School is in session at the farm
On a crisp October morning, Jenna Pike is making the rounds for her assortment of farm animals on Splitting Acres Ranch.
"Everybody here has a job," she explained as she coddled one of her rabbits.
This local small farm offers children of all ages a chance to explore and become informed about the animals – with an interactive learning experience.
"We are a farm where kids of all ages and adults can come and get to know all about animal husbandry and welfare, and the important contributions animals make to our land and lives," indicated a recent news release about Spitting Acres Farms.
During this time of concerns around traditional and online education, Farm School aims to offer an educational outlet that allows families and children a place where they can explore and learn in an outdoor environment.
"I wanted to do this farm school to teach people where their meat comes from, the quality of animal welfare and how we believe animals should be raised," explained Pike of the reasons for initiating the farm school. "We have a high respect for animals because they do feed us and take care of us in many different ways, so we thought they deserved our respect."
"It's more than just meat," added Catrina Sneva, marketing specialist for Splitting Acres Ranch—and also sister to Pike.
Pike began her journey into ranching and farming when she and her husband lived in Sisters. After she sustained a brain injury, she was encouraged to continuously learn as part of her recovery.
"I thought it was a great opportunity to learn how to take care of all these animals, and provide the best environment for them, and provide great tasting meat."
She indicated that they began selling their meat approximately six years ago, and they recently bought the land in Crook County and moved to Mountain View Acres in March. They are offering an open-house style visitation for groups. Currently, they have 128 animals at their small farm, including alpacas, miniature horses, chickens, rabbits, pigs, goats, and they even have two black-nosed Valais sheep from Switzerland.
"Get out here, and essentially pretty much see, smell, touch and experience these animals," she said of the structure of the animal farm environment.
Pike emphasized that they want to be able to show the entire experience of raising an animal from gestation to market. They constantly have some baby animals for visitors to see.
"We are here to teach you. That is our plan. Bring your questions."
Sneva also pointed out that they have put up fact sheets on the animal pens—especially for groups who want to do a more independent tour. Pike really wants to also reach out to individuals with special needs. They are setting up a curriculum for traditional and homeschooled groups to do field trips as a scheduled visit during the week.
The farm is donation-based, and they also provide worksheets for the students while they are there. If there is a question they did not think of about a certain animal, they can send in the question and they will get a response.
The farm is a family-based enterprise, and they are currently looking for volunteers to help with animals during open house tours. Pike has two young children, so she can often use some extra help during tours. Sneva and her daughter, Isabel, help a great deal with the farm as well. Pike and her husband have property across the other side of Mountain View Acres, where they have their horses and alpacas.
Pike noted that they have worked a great deal to help socialize their animals, and all the animals can be hand-fed.
"Pretty much everybody can be hand fed as well. There is lots of interactions available with these animals."
Farm School is located at 9250 Mountain View Acres in Prineville.
Field trips and tours can be scheduled ahead by calling Catrina Sneva at 917-796-0700.
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