Last Saturday, I enjoyed a perfect fall day at the UMC South Farm Field Day. This is the seventh year for this event and each year more and more families enjoy spending the day on a big farm. Last year there were over 8,000 visitors. I don’t know the tally for this year’s event, but all the parking lots were packed.
Visitors took hay rides on trailers pulled by big tractors or a cart pulled by the MU Mule Team, went through an exotic animal petting zoo, saw a parade of foals, tasted Missouri wine, watched a trained hawk or sheep herding demo, participated in cockroach races, painted pumpkins, learned how the weather balloon is used to create weather reports and saw displays on home energy conservation tips, soil testing, forestry and agriculture engineering. There was great food to eat too.
Not all of these activities are a regular part of everyday farm life, but it is so important to make agriculture very visible to the public. For some kids that enjoyed the day, this will be one of the few chances they have to see farm animals. I am a big believer in sharing the farm-to-plate story and reminding kids, and parents too, that food doesn’t come from the grocery store. It comes from a farm, big or small. There is a lot of science and craft behind a perfect beef steak or delicious watermelon. Farmers need to share their stories. The picture with this post is a good friend of mine, Danny Shilling, from southwest Missouri. Danny shares his sheep, cattle and herd dog training stories with anyone he can–at demonstrations like the ones he gave at the South Farm Field Day, to shows he puts on at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, to herding trials he judges in Brazil. Watch for more information on Danny on our web site because he’ll be supplying some of the great tasting lamb meat we’re gearing up to sell online in November!