HANSON — Alpacas, and chickens and goats, oh, my! Not to mention horses and rabbits and ducks — the young members of the new Chicks and Chaps 4-H Club love them all.
The new club draws its 20 members from Whitman, Hanson, Rockland and Halifax at the moment.
Special needs preschool teacher Sarah Wall of Whitman, is the leader of the group, started in August and held a Family Farm Day Oct. 29 at Channell Homestead, South Street in Hanson, with club members in costume for the Halloween-themed event.
“I was in 4-H from the time I was in fourth-grade all the way until I graduated high school,” said Wall, who was dressed as a Minion for the Family Farm Day. “I was huge into 4-H, It was something I did with my dad for years.”
Wall’s daughter, Lillian, also enjoys 4-H.
“It’s a good experience and a good time,” she said of her work with horses and goats in the club. “I like to learn about the goats a lot.”
So far, Lillian found a talk and demonstration on horse’s hoof care by a professional farrier to be the most interesting.
Ashlyn Savastano of Halifax became involved through the Channell Homestead, where she works in the barn, and is also particularly keen on horses and goats.
“Just being with the animals and being on the farm,” led her to get involved.
She started in a rabbit club named the Briar Patch Bunnies. While working at the Channell Homestead farm with students in the WHRHS Transition Vocation Program last year, Wall began discussing the possibility of a 4-H Club with farm owner Christianie Channell, but Wall said she didn’t have the information on how to go about it.
“We kind of teamed up and a lot of people had said to me there’s a really big need for this in the community,” Wall explained. “Because we have this beautiful venue and access to all these animals, and a meeting spot, this was perfect.”
A bake sale the members ran brought in $121 for club programs and projects.
Horse project members are more “horse enthusiasts and riders,” none of them actually owns a horse at the moment, but their goal is to show all the animals they work with at the Marshfield Fair next year.
A couple of those horse enthusiasts were handling the pony rides inside the barn as eager visiting children in costume led their parents all around the farm to look at, feed and pet the animals.
“The animals are always at the forefront of 4-H, but I think what a lot of people don’t realize about 4-H is there’s so much more about community service and leadership,” Wall said. “They also learn about the government.”
Wall attended a 4-H youth leadership program in Washington, DC when she was in high school as well as the National 4-H Congress in Memphis, Tenn., another year.
“When I was in high school, [it seemed] there was a stigma attached to 4-H,” she said. “People think it’s only agriculture. Even though that is such an important part of it, I always say to these guys that I can’t stress enough – service is going to be above everything else for us.”
The farm does other summer programs, including horseback riding lessons as well as running a farm stand that sells goat’s milk products. She had a table with her soaps and other goat’s milk products at the Farm Day.
Channell has given members talks on goat anatomy as well as the care of goats and horses and one of the club’s junior leader has been giving member riding lessons, as well.
They generally hold meetings of the 4-H Club twice a month in the Channell Farm bar, but winter meetings are planned for once a month at the library.
While less hands-on winter meetings will still concentrate on the animals, doing lessons on crop harvests and animal husbandry.
The club, like the others in the area are operated through Plymouth County Extension and UMass. For more information on the Chicks & Chaps 4-H Club check out their Facebook page at facebook.com/ChicksandChaps4H.