Spring is a great time to be out on the farm. People love to come visit and see the lambs, the calves, the chicks, oh my! And we love to have people come out.
Sometimes people’s perceptions of farming are…surprising. Sometimes I forget how things look from the outside. (How I used to see things too!) And I forget that, while I’ve seen farms bigger and smaller and cleaner and messier and everything in between, sometimes our visitors have only seen us. And this is what makes it so important that we constantly allow people to come here, to bring those fresh, curious eyes, to question our methods, to stack us up against their books, their movies, their CNN Special Reports, and their grocery store labels…to challenge us to uphold the truth of what we’re doing.
So these are just some thoughts I wanted to share with you in case you’d like to visit your local farmer (with some lovely but completely unrelated pictures of our horse to keep you from getting bored!) ’cause we’ve seen and heard some strange, strange things since we started this journey…
1. You should go to the farm. You really, really should. You’re eating it. You’re feeding it to your kids. (Do you know how many children die from food-borne illnesses a year?) You should absolutely be able to see where it comes from, what it looks like, what it smells like, and know who’s doing what to it.
2. Farms are private property. Folks, this is not just a place of business, this is our home. And just because I said you should go visit doesn’t mean you should roll up in the driveway and demand a tour any old time ya want to. Call ahead. Or if you just stop by (because we really don’t mind that and have meet some wonderful people that way!), be polite and don’t be surprised if right this second is a bad time. (It usually isn’t, but it could be.) And DON’T–I mean DON’T–get out and starting walking around wherever because you’re just curious and want to see the baby animals.
I can’t even believe I have to say that, but people tend to just pull into our driveway and somehow on their way to the door (I hope) just wander straight over to the nearest fence to see the animals. I’m sitting there scrapbooking while my kids are taking a nap and suddenly there’s a stranger’s head bobbing past my bedroom window…This is the country, people. That’s a good way to get yourself attacked by a dog. Or worse. Not to mention it’s just rude. Look around, sure. If you see us, feel free to walk over. But don’t just start wandering around like you’re in a shopping mall or something–our garden hose is not for sale just because it’s laying next to the driveway.
3. Don’t make smart remarks about the animals. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears (and money) go into these animals. Sure, some of them are unique and interesting looking. But if you don’t mean it as a complement (and saying “wow, that one’s eyes look really weird” is not a compliment) just keep it to yourself until you’re back in the car. (Especially if you happen to be a guy with several piercings, tattoos, hair colors, and are wearing platform shoes to visit a farm or country fair.) I’d hate to feel forced to “compliment” you back. We’re not raising 1,000s of animals here–even if it looks like a lot to you. We really do know each one and how they got that gimpy leg or funny twisted horn (and it usually involved a lot of blood, sweat, and tears from us AND them). And we love ‘um just the way they are.
And the most important…
4. Don’t chase the animals. Sometimes they chase back.