On October 8th, 2015, the Farm to Fork and Culinary program at River City High School went on a field trip to the O’Connell Ranch in Colusa, California. On the field trip we got to experience many different ways of farming, different types of fruit, animals, and nutrition. I met a lot of new and awesome people there including the FFA officers & advisor, owners of the O’Connell Ranch, and the President of the Cattle Women’s Association. Having this class and going on this trip was probably the highlight of my year!
When we first got there we were greeted by warm greetings and smiles. We sat down at tables that were set up for us and we were also given brochures, fliers, and fresh fruit from their ranch. The FFA officers from Colusa High School introduced themselves and so did the owners of the O’Connell Ranch, Dan and Barbara O’Connell. They were so happy to have us there and we were all thankful to be there. After they had introduced themselves they had separated us into equal groups of six. Then we went to a station that matched our group number. I was in group six, so our first station was a tour of their beautiful ranch. To go on the tour, we had to get on a little wooden wagon pulled by a tractor with their cattle brand, branded into the side, along with many other cattle brands. On the tour Barbara O’Connell had showed us her lovely fruit trees, cattle, and barn. She has also explained to us the history of the ranch itself. She also took us to the little market she had and gave us a free fruit of our choice. I chose their persimmons and it was the best fruit I have ever tasted.
Then the marvelous Farm to Fork teacher, Ms. McAllister, would ring a cowbell. This signaled the end of our 20 minutes at the station we were at, and we would then rotate to the next station. The next station was a branding station led by Sherry, a member of the Cattle Women’s Association. She taught us how to brand cattle, and what it takes to raise a herd of cattle. She even let us brand a block of wood so we could have the feeling and experience of using the branding tool. The next station was with two members of the FFA staff and they taught us interesting facts about nature, food, and cattle. At the end of the lesson they quizzed our group and whoever got a question right got a piece of candy. Station three was with the President of the FFA staff and she explained to us about pigs. She explained to us what it takes to raise a pig, how they show a pig, and different species of pigs. She also quizzed us at the end and gave candy to the winners. After this station we had lunch and Raley’s sponsored our lunch giving us delicious sandwiches, chips, bananas, water, and a cookie.
Station four and five were petting zoo stations. Station four was about a Hybrid Cow, a very fluffy and adorable cow that one of the FFA students used to show at the fair. Station five was about a baby calf that was just around 10 weeks old. The baby calf was scared to go near people but I was lucky enough to get a closer look and was also able to pet it. There was a pig and a goat there as well. All of the animals they had were very friendly and adorable to see. After the O’Connell Ranch, we visited their other barn where they keep most of their cattle. At the barn is where they gave shots to the cattle and branded them. Sadly, after that, we had to leave small and welcoming Colusa and drive back to Sacramento. Before we headed back to school, we made a quick stop at Raley’s to see how the fruit from ranches, like the O’Connell’s, get to market.
Unfortunately, the field trip had to come to an end when we arrived back at RCHS. The field trip had to be the best field trip I have taken in a really long time. The field trip was a perfect experience for students that are in the Farm to Fork and Culinary Program. The field trip was the perfect amount of education and fun!