Thursday, April 10, 2003
What will we really be losing?
When Old McDonald said, "Eee-eye-eee-eye-O," it was probably a cry for help. A chick chick here, a chick chick there. Then everywhere a chick chick. Same thing with his cow and duck, as I recall. This happens on a farm.
"No more animals," my sensible son-in-law warned when the barnyard population at their place was a couple of horses, various dogs and a calf. But my granddaughter, the Amazing Rosie, claimed to have spotted a mouse in one of the barns. We agreed (and by we, I mean Rosie and I) that the solution was a cat. Otherwise, there would be a mouse mouse here, a mouse mouse there.
Rosie named the first kitten May, and her subsequent companion April. It turns out we should have named the second kitten Sir April, and it appears that soon there will be a June, July and August.
A costly rescue
Meanwhile, the horse population has grown by one. My daughter, Meg, spotted her in a filthy stall at a stockyard. The little horse's coat was a dull brown, muddy and lumpy with burrs. You could literally see every bone in her body. There is only one presumed destination for a horse that looks like this one. They are purchased for so much per pound.
Meg outbid the butcher and has already spent more on vet bills than she did on the purchase price. But Meg says, "I wasn't looking for a bargain. I was looking for a save." This is what happens if you spend too much time around a farm. The next thing you know, you are tending an animal and finding out how good that feels, a priceless lesson.
Tom Glassman of Wyoming wrote a letter to the editor lamenting the closing of Gorman Heritage Farm in Evendale. He said his sons "have had the opportunity to do everything from feeding and brushing animals, to seeing how food is grown, to splashing in some of the biggest mud puddles ever. In these troubled times, now more than ever, we need a place like Gorman Farm."
Jim Gorman, who died in 2001, wanted kids to know that the real McDonald didn't have golden arches. So, he donated the farm which had been in his family since 1835 to the Cincinnati Nature Center, which opened it up to field trips and families - drawing more than 15,000 people last year.
"We just can't make the money fast enough to break even," said Bill Hopple, CNC's executive director. The farm is scheduled to close mid-August.
If you have not visited, there's still time. Hours and admission info are at www.cincynature.org. Maybe you'll think of a way to rescue it. CNC officials at 831-1711 are still listening, although it costs about $390,000 a year for this bucolic lesson.
So maybe it's not a bargain. But you could think of it as a save. Surely it's just as important for our kids to see a lamb as it is to see a baby okapi. Zoo animals are more exotic, but farm animals are our history, our connection with the way we live.
"Gorman Farm," according to Derric Pennington of Sharonville, "is a place to build community, to work together, to share experiences, and to help one another." As Tom Glassman says, it's exactly what we need right now.
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