There’s a certain momentum every summer that begs the question-- why would you close for August?? People would still keep coming. They would also come in fall, maybe to pick pumpkins or do a corn maze. Why not stay open and keep doing business?
In the beginning, it was easy. There were a certain number of schools and daycares, and we could fit them into May, June and July.
Then Family Days grew into our main thing in July, and these last two years, Family Days were our only thing. If we want our business to thrive, shouldn’t we consider hosting as many visitors as will come?
Our life is not exactly what you see when you visit. Yes, these are our animals and this is where we care for them. But our life is not intended to be as farm tour guides. We are farmers. That means planting and harvesting, canning and freezing, butchering and smoking, making hay and bringing it home,
collecting firewood, caring for animals, making syrup and being boss of our own time.
When visitors are here daily, we spend several hours daily arranging animals into the right position for close interactions. There must be food and water there for them, and we must clean up after them.
When visitors are not here daily, most of these animals stay in pasture, where they find their own food and water in summertime, and no one has to clean up after them.
We host visitors because it allows us to farm full-time. We do care about education, but if all we wanted was to educate, there are 100 easier ways to do that.
A visitor last year accused one of my kids through clenched teeth: “So you’re just a MONEY MAKING business!” as if that made us evil.
We all laughed about that later, because, yes, that is why we are open. It is to make money, seasonally, so we can farm a little more carefree the rest of the year. My parents invented the original model back in 1989 and handed it to us in 2007.
Raising our kids on a farm is a dream come true. But starting a farm these days usually requires more than just the hard work of farming. Thus, the James Rebanks quote above:
“We have a chance to keep our farm and our way of life going only because of the other things we do.”