Fourth-graders spend time with couple to learn more about cattle, crops

FF Editor
Farm Forum

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By Katherine Grandstrand

Clint and Kelly Brandlee were adopted.

Not as children, but by children.

The Pierpont-area farmers were adopted by four schools throughout South Dakota — Simmons Elementary and May Overby Elementary in Aberdeen, and two in Rapid City.

Each month since October, the newlyweds — they tied the knot on New Year’s Eve — have sent a video to the schools detailing a different part of their 300-head cattle operation and farm.

“We sold cattle here in Aberdeen, so that’s going to be our next one,” Kelly said during a stop at Simmons on Jan. 19.

With calving season expected to start March 1, the kids will also get some calving videos filmed at 2 a.m., Clint told the kids during the presentation.

Jan. 19 was the first time the Brandlees visited classrooms in person. They first stopped at May Overby, then Simmons.

All of the Simmons fourth-graders piled into one room, which was noisy with excitement until teachers calmed things down.

Kelly used to work for Ag United for South Dakota, the organization responsible for matching up classrooms and farmers, so she was the driving force getting Brandlee Farms involved, Clint said.

“This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this,” he said.

The Brandlees used a giant paper hamburger to illustrate exactly how their jobs help feed the nation.

They grow the wheat that makes the buns, the beef that makes the burger, and Kelly works at Riverview Dairy near Veblen, which provides the milk to make cheese.

The kids had a lot of questions about how the animals are cared for, where meat comes from, and a few lurid, fourth-grade curiosity questions about birth defects.

“It was like, ‘How can I safely answer this?’” Clint said after the presentation.

One of the fourth-graders wanted to know who was watching the Brandlees’ cattle while they were in Aberdeen.

“Nobody,” Clint responded. “They’re out meandering. They’re in a fenced-in field eating cornstalks.”

Clint farms with his dad, and the Brandlees’ neighbor also works for them, Kelly added.

The Brandlees took plastic bags full of the crops they grow and the items their cattle eat, including distillers grain and alfalfa. The kids got to smell and feel all of the different components.

When some students realized it took killing a cow to make a hamburger, some were a little shocked, but that’s exactly why the Brandlees were adopted in the first place.

“There’s just a gap,” Clint said. “Nobody knows what goes on at a farm anymore.”

Follow @kgrandstrandAAN on Twitter.

Kelly Brandlee, right, talks about the beef cattle raised on the Brandlee Farms as she and her husband Clint visited with fourth-graders at Simmons Elementary School. Farm Forum photo by John Davis
Jaycee Malsom, a fourth-grader at Simmons Elementary School, touches a sample of cattle feed in a bag as she and her classmates learned more about farming Friday during a visit from Clint and Kelly Brandlee. American News photo by John Davis
Clint Brandlee talks about a sample of distillers grain he feeds to cattle on his family farm during a presentation to fourth-graders at Simmons Elementary School Friday. Clint and his wife Kelly have been adopted by the students and share video messages about farming every month. American News photo by John Davis