The boy took one peek at the turkey's multicolored snood, wattle and caruncle.

"Ooh!" he shouted. "Look at this face!"

The turkey stared back, taking in the boy's eyes, nose and mouth. The bird didn't seem all that impressed with what he saw, either.

Bring the Farm to You visited the Karl Road branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library June 14, offering young and old city folks the chance to see creatures farther down the food chain in their natural state.

Adults and children took advantage of the opportunity to pet the bristly back of a cheerful little black pig, run fingers through the curly wool of a sheep munching on the lawn of the library or feel the down-soft ears of a bunny wrinkling a pink nose.

Bring the Farm to You, now in its seventh year of operation, is the brainchild of Centerburg farmer Christa Hein, one-time education director at the Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware.

Hein said her purpose in launching the business was to educate people in cities about things they might not otherwise consider, such as the origins of pork or what a chicken wing looks like when it's still on the chicken.

"I think the need is because everybody eats," Hein said. "It's not very intuitive when you go to Kroger where that food comes from."

Bring the Farm to You has gone to locations where the young people never leave their neighborhood, let alone get out in the country to see goats, pigs, chickens, sheep and other animals, Hein said.

"It's kind of difficult for people to understand that's a reality, that some people never leave their neighborhood," she said. "Some kids and some adults don't even know what the animals are."

Bring the Farm to You was at the library as part of the Summer Reading Series, said Mickie Stiers, youth services manager at the branch.

"Everything we do ties back to reading, and animals are something that kids are always excited to interact with," Stiers said. "It's a fun way to have a little spark of adventure in their day.

"We talk a lot about teaching children phonics, and one of the best ways to teach phonics -- especially with little children -- is what do animals say. There's a reason that children are drawn to animal sounds and making nonsense rhymes, because it helps us play with language and learn our language."

When a little girl at the event learned how to make a turkey gobble sound, she shrieked. The turkey responded to each piercing sound.

"Do not poke the animals," Latalia Tate told a group she was supervising from the Forest Park Christian School. "Do not shake the cages."

Tate said her young charges were part of a summer camp program at the school.

"I just hope they get the excitement of something new," she said. "Some of them don't know what they're eating half the time."

"It's something different and exciting," said Samantha Caudill, who lives not far from the library and walked over with her 7-year-old daughter, Issabella.

Hein said she believes the animals selected for Bring the Farm to You enjoy the interaction with people.

"I think the turkey definitely does," she said. "He seems to like it that people are paying attention to him. We have some very friendly sheep, too, who hold their heads up to be petted. The birds are a little skittish. We try to pick the animals that enjoy that environment."

Hein decidedly likes what she does.

"I absolutely love it," she said. "It just gives you energy. Everybody is so excited and so grateful."

"We have such a large immigrant population in the Northland area," Stiers said." It's always fun to hear what a cow says in Africa. It's often different from what we say. It's a good way to get to know one another."

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1