Friday, January 8, 2016

2015 Warren County Farm Tour

2015 wasn't really my year, and it is hard to write when you feel like all you have is complaints and negativity.  But I wanted to share a fun day the kids and I shared back in August.

Warren County in Southern Iowa is home to many wonderful family run farms.  The Warren County Farm Tour offers the opportunity for locals to visit several farms, meet the farmers, tour the gardens, animals barns, sample goodies and buy locally produced products.  And though we live and run our own small family farming operation, it was so enjoyable and educational to see how other farms run.  Out of the 10 participating farms, the kids and I visited 5.

Goats at Laotian Farm

Our first visit was to Laotian Farm.  We got to see a unique rotational system of ducks, chickens, goats and cattle implemented by the Laotian born farmer.
Chickens at Laotian Farm
Owner of Laotian Farm - "Air"

3 yr old in indoor arena at Ridgetop Horse Ranch
Our second stop was one of the kids' favorites of the day - Ridgetop Horse Ranch.  A family operated horse ranch that opened in 2012, Ridgetop Horse Ranch has a beautiful indoor arena, along with 80 acres of outdoor timber and riding trails.  They offer riding lessons, birthday parties, retreats and trail rides.  So you can guess what all my kids were begging for after this visit!

5 yr old in indoor arena at Ridgetop Horse Ranch
7 yr old in indoor arena at Ridgetop Horse Ranch
10 yr old in indoor arena at Ridgetop Horse Ranch

Some places have very creative names, some have very descriptive names and some are straight to the point.  Stop number three was The Farm.  The Farm boasts a barn full of animals, the most adorable shop and refurbished farm machinery.

Barrel train at The Farm
Tractor at The Farm
Equipment at The Farm
Kids and large hay bale at The Farm

milking a goat at Willis Farm
After taking a ride in the barrel train, petting the animals, checking out all the old tractors, trucks and other equipment, strolling through the shop and putting everything they sell on our wishlist, it was time to leave The Farm and head to our next destination - Willis Farm.  The Willis Farm is a diverse piece of property including hay fields and pasture, 5 gardens, a 107 year old restored barn and commercial zinnia gardens.  During the Warren County Farm Tour, visitors could tour all the gardens and the barn, along with visiting several vendors set up on the front lawn.  Vendors were selling handcrafted items, fresh honey, produce and goat's milk soap.   

milking a goat at Willis Farm

We ended the day at Peace & Plenty Farm, not too far from home.  I could have spent hours here, and the kids had a great time too.  From the front porch of the farm house, a bluegrass band played as people sat on blankets relaxing and eating locally raised meat - bbq'd and catered by a local restaurant.  The rest of the lawn was filled with more local vendors, selling handcrafted goods and locally grown produce.  Down by the front driveway is a pond, stocked with fish for the kids to catch and release.  I purchased the softest t-shirt from the FarmHer booth and have thoroughly enjoyed my free calendar every time I sit at my desk to work (I guess it's time to get a 2016 one!)

fishing at Peace & Plenty Farm
fishing at Peace & Plenty Farm
fishing at Peace & Plenty Farm
fishing at Peace & Plenty Farm

So after spending hours driving to and walking around enjoying these five farms, I can say that the kids an I had a wonderful time, but were thoroughly ready for a rest when we got home.  On our drive home the kids talked about all the fun things they saw and did and requested that next year we be a part of the farm tours also.  Unfortunately, we don't live in Warren County... but maybe we can do our own farm tour anyways!