Fantastic Farming

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Imagine growing up on a dairy farm, waking up every day to take care of your cows and taking on the responsibility of taking care of the animals. Science teacher Carmen Kreager had the responsibility of waking up to feed the animals and making sure that the barn was clean. This lifestyle is rewarding with the effort that you put in. That is exactly what Ms. Kreager did in 2012. She grew up on her family’s dairy farm in the south side of Marathon City, Indiana and then went to school at the University of Michigan where she worked at a sheep barn. 

You might know Ms. Kreager in the classroom as a science teacher, but she has another side to her story. Ms. Kreager grew up on Kreager Dairy Farm in Indiana showing both beef and dairy cattle. 

Before moving to Connecticut, Ms. Kreager worked in the Michigan State sheep barn. Ms. Kreager managed the sheep, did data entry for the swine research facility, and helped around the horse barn. When working at the farm her favorite part of the day was bedding the animals in the morning. “You don’t have to think a lot about it, but it’s fun. And then, when you bed lambs, they’re super happy and jumping around,” she said. Ms. Kreager reflected on her favorite barn which was a sheep barn that held Mongo, the fastest growing Suffolk ram. Ms. Kreager explained that Mongo’s offspring were known for being the fastest to grow from birth to market weight.

Ms. Kreager started her adventure at the Michigan Sheep barn in 2012 and ended it in 2015 when she had gone to college. She said that growing up on her parents dairy farm sparked her interest and decision to work in the sheep barn. Ms. Kreager had wanted to work in the Michigan dairy barn but the long shifts did not work with her school schedule. Her friends that she worked with at the dorm desk also worked in the sheep barn, and they convinced her to work there as it was less exhausting on her school schedule. 

Ms. Kreager’s least favorite part of working at the barn was trimming the donkey hooves. Ms. Kreager said that on her first day working in the barn in Michigan she didn’t have class until three, and she was doing chores in the barn when Al asked her if she could stay to help get “him” trimmed. Ms. Kreager did not know who “he” was, and it ended up being the donkey. “We had to get his hooves trimmed, so I had to hold him in his halter and he kept trying to bite me, and he hated me ever since,” she said, “That had happened on my first day so he would chase me anytime I would get into his area.” Ms. Kreager enjoyed most of her time in the barns, but just like everyone she had disliked a few parts of her day. 

She explained that she had become a science teacher when her husband took a job in New Haven. Ms. Kreager explained that she decided on teaching because she saw science everywhere in the barn and wanted to work with genomic testing, which related to a science degree aswell as the barn. She worked with the ruminants at the sheep barn and testing labs that involved different types of sorghum and digestion because the sheep had four stomachs, which is different from humans. Ms. Kreager was experimenting to learn more. 

Ms. Kreager’s dad pushed her when she was showing animals. She had shown both beef and dairy cattle for her farm and helped her friends in 4-H show their animals like hogs, goats, and a horse. Ms. Kreager said that her dad pushing her was irritating growing up but he taught her that she doesn’t have to be stagnant in life and she can always keep pushing herself to do better.