My little sister is quite possibly the coolest person on Earth - at the moment she's tied with Dr. Jim Nelssen but she's only 6 and 3/4 so she has lots of time to move up. On the rare occasions that I get to see her, sometimes she'll go with me to feed horses. We all know how kids are - they're the best exercisers of who, what, where, when, why and how. Meaning, they ask TONS of questions. I've recounted one particular experience below when we were doing the evening chores.
K - What are we gonna do now?
B- Feed the horses.
K - Why?
B - Because it's supper time
K - Horses eat supper?
B - Yep - just like you. We always make sure we feed the horses first, then we eat.
K - Are they having squetti (spaghetti) too?
B - Nope - we're giving them corn and oats.
K - Why don't they get squetti?
B - Because horses don't like spaghetti and these corn and oats will give them lots of energy to chase calves and run around and play. There is some molasses in there too.
K - Mlasses? What's Mlasses?
B - MOlasses. Say MOlasses.
K - MA lasses.
B - Close enough. Molasses is a type of sweetener that makes the horse's food taste better.
K - Like sugar on rice krispies?
B - Exactly.
At this point, the conversation turned to rice krispies and then she went to play with the kittens. When I started feeding hay, she came back....round 2!
K- Why is that grass made into a square?
B - This grass is a kind of hay, and this square is called a flake.
K - What does it do?
B - It gives them minerals and nutrients to keep their body healthy. Kind of like your Flinstone vitamins.
K - Why can't you just give them a Barney Rubble?
B - Because Barney Rubble is for little girls and hay is for horses. This hay also keeps Doc (my A-team breakaway horse) and his friends from colicking.
K - What is cowlicking.
B - Colicking - not cowlicking. We don't lick cows. Colic is when a horse gets a tummy ache because he ate too much corn and molasses and oats. Hay keeps him from getting the tummy ache. Do you know how it feels when you've eaten too many cookies?
K - I wanna eat cookies all day.
B - Fine. Remember what it feels like to drink too much pop and your belly feels yucky?
K - Yes. It makes my tummy hurt.
B - Ok. When Doc gets colicky, he feels like you do when you've had too much pop.
K - Oh ok. Don't give Doc any of my orange pop.
At this point, it was time to water and blanket the horses for the evening (this conversation took place over Thanksgiving break last fall) which led to questions/answers about why we blanketed the horse, why the blanket had straps, how the horse laid down/got up, how does the horse know it's time to wake up, etc. While very amusing, I'll leave that out for length's sake.
I think it is very important to answer questions that youngsters have. Sometimes we get caught up with our daily routine and forget that the young mind is a sponge - we should saturate that sponge with knowledge while kids are willing to listen to what we have to say. With a society so far removed from agriculture, we need to take advantage of every opportunity we have to educate the next generation. K doesn't live on a farm and might never but at least now she knows why horses are fed grains and hay. That's more than a lot of urban adults could tell you. I invite anyone to come help me feed horses in SEK - just be prepared to haul hay, clean stalls and chop ice ;)
All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Native Kansan with a passion for K-State, agriculture, rodeo and life. Two-time K-State alumna with a background in animal science and livestock production combined with a tremendous love for writing and communicating. I find joy in the simple things: sports, hot chocolate, ‘me time’ and a close circle of family and friends. You’ll find an odd assortment of agriculture, rodeo, K-State, cooking, globetrotting and married life on this blog. Good luck finding order in this chaos.