Agritourism - What I've Learned in the Last TWO Weeks
Updated: Jul 23, 2020
We have visitors exploring our farm and our store - agritourism in action - and let me tell you, I have learned A LOT about what works in the world of farm visiting. Our visitors have been FANTASTIC guests, and have made fast-friends with us and our farm! We are excited to bring you into our world, give you a taste of farm life, to share our treats with you and to get to know you! Opening this farm store has brought me enormous joy, and I am so very grateful for your support. Thanks to all of you who have ventured out and been so patient, curious, kind and thoughtful.
With all of the visits, I have also learned that there may be a few points of culture shock between farmers and folks from the city or elsewhere. The worst thing for agritourism is to have farmers and their tourists irritated with each other because of things each doesn't understand about the other. I thought I'd take the time to share with you some tidbits about how to be a great farm tourist and keep those farmers in your back pocket!
HERE WE GO:
PARKING isn't the same in the country.
A good agritourist knows they are in a new place, so they tend to be pretty cautious watching for parking signs or somebody to direct them. Parking on a farm often means you will park on grass or in a field. On a farm there are a couple of important things to know. 1) Make sure to move off the gravel driveway or road enough to let large tractors pass, 2) Unless asked, never park in front of a large garage or barn door as machinery may need access. If you are uncertain, check in with the farmers or staff. If you park where it makes farm work difficult to do, the farmers will get grumpy looking for you to move your vehicle.
Our PACE of life is SLOWER
I met a few agritourists over the last couple of weeks who seem to move through life on rocket fuel! I've lived the life of a busy city girl, so I understand that weekends are short, a drive over ten minutes seems excruciatingly long and "slow talkers" can really test your patience. Just understand that in the country, community is seriously important. Before business happens, chatting is a must. We are social distancing, but from ten feet still want to connect with you a bit. And, a business on our property does not ixnay the fact that you are our guests first and foremost. (Farmers typically drive slower, too! We don't want to hit our chickens or dog who inevitably hang out on the driveways!)
Summer is our WORK Season SITTING down is not an option
So, even though our pace of life is a bit slower than folks in the city, summer is our work time. Let me explain, because as a prior city-slicker, I did not understand the extent of the idea that work on a farm is never done. Simply put, we get up in the morning, discuss the day, and then don't stop until it is dark outside. Retiring to the house only happens after the chickens get shut in, and right now that is at about 9:15 pm. Leisure time is a cultural idea that tends to NOT be part of farm life.
Living in the city, when the work day is done, it's often time to head out for a walk, or sit on the patio to read a book, or tend to the garden. Out here, there is NO LEISURE time. We don't go camping or kayaking, we don't read much more than a few news clips each day, we don't take walks, we don't go to our local bakeries, cheese shops or touristy places (but we would if we had time!), and we don't watch many movies. There is no such thing as a weekend, no such thing as "Cocktail Hour" and no such thing as "after work." When we want to have a drink, it usually entails sipping a beer or glass of wine while standing next to a job we're trying to complete. If we sit down we run the risk of falling asleep! Now, come winter, there is still a mountain of work to do, but at least the sun goes down earlier, so there is a bit more time for activities that involve sitting. We love what we do, so no pity needed, but do recognize that if you ask me what I am doing next weekend, I'll just look at you with a confused look. I'm doing what I do every weekend - working the farm and the store.
Farm ANIMALS need to REMAIN in HARMONY
Our farm is typically a pretty quiet place. The animals all do their things: the chickens eat from the calves grain pans, the goat lords over his herd of cattle, the dog follows us around to help in any way she can. If we suddenly see the cattle racing across the pasture or chickens scattering in a flurry, we are alerted to something wrong. Tourists to a farm make good friends with the farmers if the animals remain in harmony while the visitors are on site. It's really interesting to see the chicks scatter and the cattle stampede, but when that happens, the farmers go into panic mode worried that something or somebody might get hurt or even killed. A gentle and cautious approach is always best.
ELECTRIC FENCING is not always visible to the CITY EYE
We have an electric fence that runs the road line around our pastures. Tourists who aren't looking carefully might think it's not there and that the "Cows are out." The only time the cattle typically get out is if they get spooked and bust through the fence. We've had lots of people wander down to the pasture to observe the cattle from the wooden fence side and always asked if it was ok to do so. I appreciate that they check in about where it is safe to wander, so I can let them know about the electric fence on the road side. We worry that if someone finds themselves on the roadside, they may meet the fence unexpectedly or spook the cattle who may, in turn, meet the fence unexpectedly. Either would result in a broken fence and potential injury. There are lots of obstacles on a farm that could be unsafe, so always check in with the farmers about where you can best view something of interest.
WALKING the COUNTRY Roads
Farms set up for agritourism typically have space on their farms where they expect visitors to stay. If you would like to take a walk or hike, it's a good idea to check in with the farmer as they can alert you to hazards like fences, tricky neighbor dogs or other other potential pitfalls.
I'm so impressed by the numbers of people prepared for a day in the country. I met guests who had COOLERS, for purchases, SWIMWEAR for a dip in the Rush River, STURDY shoes for a walk, PICNIC gear and practical clothing for visiting with animals, walking in wet fields, and keeping the morning mosquitos at bay. We dress pretty plain out here knowing that our clothing could get muddy, slobbered on or easily torn. You don't need to dress up for us, although a little eye candy and reminder of social civility is sweet!
DOGS are best left at home
I know this is not a dog-loving agritourists favorite thing to hear, but it is true. It seems like the wide open spaces and fresh air will be good for your furry friend, but they have a way of seriously upsetting the harmony of the animals on our farm. When a dog visits, I am alerted immediately and worry that they will chase and kill a chicken, they may attract the attention of someone else's dog and not get along, they may upset the cattle...I worry. My husband worries. Even if they are on a leash, a dog in the country can invite troubles. It really is best to leave them at home where they are safe and sound and full of snuggle love when you get home from your adventures.
MASKS a MUST in the Store - Thank you for traveling with your masks. I provided them for awhile, but am SOLD OUT of those until my next order arrives. Since the store products must stay cool, we have the building air-conditioned.
WHAT'S NEW THIS WEEK?
Bad news, we're OUT of BEEF for a week or so. It's good stuff, I know! SOLD OUT.
PICNIC offerings for hungry blueberry pickers: Roast Beef Sandwiches, Thai Cuke and Peanut Salad, Grandma's Refrigerator Pickles, Vindaloo Curry Rye and Garbanzo Bean Salad, Three Berry Cardamom Custard Mason Jar Desserts, Berry Cheesecake, Lemon Poppyseed and Plum Shortcake Bars...There are other goodies to discover:)
CBD STUFF: I am so EXCITED about our new Peppermint Lotion Bar. This is a great way to apply CBD to sore joints and muscles without having to thumb-nail scoop a chunk out of the balm tub. Lotion Bars use body heat to melt in your hand when rubbed like a bar of soap and make for easy application. They come in a sleek black storage tin, and will be great one day when we might again want to fly as they are not a liquid lotion and can be brought as carry-on.
Agritourism is a great way to get out and enjoy life while the world around us feels so wonky. We love seeing so many visitors, sharing our quirky world with you and enjoying this beautiful summer outside! Thanks again for all your care, consideration and patience with us as we ALL grow together in the world of AGRITOURISM.
Hope to see you this weekend.