Hancock Building

We were surrounded by skyscrapers. But yet we were in a red barn, climbing up into a John Deere tractor and learning about pigs. Just what were we doing? We were in the farm area at Lincoln Park Zoo for Pork-a-pa-zoo-la!

We live (theoretically) about 20 minutes away from Chicago, yet we rarely go downtown. It requires some planning and strategy to go downtown, which mostly about transportation, traffic, and the cost of parking. We didn’t plan wisely this time around, so we spent $36 on just four hours of parking in the zoo lot. Fortunately for us, Lincoln Park Zoo is still a free zoo, and so we hope some of our parking fee goes toward the zoo itself!

When we first walked into the zoo, we were able to sample some pork burgers…DaBurgers! I’ve used ground pork in my meatloaf before, but I never thought of using it to make burgers! They were delicious. Then we were off to the “farm,” where Lily and Emmy played with soybeans, learned about pigs, and climbed up into a tractor. (Ed had just as much fun climbing up into the John Deere as the girls did…in fact, I think he liked it more than they did!)

John Deere
In a green tractor with piggy ears!

playing in soybeans
Emmy and Lily playing with soybeans.

Since I’m an Illinois Field Mom, I introduced myself to the volunteers running the activities. A couple of people approached me first because they recognized me from the Illinois Farm Families website. That made me feel a little bit like a celebrity! I was able to talk to one of the farmers who spoke at the Ward Farm about pigs. It was a farm visit that I missed, so it was nice to be able to ask him some questions about raising hogs. The girls also made pig ear hats, which we had a lot of fun wearing. Emmy is pretending to be one of her favorite pigs in the picture below…can you guess which one? (Click HERE to find out!)

Emmy as Mercy Watson
Guess who? Pay attention to what Emmy is eating!

The farm exhibit at Lincoln Park Zoo is a permanent exhibit; but some of the activities were there just for the day. After we completed all our farm tasks, we went to visit other animals at the zoo. One of the animals kept eluding us; we went to his cage three times and just kept missing him. Lily insisted on going back one more time before we left to try again…and finally we saw the tiger!


A Day at the Farm

It was a clear, beautiful May day at the Jeschke farm in Mazon, Illinois. While I could have spent hours rambling along the country roads and fields, I was there for a reason; to learn about farming. I was among a group of urban and suburban moms, farmers and agricultural experts who got together to discuss farming and farming methods.

The learning process started as soon as we boarded the bus early in the morning. A group of women from the farm answered questions as we drove from city to suburb to country. (For more details about what I learned, keep your eyes open for my blog post at Watch Us Grow.) As soon as we got off the bus, we were able to see a planter ready to go into the field. I was able to climb up into the tractor and talk with the Jeschke’s nephew about the GPS system that guides the planter, and the technology he uses to map the field. High yield areas are planted with more seed, and low yield areas are planted with fewer seeds to give the corn plants and root systems plenty of room to grow and be productive. All the technology he uses is amazing!

If you look through the window, you can see how high up we are!

As soon as I climbed down, he was off to go planting. The fields were planted later than usual this year because of flooding conditions in April. You may remember me writing about how those floods affected me. By the end of April in 2012, all the corn and soybeans had already been planted. This year, it was the middle of May and there were still some fields that needed to be planted. Here’s a quick video of the corn planter folding up and going up the road, headed for the fields. (This video is 4 times the actual speed.)

Watch on YouTube.

After the planter left, we walked down the road to see the Field Moms’ corn and soybean acres. We’re going to watch the crops grow online throughout the summer and into harvest.

Throughout the day we talked about how farmers grow crops, feed livestock, and provide food for a growing population. This Memorial Day weekend, as you grill delicious meats and enjoy potato salad and corn on the cob, remember that your meal is so delicious because a farmer helped put it on your plate!

Field Mom Corn Acre
Field Moms’ Corn Acre


Field Moms

Tell me; what are you eating this weekend?