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Pupils get peek of Farm Fun Fest

September 12, 1998|By DON AINES

SCOTLAND, Pa. - Drew Holmes looked over the rail of a pen where two young pigs dozed in the sawdust.

"This is what I came to see," the fourth-grader from the Scotland School for Veterans Children said.

Informed they could grow to several hundred pounds, Drew said, "Yeah, but they're going to get killed when they get older. I think that's kind of rude. I only eat chicken."

Life on the farm has its own sights, sounds and smells, and 600 fourth-graders from Chambersburg elementary schools and the Scotland School got a preview of what 2,000 or more people will see today at the eighth annual Franklin Fall Farm Fun Fest.

This year the event is being held at the Burk-Lea Farms of Stanley and Janice Burkholder, 3099 Grand Point Road. Tours of the 350-acre farm run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Janice Burkholder said her family farms an additional 500 acres it rents and milks 460 Holsteins a day.

"It's an opportunity for farmers to tell the real story of agriculture to consumers," said Anna Swailes, of Willow Hill, Pa. She and her husband, Bill, hosted the first Fun Fest and co-chaired the committee for this year's event.

"It's not just a day off from school. It's an education," Titus Martin, a Fayetteville, Pa., farmer said of Friday's student tours.

Among the first lessons: Watch your step.

"I just stepped in cow dung!" screamed one girl.

The Fun Fest is a mix of education and entertainment. Visitors can see how sonograms are used on cattle, genetic research with seeds, global positioning equipment and other tools of the modern farmer.

There will also be hayrides, a hay maze, refreshments and a barnyard display of baby goats, sheep, pigs, calves and chickens.

E.J. Helman, a vocational-agricultural student at Chambersburg Area Senior High School, was one of about 16 students helping to conduct Friday's tours. He said many students, some who had never seen a farm, wanted to know why the cows' tails were cut off.

He told them it keeps the tails from getting in the manure and flinging it around.

Dr. J. Stanley Stratton showed off the equipment used to cut off those tails, de-horn cattle and give them pills that would choke, well, a cow.

Students were curious about magnets farmers make the cows swallow. He said the magnets remain in the cows' stomachs, attracting and holding nails and other pieces of metal they might eat.

The Fun Fest attracts a diverse crowd. Last year Anna Swailes said was approached by two men from New York City while she was being interviewed live on radio.

"I'm 31 years old and I've never hand-milked a cow," one of the men told her.

Visitors will have that opportunity today.

Signs are posted from Exit 8 of Interstate 81 to the Fun Fest, according to Swailes.

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