Friday, 18 November 2011

Open Door Policy

By: Edward Rusenstrom 

As a dairy farmer and father of three young boys, many things happen throughout a day. Some days it is hard to smile, but when you see a smile on your kids faces, it’s hard not to do the same. One sunny day in September, my family and I were able to put smiles on a lot of faces by doing something farmers don’t do enough of….open their doors!

 September 11th, my family and I had an opportunity to open our farms doors to the general public to give them a chance to see a dairy farm, the animals and the machinery.  On that hot Sunday, we had 372 visitors of all ages (from a few weeks old to 101 years old!)  They came from near and far. Everyone left with positive comments and it was a pleasure to be able to host an event like this. 

Preparing for the day of the open house was an extreme amount of work. We had to clean up the barn, decorate the property, set up signs & information stations, create a safe & fun space for kids to play, clip and wash all the animals, set up an area for all the machinery to be viewed, and organize the volunteers with their jobs. But with the help of great family, friends and neighbors, it all came together.  As the crowd arrived, they had the chance to jump on a tractor and wagon ride, or wait to take the team of horses and wagon into the farm.  They were greeted by the girls at the registration tent, where they signed the guest book and entered a draw for a basket of local goodies.
The crowd sifted through the barn; checking out cows and posters on the walls with fun facts about Milk. There were volunteers throughout the barn to answer any questions the guest had. There were other volunteers around the farm, ready to answer questions, or guide guests around the site.  
The calf hutch area was a site of many giggles throughout the day!! Unsuspecting children would occasionally be licked by the calves, bringing on squeals from the child, laughter from the parents and constant flashes from the cameras.
After their visit with the animals, guests could relax in the shade of the giant maple trees, enjoying a carton of cold refreshing Milk, Chocolate milk or Yop that was handed out, compliments of Agropur!  Many guests also enjoyed a burger and/or hotdog for lunch, and relaxed in the large tent. And all of our guests were excited to try handfuls/mouthfuls of cheddar cheese, donated by Agropur as well.  

Most kids (and adults!) left with smiles on their faces, but some left with frowns because they didn’t want to leave.  For some it was their first time on a dairy farm and I am glad that I was able to make a good lasting impression on them.  It was a great experience for everyone involved, myself especially. I am very grateful that I was chosen as the hosting farm, and very happy with the end result of the entire day!!

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