NH Ag in the Classroom's Newsletter

APRIL 2011 


In This Issue
Guest Article
The Bookshelf


  Agriculture Literacy Day was officially in mid-March, but readers and farmers will continue to enjoy visiting schools throughout the state into April. To date, well over 100 NHAITC volunteers have visited schools and libraries from the North Country to the southern border and from the Connecticut River to the Seacoast, within all 10 counties. We will have final numbers next month, but we can tell you nowbee book cover that nearly all of the 200 books ordered have been distributed, and thousands of children have been delighted -hearing and seeing poetry, prose and accurate artistic pictorials of the hardworking honey bees.

We send a special thank you to all who helped make this happen. We are grateful to all the teachers, principals and supervisors for opening your doors and welcoming us into your classrooms and libraries. We hope that we can continue to building together more understanding of the importance of agriculture in our every day lives.

  We could not have had the educational impact and broad coverage of the state without a strong partnership with the NH Beekeepers Association and its regional groups. Many members brought equipment, including their bee suits and smokers, hives and sometimes even live bees into classrooms to compliment the reading of the book, In the Trees, Honey Bees.  

  Farm Bureau members from many counties were also active participants, including the Associated Women and Young Farmers. Additional readers included students from the NH Future Farmers of America (FFA), NHAITC board members, friends and, for her second year, even the NH Commissioner of Agriculture, Lorraine Merrill. Commissioner Merrill read to the 3rd and 4th graders at the Beaver Meadow School in Concord in honor of National Agriculture Day on March 15.

  Again,we thank you all for a very sweet experience which got students buzzing about agriculture, while knowing that your efforts brought ample rewards simultaneously through the smiles and fascinated reactions of the youngsters. If you have thoughts about a topic or accurate book for Ag Literacy Week for 2012, feel free to pass any suggestions along.



Board and staff of NHAITC


Websites & Lessons Worth A Peek

Chicken Facts 

A mature male chicken is called a rooster or cock or roo.  


A mature female chicken is called a hen. A chick is a newly hatched chicken. An immature male chicken is called a cockerel and an immature female chicken a pullet.


A chicken is a bird. There are over 150 varieties of domestic chickens. They were domesticated about 8000 years ago.


A chickens' heart beats 280-315 times a minute. A chickens' body temperature runs at 102-103 degrees F. A rooster takes 18-20 breaths a minute, a hen 30-35.


Hens will lay eggs without a rooster, but there must be a rooster to have fertile eggs  that can produce chicks.


Chickens are not capable of sustained flight. The longest recorded flight of a chicken is thirteen seconds. A chicken can travel up to 9 miles per hour.


All domestic chickens can be genetically traced to Gallus Gallus, The Red Jungle Fowl. The chicken is the closest living relative of the t-rex.


Chickens come in an infinite variety of colors and patterns. There are seven distinctive types of combs on them: rose, strawberry, single, cushion, buttercup, pea and V-shaped.


Chickens make sounds with actual meaning. They give different alarm calls when threatened by different predators. A rooster will attack anything that he thinks will harm the hens. Their spurs (located at the back of their leg) can cause a very painful puncture wound.


A hen can live up to 20 years. She will lay eggs her entire life, with the number decreasing every year from year one.


Chickens lay different colored eggs, from white, to brown, to green, to pink, to blue. The color of a hen's first egg is the color she will lay for life. It takes a hen 24-26 hours to lay an egg.


A chicken finds it very important to have a private nest. She builds her nest by first scratching a hole in the ground.  She will then pick up twigs and leaves, which she will drop on her back. Back in the hole she will let the material slide off her back around the rim.


It takes a chick 21 days to develop in the egg. It starts developing when it reaches a temperature of 88 degrees F. A mother hen begins bonding with her chicks before they are even born. She will turn her egg as often as five times an hour and cluck to her unborn chicks, who will chirp back to her and to one another.


If a rooster is not present in a flock of hens, a hen will often take the role, stop laying, and begin to crow.


A chicken can have 4 or 5 toes on each foot.


Chickens have more bones in their necks than giraffes. They have no teeth and swallow their food whole. Part of their stomach is used to grind their food up.


Chickens are very social animals. They will fight to protect their family and will mourn when a loved one is lost.


In England the poultry keeper usually calls her flock "my  chooks"!


There are more chickens than people in the world.

Chickens and Eggs

     You probably will not solve the questions of "who came first? The chicken or the egg" and "why did the chicken cross the road?" when you hatch eggs or raise hatchlings in your classrooms, but you absolutely can have a delightful, even warm and fuzzy, time observing the beginnings of life. At the Farm Bureau booth at the NH Farm and Forest Expo, at NH fairs or The Big E, there has always been an endless crowd of all ages fascinated enough to linger watching wherever there is a display setup of young birds, whether or not they are pecking out of the eggs or have already arrived.

     With the renewed interest in growing more of one's own food, fertile eggs are more available than ever before. Feed and agriculture supply stores, even many horse tack shops! are taking orders now for a huge variety of breeds of newly hatched chicks and ducklings. We do have at the NHAITC office three incubators available for use, on a first come first served basis.

     The one caution we must mention is that you consider ahead of time where those babies will go when they outgrow your accommodations. It is cute for kids to take one or 2 home, but rarely are the needs met that way. Most animals and birds are much happier with a buddy. As a preteen I adopted Easter ducklings a few times and did keep them for a number of years, learning much about having the responsibility for the lives of other creatures, but I had my dad's support and other family members who would feed and change their water when I had to make arrangements to be away.

     On a larger scale, parents may sympathize with the efforts involved in getting ready for a baby sitter so that you can go on a special date without the children. I remember sometimes feeling after writing down all the directions and the numbers, preparing their meal ahead, laying out the pj's, explaining how to cut off their excuses for not staying in bed, and all the other possible antics, that it was all too much bother to be worth even going. I am trying to get all my ducks in a row right now so that I can be gone from the farm for 2 days at the regional Ag In The Classroom conference. Only now it is 4 legged family: 22 sheep, 9 lambs, 1 alpaca, 1 mini donkey, 1 angora bunny, 1 cat, and 1 Aussie dog (who fiercely guards the house when I am not here) spread out in 5 separate paddocks with shelters, pens, house and mudroom (and none with automatic waters).

     Nevertheless, this time I know it will be worth it. We will connect with other state leaders committed to providing help for teachers to open the minds of youngsters and enable them to understand and appreciate the vital roles agriculture plays in all of our lives, so that they can make better informed decisions now and in the future. I look forward to not only fresh ideas, but also to ourselves being inspired to springboard into developing new projects with the knowledge that we are not wasting our time reinventing what is already out there and available for sharing at our fingertips.

     Meanwhile, we remind all of you that we look forward to your suggestions and questions. We are here to help you, to be a bridge between the classrooms, including home schools, and the world of agriculture -- the 2% of Americans who feed and clothe you besides providing much of your fuel and housing, not to mention playing an immeasurable part in preserving the beauty of our country. We look forward to hearing from you.


Jozi Best


.  Ruth and I spent a most fruitful 15 hours over 2 days in Ithaca, NY at Cornell University with the AITC contacts and coordinators from 4  New England states, New York, New Jersey,  Pennsylvania, Maryland, and by phone, West Virginia and Delaware. Each state has  its  very own unique programs, yet the exchange of ideas all aimed at our common mission was truly energizing and will certainly strengthen our focus.  We even agreed to begin developing a project or two that we could all use and, more importantly,  apply for larger grants that are aimed at just such cooperative planning. 


Greetings from the Longhaul farm in Holderness, NH

     With the hint of spring in the air we can all relish the thoughts of the warmth of a day full of good sun and the glow our hearts will feel as we turn our attention to life budding around us.

     This is a perfect time to stir up the interest of the inquisitive minds in your classrooms with thoughts of how they too may become an important part of the flourishing of life surrounding them. The concept of local food supply and growing and raising your own foods may be a wonderful window in to the world of agriculture. Where do those potatoes and carrots actually come from, who raised my food, how many miles and how many gallons of fuel were consumed before it arrived on my plate at dinner? Was my food grown with or without pesticides, or raised in humane and healthy environment? Do I know a farmer, is my family a farm family, could I too become a farmer, what might I do in my own back yard to grow some of my own foods?

     Numerous fields of activities may be generated with a local seed catalog and the concept of growing a small portion of food "in my own back yard", or even in pots on the deck! Beginning with the students' favorite vegetables or flowers, the discussion of proper light and soil conditions, growing patterns, length of time to maturity or special needs may all become part of the research process. Calculating the quantities of one special crop that might meet the needs of their families to feed them for one week, one month, or one year. How many feet would they need to plant, how would they store the finished crop, who would buy it? It is never too early to stir the interest in the next great entrepreneur!

     Classroom activities this time of year can be quite exciting to watch as the coming of spring makes everyone yearn to be outside. Germinating seed on a windowsill; maintaining charts and taking daily temperature readings of inside and outside, as well as soil conditions; observing changes in sunlight and day length as well as the sun's angle; discussing seed viability and proper storage techniques; conducting online interviews with a local farmer; inviting a local farmer or chef into the classroom to meets students; preparing a meal to share with locally sourced foods ; creating maps to identify the location and current sources of the foods being served at your school; generating ideas for your own school to open the doors to the Farm To School project. These ideas only begin to chip away at an amazing list of opportunities for you in your classroom. Please feel free to contact us at The Longhaul if we can be of any assistance to you and your students.

     Locals farms with or without greenhouses are a great place to visit this time of year. Consider contacting a local farm to offer a day to visit and become part of the work force needed that day. Many hands do much work, and this is a great way to open the eyes of our younger generations as to how it all begins at the farm. We have several schools in our area that visit us throughout the year and take part in any activity we have ongoing at the time of their visit. We cherish explaining the ins and outs of what we are doing and then share in the fun of actually allowing the students to take part in the process. It always makes us chuckle how much the students love to get right into the project with their hearts and souls, never leaving as tidy and clean as they once arrives. Our most recent visit was from The Pemi Baker Academy in Plymouth, NH. The students were an amazing help in our greenhouse. We sorted seed, cleaned trays and benches, brought in many loads of compost, and generally brought new excitement into a cold spring day. We are in the process of creating an ongoing Farm to Classroom experience with the PBA . We are extremely excited to have numerous scheduled visits with them for the remainder of the school year.

     Every spring the Fifth Grade of Holderness central School visits us at The Longhaul as part of their Environmental Education Camp to partake in a day of creative gardening. Last year we rallied to create a new bean hut using freshly cut saplings, and they filled planters and various containers for some of our display gardens. Students have planted potatoes, prepped garden beds, and planted seedlings in the past...Greenhouse clean up in the fall is extremely helpful as well. Whatever is on our to-do list, many hands make for great help on our Farm. There are great opportunities and learning experiences to be shared while visiting any farm.

     You folks as teachers play a huge role in the future spunk and spirit of your students. Our hats go off to you for all you do in our school systems. Keep up the good work and may your crop be bountiful and rewarding! Please feel free to contact us if we may be of any help to you as the seasons unfold.

Much Health and Happiness,

Lorri Downs and H.O.Lenentine

~ Longhaul Farm~


Thank you, Lorri for this guest article.

( Printing this does not imply an endorsement by NHAITC)

The work day idea may fit some requirements for students for "service' projects. I have had some similar heartwarming experiences at my farm which led to a gratifying ongoing relationship with our school. There are indeed many local farms who will be just as welcoming as ours, just waiting for your interest. Jozi


The Bookshelf

Chickens Have Chicks by Pat Cupples 

 An introduction to the life cycle of chickens from birth as chicks, to adults, describing their appearance, feeding habits, and growth.





Chicks and Chickens


by Lynn M. Stone

 An introduction to the physical characteristics, behavior, and life cycle of chickens, as well as a discussion of how chickens are raised on farms.




Chickens on the Farm by Mari C. Schuh

 Simple text and photographs present chickens and how they are raised.






Face to Face With the Chicken

by Christian Harvard


4  - 7  

Did you know that all chickens are part of a pecking order? In this young science book children will learn about the life cycle of barnyard chickens from egg to chick to adult. Readers can test their knowledge with the quiz at the end of the book.







From Egg to Chicken by Robin Nelson 


With large, vivid photographs that correspond to simple, short sentences, Start to Finish reveals the life cycles and processes behind the common, everyday things that beginning readers see in the world around them. Supports the national science education standards Unifying Concepts and Processes; Form and Function; Science as Inquiry; Life Science; and Science and Technology as outlined by the National Academics of science and endorsed by the National Science Teachers Association.