Weston School District, Cazenovia, WI
Sue Louis, Student/Family and Community Relations Coordinator
Located in a beautiful rural setting in Sauk and Richland counties, the Weston School District provides extensive learning opportunities for over 300 students in grades PreK-12, through a challenging academic environment with a wide array of athletic, artistic, technical, vocational, exploratory, and college level course offerings. Our “hands-on” curriculum keeps students excited about learning.
We welcome you to come and explore our unique rural setting and our very own Dairy Sheep Project located on the 68 acres surrounding the school. The idea for having a Dairy Sheep Project initiated back in 2013 when some students in an Animal Science class expressed a desire to expand the school farm by raising and milking a flock of 10–12 dairy sheep. Up until then the ‘farm’ consisted of one small, Jersey bull calf and a flock of chickens.
Students began planning by researching dairy sheep, determining housing and feeding needs, and drawing up plans for a barn, milking parlor, and milk house. Soil Science students researched forages and the steps needed to reclaim a fallow field below the school garden for hay production for winter feeding and an area behind the school for grazing.
The educational opportunities associated with having a herd of dairy sheep on school grounds are countless for prekindergarten through high school students. Work ethic, time management, record keeping, animal nutrition and ration balancing, animal husbandry, growth and development, forage production, soil nutrient management, and pasture management are just a few ways that dairy sheep are being used for hands-on learning experiences.
After a lot of fund raising, grant writing, and hard work, a sheep barn was erected behind the high school. Students constructed a 660’ fence around a brushy area near the barn which is where the sheep graze. This area will be developed into prime pasture as the project moves forward. Students have sheared the sheep, helped build the barn, insulated the milk house and parlor, installed wall board and electrical fixtures, bottle fed lambs, given vaccinations and antibiotics, and continue to feed the sheep daily.
After lambing this spring there were 25 sheep on school grounds. A ram was sold to a local family to help improve their dairy genetics. Six were sold as feeders, and 7 ewes were sold to a family in Wyoming that is starting a dairy sheep operation. Currently there are 11 sheep on school grounds. They rotationally graze on 2 pastures that students have created.
The ultimate goal is to raise enough money to set up a processing room and make sheep milk gelato to be sold at sporting events. Because no school district money is being used for this project, students continue to plan fundraisers and search for grant money. Check out their Facebook Fan Page entitled “Emily and Miss Baa” which keeps students and community members informed about the progress of this project, and has a link for donations.
Currently students milk the sheep and make sheep milk soap which is sold in the area communities. We welcome you to come and learn about the art of making Sheep Soap at our two scheduled workshops! Other events scheduled for the day include a pancake breakfast, a fun 5k Run/1 Mile Walk, and a Fall Harvest Fest complete with games and activities! We will have something for everyone to enjoy!