Hundreds of schoolchildren Monday climbed into the cab of a gleaming John Deere tractor outfitted with three computers and front tires as big as the average fourth-grader.
"It costs about $100,000," said Kevin Lierz of Deems Farm Equipment Inc., 1110 E. 23rd St., of the tractor. "That's the same as 200,000 candy bars ... or four or five nice cars."
A lesson in agricultural economics was delivered at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds to fourth-graders from Deerfield, Broken Arrow, East Heights, Sunflower, Quail Run and Langston Hughes schools.
Today, students from seven other Lawrence elementary schools and from Baldwin and Vinland will participate in the "Slice of Agriculture" program.
"The main goal is to take something they have in their life and apply it to agriculture," said Brenna Wulfkuhle, who helped usher students from station to station.
Here's another farm economy shocker: A Kansas farmer sells a bushel of wheat for $3.75. That bushel is transformed into 70 loaves of bread. Each loaf costs $1.29 at the grocery store.
"How much of that $1.29 does the farmer get? Less than 5 cents," Wulfkuhle said.
In addition to the tractor and feed grain stations, students toured six other sites for presentations linked to school curriculum in nutrition, safety, science and history.
A beef cattle exhibit was hosted by Melissa and Michelle Colgan, who attend Lawrence schools and live near Clinton Lake. The sisters shared a stage with their Simmental beef cow and calf.
"A baby weights 65 to 100 pounds," Melissa said. "That's bigger than a first-grader."
How many pounds of hay does an adult cow eat daily? About 27 pounds, Michelle said.
And, how much water does it typically take to wash that much hay down? Twenty-three gallons, Melissa said.
Valli Keen and Katy Taul, both of Baldwin, spoke with students about their dairy animals, a Holstein cow and a Brown Swiss heifer.
"The average cow produces 200,000 glasses of milk in a lifetime," Valli said.
Katy tossed a group of students from Quail Run School a trick question: Do you think the brown one gives white or chocolate milk? Nobody mistakenly thought there was such a thing as dark milk from a cow.
"Very good," she said.
Marsha Pohl of the Douglas County Conservation District explained to students that maintaining a clean pond, creek or river water supply was a challenge for cattle producers.
"Livestock do not have manners," she said. "They go to the bathroom in the water."
Pohl told the children that sewage eventually reaches large bodies of water, such as the Wakarusa and Kansas rivers.
At the last stop, students were led into the "House of Germs." There, extension agent Susan Krumm used a black light and a special powder to illustrate that bacteria lurked on computers, phones, books, pencils, sinks and hands.
"Your hands are the biggest culprit," she said. "You must scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds."