Desert Marigold School Animal Care seeks to develop an educational biodynamic farm that supports organic living, environmental sustainability, and good stewardship of the Earth.
The Desert Marigold School includes the care and use of farm animals in the Waldorf curriculum as part of its campaign for environmental sustainability by making the barnyard an integral part of biodynamic farming and reinforcing the intrinsic value of animals on quality of life.
Introduction to Why We Have the Animals
Biodynamic farming at Desert Marigold School is an integral part of Waldorf teaching methods. In early childhood academic development, animals provide the basis for fantastic fairytale realms, and as our children grow, their connections with the animals and plants of the natural world serve to build a greater understanding of their own selves. Our barnyard at Desert Marigold School is central to the school’s emphasis on environmental sustainability. In addition to their aesthetic value, the farm animals that live at the school provide composting fodder that amends the soil in the community garden, and their presence reinforces in our children the intrinsic value of animals as part of our existence. Animals provide food; animals bring wonder of adaptation and survival; and animals provide the avenue by which people learn about trust, assertiveness, and unconditional love. Caring for animals teaches children empathy, responsibility, and a sense of personal reward for doing good work.
Though our children are responsible for in the care of the Desert Marigold School farm animals, ultimately, it is the responsibility of the Animal Care Committee to oversee the health and well-being of the animals and to supervise our children as they develop their knowledge and skills about caring for farm animals. Community members who wish to be part of the Animal Care Committee are asked to make their contact information and availability known to the Animal Care Coordinator. We collectively ensure that our barnyard companions are healthy, happy, and receive proper care. It is the Committee’s responsibility to feed and bed down the animals everyday, including weekends, holidays, and school breaks, and maintain the barnyard for the safety and health of our animals. Caring for animals is fun and peaceful work. Please contact the Animal Care Coordinator for information about how you can help care for our barnyard friends.
Animal Care Programs
After School Muck Out
Students in grades K-6th grade have early release on (half day) one designated day of the week. On the first half day of each month, students in these grades are asked to contribute time to working in the barnyard mucking out stalls, scrubbing water buckets, cleaning up the sty, raking up the barnyard, and hauling stall manure and barnyard refuse to the appropriate designated areas at the garden. Typically, all of these chores can be completed in about 1.5 hours. This program gives children the opportunity to work together to care for our animals. Parents are asked to participate as supervisors such that the students take ownership of the chores in the barnyard. This is a solid program that reinforces responsibility and reward for good work.
Each year in early spring, the fourth grade raises hatchling peeps to help grow our flock of chickens. Chicks are purchased using funds allotted to Animal Care and they are raised for approximately 4-5 weeks in two brood boxes, which were built by the third grade in 2010 and are currently stored in the woodshop. At the end of the brooding period, chicks are moved into a brood pen in the main chicken coop and are housed therein for 1.5-2 weeks before being released in the main coop. The brood pen door is open enough to let the chicks come and go but prevents the larger mature hens from entering. This gives the chicks protection from hen pecking until they are large enough to fend for themselves.
Egg Sales at the Community Farmer’s Market
The eggs collected from our hen house are stored and sold at the DMS Community Farmer’s Market, which is held each week on the designated half day.
Third Grade Building Projects
In the event that the barnyard or chicken coop or pond area require any small repairs or construction projects, these projects should be assessed for third grade involvement as part of their building activity for the school year. In 2010, the third graders hung chicken wire along the entire base of the main chicken coop to cover openings and reinforce security of the coop, and they built both of the brood boxes that are currently used to raise chicks by the fourth graders.
Volunteering reinforces in your children the lessons of team work, sharing, commitment, and the love of meaningful experiences. Our animals are cared for exclusively by volunteers. Anyone of any size or age can help with the care of our animals – there is a job for everyone! If you or your family would like to become more involved with Animal Care, please contact the Animal Care Coordinators, Amy Weibel or Mystique Haslup.
Animal Care Handbook
You can learn more about our animals and their care in the Animal Care Handbook.