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Two Kentucky dairy operations entertain while educating

PD Editor Emily Caldwell Published on 08 June 2012

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The May 1, 2012 issue of Progressive Dairyman featured an article about dairy operations involved in agritourism through pumpkin patches. Click here to read it. While the idea of agritourism isn't exactly new, the need for a story developed when our editorial team began to realize nearly all of the people featured in "Meet your dairy consumer" last visited a farm by way of a pumpkin patch. Click here to read PD Editor Walt Cooley's explanation.

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The article highlighted the operations of Carlton Dairy Farm in Georgia, Oma's Pumpkin Patch in California and the Maris family in Oregon. Photos used in the article came from Kelsay Farms in Indiana and Stoner's Dairy Farm in Pennsylvania.

Since then, two other operations in Kentucky informed us of their annual pumpkin patches, and we wanted to be sure to celebrate the hard work and effort these dairy farm families are putting forth to educate consumers.

Carl Chaney of Chaney's Dairy Barn in Bowling Green, Kentucky, was a speaker at Alltech's Global 500 in December 2011. He talked about the family's venture into the ice cream business nearly 10 years ago and he shared some of his secrets to success.

The family realized that the operation needed to become a destination. Chaney's Dairy Barn features a restaurant, where they serve sandwiches and soups in addition to ice cream. They've worked with other local Kentucky businesses to sell food items and even incorporate local ingredients in their ice cream.

The Chaney family offers birthday parties, school and group tours and annual Barnfest during June Dairy Month. They also provide a special summer treat called "Ice Cream & a Moovie," where they show a G-rated movie on the side of the dairy barn every other Friday and Saturday, June through September. Admission is free, and the family has had as many as 400 people in attendance.

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Along with a pumpkin patch each fall, the Chaneys offer a ride to the pumpkin patch and include a farm tour. The tour program last year provided a dairy education to more than 8,000 children and adults. During June and July, the Chaneys offer a "Family Farm Tour" every Monday and Friday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

"What I think is most important is the tours to the farm where people learn firsthand what dairying and agriculture is all about," Chaney says.

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Chaney believes visitors particularly enjoy interacting with Miss Glimmer, the Jersey who serves as the "spokescow" for the dairy. The movie nights feature a four-minute introduction of the farm, provided by Miss Glimmer herself. Click here to see the video on the operation's Facebook page.

Another Kentucky operation letting the cows speak for themselves is Alpine Hills Dairy Farm in Dry Ridge, Kentucky. Our June 11, 2012 issue features an interview with Shelley Colson about the operation's social media efforts and fun posts where fans are encouraged to come up with a caption for a photo featuring their Brown Swiss cows. Click here to learn more.

What that article didn't delve into was the farm's unique on-site activities in the fall. Colson's family has been operating Country Pumpkins for nearly 10 years. Combining the pumpkin patch with fall dairy tours makes for a busy – but fun – fall season, Colson says.

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The Colsons gear tours and activities for younger children, usually pre-school through kindergarten.

"We try to keep the educational part interesting but not too long. We've added some fun things over the years to help get their energy out," Colson says.

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The educational portion features the opportunity to bottle feed a calf and to milk "Molly Moo," a lifesize cow that Colson can guarantee won't kick.

The tour also often includes a presentation called "Dirty Jobs with Dr. Lipps," where Colson's sister-in-law Melissa talks about her responsibilities as a large animal veterinarian.

The "fun things" the Colsons provide include a petting zoo, straw maze, a corn box (instead of a sand box) and – the highlight for this kid-at-heart editor – a barrel train.

The barrel train acquisition has a unique story too. Shelley and her husband, Matt, were recognized as Dairy Farmers of America Mideast Area Members of Distinction at the annual meeting in March.

There they met yet another outstanding dairy farm family providing a pumpkin patch, Gunter Farms in Missouri. Lloyd and Jane Gunter, also Brown Swiss breeders, bonded with the Colsons and offered for their son to make a barrel train for Alpine Hills.

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The train arrived a month later, much to the delight of a group of youngsters going on a spring dairy tour. The 12-"car" train is able to be pulled by a four-wheeler.

The fall season of 2011 alone brought more than 2,000 visitors to Alpine Hills Dairy Farm. Colson says the family holds regular meetings to brainstorm new ideas and ways to offer an unforgettable dairy farm experience.

Does your dairy operation host a pumpkin patch or other agritourism activity? Leave a comment below or click here to email PD Editor Emily Caldwell.

PHOTOS
TOP RIGHT: Dairy producers across the U.S. have discovered that agritourism through activities like pumpkin patches is a great opportunity to educate consumers about the dairy industry. Photo courtesy of Shelley Colson.

MIDDLE RIGHT: Miss Glimmer serves as the "spokescow" for Chaney's Dairy Barn. Click on the photo to see a video of her. Screen capture from Chaney's Dairy Barn Facebook page.

BOTTOM RIGHT: These two photos depict just a few of the unique activities that Alpine Hills Dairy Farm offers. Photos courtesy of Shelley Colson.

00_caldwell_emily

Emily Caldwell
Editor
Progressive Dairyman
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