Farm tours, I'm talking about farm tours. Keith and I have always enjoyed showing folks our farm for all the reasons I talked about on yesterdays post but tours can be scary...scary in the eyes of the insurance carrier beholder that is.
When our farm products and offerings began to expand about three years ago we thought giving regular tours and charging for them would be easy enough way to pull in some more income. Before moving forward I, the wet blanket of many an adventure, decided to ask our insurance agent about liability. I specifically wanted to know what would be covered under our home owners policy.
|A friend of mine and her son who are at the top of my list for "Most Excellent Farm Visitors"|
Basically, nothing would be covered.
Well, nothing would be covered if we CHARGED a fee for the tour because that would bump us into the world of "agri-tourism." Elevating ourselves to that height would require a separate and more expensive agri-tourism policy. Turns out once you charge for something you bear the brunt of liability.
Facts are: tours take time and time spent doing tours is time taken away from other farm chores. Its hard for some folks, especially urban dwellers to understand the amount of work needed to tend a farm. Thus we ask folks to schedule a tour as we cannot always stop what we are doing to show people around.
So, instead we do not charge for tours but we tell folks that donations are happily accepted. We also happily accept purchases out of our farm store. In the last 5 years I can only think of one, maybe two (does family count?) groups who came for a tour and did not leave a donation. Probably because we didn't tell them one would be , once again, happily accepted.
Most folks are very pleased to contribute a small amount.
Our, oh OK, MY biggest concern is with the parents who bring the kids for a tour and take little responsibility for them. This is rare but even after I do my little dog and donkey show about electric fences (they hurt), animals in heat (they bite), tractors (no you may not turn it on and drive it) we still get folks who glare at me when I tell their children, politely; "Stop swinging the turkey around by its neck you little heathen !!" I meant to say "Heather", really I did.
But for the other 99.9% we are very willing to show them how we do things on this farm. We love telling the story of the nearly extinct Red Wattle hogs, the dairy cows that live 3-4 X's as long as feed lot cows, eggs that are laid in straw by hens they move freely in and out of the chicken house instead of living their entire short lives in a 2 foot square cage. So many wee ones have never seen farm animals up close let alone have the opportunity to actually touch and feed one. Their eyes light up, they giggle, they take pictures.
Their kids are pretty thrilled as well.