North Country meets New York City

WILLSBORO — Deandre Richardson paused, squinted at the horse, looked at the brush before turning his attention to the stable attendant:

“Is there supposed to be this much hair? This is a lot of hair.”

Richardson, 16, had just had his first experience with a horse and he thought it was neat.

“I like this farm a lot, especially because I get to experience animals hands on.”

He found himself in the stable at the Ben Wever Farm on Friday, April 25 with his classmates from the Life Sciences Secondary School in Manhattan, an environment in which some North Country domestic creatures are as exotic as, say, the hiss of subway doors to kids from Willsboro.

The diversified livestock farm is what’s billed as a conception-to-consumer facility by Linda Gillilland, the farm’s co-owner and Friday’s erstwhile tour guide.

“It’s the whole great circle of life.”


The trip comes as part of a sweep through the region facilitated by a group called College for Every Student (CFES), the Essex-based non-profit that seeks to foster greater opportunities for students who run the risk of falling between the cracks.

During the two-hour tour, Gillilland gave the kids a crash course in five general areas of husbandry — horses, ducks and chickens, sheep, dogs and cows — that kept the crew captivated and engaged.

“Kids generally know when they’re expected to ask questions,” said program director Michelle Bialeck. “But these kids are genuinely excited and interested.”

Among their inquiries:

“Why are eggs all different colors and sizes?”

Answer: Eggs vary by breed, said Gillilland.

“Who knows what a farrier is?”

That’s a professional tasked with equine foot care.

“Why are the lambs running around in a circle,” asked another, referring to the maelstrom that erupted when the dozen-strong group meandered over to their pen for a closer look.

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