High View Farms educates students about farming
BUDD LAKE — Every day is a pretty beautiful one for Rosanne Oblen at Mount Olive’s High View Farms.
“Jersey City,” she says, when asked what’s happening this day on her 27-acre property. “A Jersey City preschool is coming — 75 children — and they’re going to ride the horse, see and feed farm animals with Delia (Caruso, her daughter-in-law), I’m doing the horse ride with ‘Stash’ (real name Stanley, a local 4-H member), and then Shane (her grandson) is taking them down to do the corn maze.”
Autumn is the busiest time of year for High View Farms. Not open to the public, but by appointment only, school groups schedule field trips, and this particular one would be busy.
The farm’s huge, on-site barn, which was built along with Oblen’s transition to a new life back in 1984, has picnic tables side by side, Halloween decorations adorning them and the walls.
Oblen is in her 19th year running High View Farms as a place to visit and, yes, it’s about education, but it’s learning in a fun way.
“December, January, February, March,” she says when asked when the farm is quiet — that is, except for the morning “heehaw” 5:30 a.m. wakeup call of one of two donkeys. “I start back up in April. I used to start back up in March, but March turned out to be more winter then December. We’re winding down, but there’s lots of birthday parties, scouts are coming, football teams celebrate their last (game of the year) party here (in the barn).”
Oblen’s main challenge is with predators.
“I have many chickens that are 4-H projects for children, and I get eggs from them and sell on the farm. So, I have foxes, raccoons, bears and even coyotes to deal with. I try to check my fencing and have as many night lights on as I can, but that doesn’t always work because they are relentless.”
She points out where she has attempted to enforce her high cages and pens with tight twine, sometimes to no avail.
“I also have many rabbits on the farm for my 4-Hers and for my party goers to see and touch, and they also have predators after them,” she said. “The hardest thing to do is break the news to a child that their chicken or rabbit is gone. Trust me it is an ongoing battle. We usually have a hawk,” she says, “just sitting here waiting.”
As Stash and Shane prepare to feed hay to the goats, horse, lambs and pigs, eventually tossing it over the gates to their delight, the screeching and calling out of the pen residents ceasing, Oblen and Caruso fetch a bucket to gather morning eggs laid by chickens.” I am always looking for new things to teach children,” she says as Caruso places red eggs into a red basket, “like how to shell corn, make soap, make butter and construct bird houses.
“We also have beehives now through a new 4-H club, so now I will be able to show children how to extract honey from hives and sell it for our club. That is very protected by electric fencing.
“They don’t even care what the weather is like,” says Oblen with a laugh about the soon-to-arrive preschoolers. This, a visit to the gorgeous farm with valley stretching below, is an escape for them. There is a beauty all year round, especially in the fall. “
Yeah, says Oblen, motioning to distant trees “wearing” leaves of gold, red and yellow, “look at the colors.”
She starts to walk, then stops and says, “We come out here (in late afternoon) and watch the sunset. It’s one of the most beautiful things. During my 4-H meetings, that’s what they all do. I’m doing a meeting and they’re all gone. I’ll ask, ‘Where are you guys?’ and they’re out here watching the sunset. It’s really spectacular up here.”
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P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925