Our first step in making this day a success was to plan out which farms we would visit. There were various ones opening their doors all around the province, but there was a pretty large cluster of them around the Steinbach area, so that's where we focused our day. The first farm we went to had a free "Pork on a Bun" lunch sponsored by Manitoba Pork. We hit that one up first to eat some lunch and spent about half an hour or so playing a few carnival type games that they had set up and letting the kids jump in the inflatable bouncer. Next we were off to the bison farm! We took a trailer ride out to the pasture to see the buffalo which the kids thought was wonderful! We weren't allowed to get off the trailer to take a closer look because buffulo can't tell the difference between a person coming at them and a coyote trying to steal their babies. So if you get too close, they'll attack. And nobody wants to be bison food! This farm was our favorite one of the day and very much how Jared and I would someday like to run our own small farm - we don't want bison, but hopefully a few cows and chickens and maybe pigs. Anyway....the animals live outside 100% of the time. They are grass fed and the farmer doesn't use any sort of antibiotics or growth hormones on them. Very natural, which we are very much in favor of. He raises them to eat and we ended up buying a couple pounds of stew meat after the tour. It was delicious!
The next farm we visited was pretty much the complete opposite. It was a dairy farm with a few hundred head of cattle. I can't remember the exact number, but it was huge! There were a couple smaller cows outside when we pulled up that were very friendly! They came right up to the fence and let us pet them. Then we headed into the barn, which was interesting, but broke mine and Jared's hearts. The cows were all fenced in with a bit of straw and the barn was divided into two "sections". The first was the resting station which had a bit of hay for the cows to lay down in. If they wanted to get to the other section where the feed was, they had to walk past the milking station. It's all automatic and the milking machine uses infared sensors to detect where the teets are. So once the cow has been milked, it can go to the other side to get food. If the cow's udder isn't full enough yet, it has to go back to the resting station until it's full enough to be milked. We didn't ask if the cows were ever put out to pasture - I sure hope so! Apparently some of the cows milk up to 6 times a day. It made me sad to think of them being cooped up in there doing nothing but eating and producing milk ALL.DAY.LONG. What a sad life for them.
The last farm we hit up was fun for the kids, but Jared and I were a bit disappointed with it. They had what they called, "Scarecrow Forest" and you could walk through the woods at the back of their property and there were different scarecrow scenes set up - washing dishes, camping, playing hockey, etc. It was neat to see, but nothing spectacular. They also had some fresh veggies for sale, but nothing I was interested in buying. They had some old John Deere tractors on display which the kids enjoyed and one very large John Deere for them to climb onto. I think that was the highlight of the day! They also had a 'bale maze' which was basically ten bales making a path to a bunch of round bales for the kids to climb on. Not much of a maze at all! There was also a petting zoo, which turned out to be a goat, a couple chickens and two bunnies. But we weren't even allowed in the cages to pet them. We also could have paid extra money to do the zipline, but we already had to pay to get into the forest, so we declined. They were offering free tractor rides for the day (normally you'd pay extra for them too) and it was a bit of a bust as well. It was a tractor pulling a bunch of steel carts and the girl driving took us down the ditch along the edge of their property for about a mile and then back. She kept zig-zagging while she drove and it made me motion sick. The kids thought it was okay. Overall, we still had fun, but it sounded a lot better in the description than it actually was. At least the kids had fun and it was a fun day away from the city.
And now, without further ado - the pictures! It was a beautiful day outside so I got some great shots of the kids!
On our way out to see the buffalo.
The very friendly cows that let us pet them.
Inside the dairy barn.
That is one full udder!
At the last farm - "Scarecrow Forest"
Playing on the hay bales....
King of the bale maze!
Wandering the forest....
Playing on the antique John Deere's.
Shaela fit inside the tire of the large John Deere!