells.wordpress.com

For more on Hayden Farms follow Daniel @dhayden09 or David @Davidhayden7 and at farmingamerica.org.

I really owe my friends a great deal of thanks for helping with this project!  Danielle talked Daniel into this and I am very thankful.  All my friends have done a great job showing the diversity of American Agriculture.  Be sure to check back the next 2 weeks for the final reports from Flat Aggie as she visits California and Delaware.  The kids will really see diversity next week especially from the corn, wheat, and soybean Kansas they are used to seeing.


Be sure to check out Flat Aggie's other adventures in American Agriculture: