Program in Kane County gives participants look at farm life

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With the work and school week over for many, Saturday is often a day to sleep in, but for visitors to the Primrose Farm in St. Charles Township, the work day was well underway by 8 a.m.
“I’ve never milked a cow or gathered eggs so this is going to be fun,” said Juliet Jeanblanc of Wheaton on Saturday. “I’m looking forward to all of it, but when my mom told me we were going to be doing this today I didn’t want to wake up that early. Usually, I’m in bed until about 9. My mom had to wake me up. I was a little crabby.”
From 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Primrose Farm at 5N726 Crane Road, in conjunction with the St. Charles Park District, offered a farming adventure for a dozen participants as a “Wake Up and Work” program was held for the first time this year after being rolled out last spring.
A format of classic farm chores was featured including feeding animals, milking cows and collecting eggs.
Once chores were done, staff at the farm offered a hearty country breakfast of waffles, bacon, fruit and more for those who had worked up an early morning appetite.
Patty Kennedy, program supervisor at Primrose, said she created the program last year and that two spring sessions were held in 2023.
“It went over pretty well and so we decided we’d do it again this year. Once again, we have a full roster of 12 people which is fun and exciting. We thought this would be great for parents and children to do some chores around the farm,” Kennedy said. “Milking cows and feeding animals and collecting eggs – we thought this would be fun. We don’t have a very large space, but we wanted to try this again.”
Kennedy said the spring is the best time to offer the event “as we have calves now on site and some baby lambs as well as baby chicks.”
“It’s one of those things where the public gets to see these farm elements up close and really get interested in these types of animals during the spring,” she said. “These are things a lot of people don’t get to do, and I think the contact with the animals is pretty interesting for people and they get to experience agriculture. They get a chance to know where milk comes from and maybe a chicken will actually lay an egg. We have sheep and there’s wool and they touch that and realize where a blanket comes from. It’s that connection.”
Parents as well as kids expressed their enthusiasm for what they were about to experience on Saturday.
Juliet’s mother Maureen Jeanblanc said this was the family’s first visit to the farm and that it was arranged “because we love animals and we wish to instill a sense of giving back in our family.”
“We try to volunteer about once a month and this is our activity for this month because we wanted to teach kids what’s important,” Jeanblanc said. “This is very different from our life in Wheaton – it’s better.”
Kit Bingham, who works at the farm and led Saturday’s program, talked about one of the cows that was going to milked and explained that morning process “can produce more than 30 pounds of milk.”
“That’s about three gallons – but she wavers,” Bingham said.
Maureen’s husband Brad Jeanblanc said he has some experience with farm work.
“I’ve done the chores thing a bit as kid when I visited my grandparents,” he said. “As far as doing that kind of work, there were expectations. They expected you to do things. You took care of it, you did it. It wasn’t always fun but you were part of a family and everybody pitched in. I’ve not milked a cow so hey, it’s like, let’s do it.”
Diana Leska of Chicago came out to the farm to enjoy the morning and said the family came “all this way” because her daughter Luna, 7, wanted to do some things on a farm.
“Of course I wanted to come. Obviously, there’s not a lot of farms in Chicago so I was checking out farms with kids’ activities and this farm came up,” she said. “This is different. We don’t do this every day but it’s exciting to do these things.”
“I’m excited to milk a cow,” Luna said.
Luna’s grandmother Anna Szafaryn of Niles said her mother grew up on a farm.
“I’m looking forward to this and it’s going to be fun to watch my granddaughter,” she said. “It’s very educational and fun.”
David Sharos is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.

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