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Learning the barnyard facts

July 16, 2002

Young Chang

Did you know a heifer is a young female cow that has not had a

calf?

That a dairy cow is a female that has had a calf?

That buttermilk contains 11.7 grams of carbohydrates, 8.2 grams of

fat and 5.1 grams of saturated fat?

That cows are pregnant for the same number of months as humans?

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Who knew?

Well, the experts at Millennium Barn at the Orange County Fair do,

but they've put up a big, unfolding display of Cow Facts at the

entrance to Millennium Barn to teach everyone else.

''It's not so much a working barn as someone would typically think

of as a barn,'' said Joan Hamill, director of exhibits, referring to

how the barn doesn't house tons of animals. ''It's more

educational.''

The open barn that is part of Centennial Farm hasn't changed much

since last year. When it comes to programming centered around the

farm and the livestock area, fair officials say they try to keep the

features traditional.

A few horses do dwell here, as do cows when they're brought in for

milking demonstrations, but most abundant in the area are displays

having to do with everything from cows to water.

The unfolding wall of cow facts is accompanied by a similar chart

chronicling the history of agricultural water development, California

water development and an explanation of how much water is used for

environmental and other purposes.

Kids, and adults for that matter, can draw pictures of cows in one

section and a water-related animal in another. One visitor from

Monday morning drew a cow with udders, a tail and a thought bubble

communicating ''Moo.''

Experts at Millennium Barn also lead cow-milking demonstrations

with a milking machine four times a day.

''They're a huge draw,'' Hamill said. ''I think it has to do with

this [being] an urban area environment now. Most people don't have a

dairy farm nearby, and they're here at the fair and they want to see

something related to agriculture.''

But dominating the other side of the barn is Genia and Bill

Gardner's Sheepy Hollow exhibit.

Everything they sell and show, from the wooden dolls to the

clothes, is handmade and having to do with wool or something else

farm-related.

''See that dirty wool right there?'' asked Bill Gardner, pointing

to a heap of course looking cotton. ''That goes through that machine

right there. It is absolutely from sheep to shawl.''

The couple, based in Arizona, have been a part of Millennium Barn

for six years. They say their purpose is less to sell than to teach.

''What we come to do is show people how clothing is made and

things like that,'' Genia Gardner said.

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