I was recently invited to take part in the Kansas Farm Food Tour hosted by the Kansas Farm Bureau. Being a native Texas gal, I've always known about farms but have never really understood what truly goes into the farming lifestyle. What I can say now is that I know without a doubt that Kansas farmers are the hardest working people. I have a newfound appreciation and respect for all of those who had made it their life's work to feed our country and even greater, our world. I was privileged to meet so many families along the tour and I want to share a little bit about a few of them with all of you.
Kansas Farm Food Tour Highlights
Our first stop was to the Good Farm in Olsburg, Kansas. Craig Good and his wife, Amy were the most gracious hosts I've ever had the privilege of spending time with. Aside from learning a ton about their pig farm and all the work and care that goes into maintaining it, I started to really fall in love with families who farm. One of the interesting and funny things I learned in talking with Craig is that pigs are truly an animal who never overeat. So, the next time someone tells you you eat like a pig, consider it a compliment! Pigs actually eat until they're satisfied and then stop, contrary to popular opinion. I also learned that biohazard is of utmost importance on a pig farm. We were asked to wear shoe covers as we visited the farm and took a tour. The germs that we humans can transmit to the pigs and make them gravely ill. And there were so many cute little piglets that I would have felt awful had I brought in a contaminant that would have made one of them sick.
Craig and Amy hosted a delicious lunch from Little Apple Brewing Company in Manhattan, Kansas. I must admit I had heard of the restaurant before but have never actually visited. Now that I have tasted some of the flavors that they offer, I am a fan. The Goods have poured their heart and soul into their farm. I am so thankful that I got to spend part of my day with them and now have a deeper understanding and appreciation for pork farming.
Our next stop was Meier dairy in Palmer Kansas. They are the home of the first robotic dairy in the state of Kansas, which I thought was pretty cool! Rhonda Meier showed us around her farm and we even got to visit with the sweetest baby calves!
I will say that I feel like dairy farmers are truly the hardest-working farmers in the world. They work around the clock because yes, even machines require maintenance and supervision. They take great care in their cows' happiness. They check on them daily to make sure they are not showing signs of illness or distress.
Next up was the Holle Farm in Atwood, Kansas. Beth Holle, wife, farmer, and mom of 4, actually joined us on our tour and I had the best time cultivating a friendship with her. She is so down to earth, a sweet person, and passionate about farming and feeding people. It was so great to have her on the entire tour with us to offer her thoughts and opinions. She answered questions for us as they came up about farming, the tour, or farm life in general. The Holle Farm has crops, cattle, and pigs. The day that we visited them they let us climb on the tractors and get into the combines to see how they operate from behind the wheel. It was such a cool experience and I will never forget it! What I took away from this experience the most is how far technology has come and how smart you really have to be to be a farmer. There is so much thought in the planning of the crops - where they're going to be planted, and even in navigating the GPS system of the machinery. Technology has paved the way to the advancement of so many industries, including farming. It is amazing to learn about all of the tools these farmers have now to run their farms efficiently and for the betterment of us all.
Our next stop at Dalebanks Angus Ranch in the Flint Hills of Kansas, really made me homesick for my great state of Texas. This stop was truly out of the movies! Cowboys, prairie grass, and baby calves. It was so beautiful and so picturesque that I did not want to leave. We enjoyed lunch at the home of Matt and Amy Perrier. It was an interactive lunch as Matt and Amy answered many of the questions we had surrounding cuts of meat, meat processing, and other questions related to cattle farming. We even got to see a baby calf who was just a few hours old and had been born just earlier that day! The backdrop of the beautiful Flint Hills was just so perfect.
These are just a few of my favorite stops and highlights from the Farm Food Tour. I have a newfound love for farming and farming families. I have been able to share some of the details of my trip with my own kids and open a dialogue in hopes that they can better understand where their food comes from and how other people help ensure that it is good for their bodies and wholesome. I want my kids to have an appreciation for food and for all of the work that farmers across the great state of Kansas and other states have dedicated themselves to.
What struck me as a common theme as I visited all of these farms ,is the deep-rooted respect that these farmers have for their animals. Although they realize that they are there to produce an end product - food for humans - they take great care and great pride in delivering a quality product.