Hoop Barn Open House

A far-off shot of the barn entrance, where tables were set up and the food was served. Many thanks to Earl from Hanson Silo for taking all the pictures!!

One reason why this past week was so hectic, was that we were scrambling to get the hoop barn completed enough to be presentable for the open house/celebration of agriculture we had on Tuesday afternoon.

Justin doing a radio interview to promote the event.

Before we constructed the barn, we toured other farms to see what our options were for building a new cattle shed.  Since the farmers were gracious enough to allow us onto their farms, we figured we needed to pay it forward and allow other farmers to come take a look at our new barn.  We also felt it was important to allow our farm neighbors in the area to visit and learn more about how cattle are being cared for with new technology.

It was a beautiful day for a farm tour.

So, I put in a call to Aaron at the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers, and explained to him what we would like to do.  He and the Coalition were awesome, but we already knew this from when we were in the planning stages of this barn.  They helped us to understand what sort of regulations and other considerations we needed to be aware of in building the barn.  Then they stepped in and did the majority of the logistics and planning for our “barn party” as Russell called it.  They also handled much of the expense.

Lots of people, both farmers and farm neighbors, attended.

We advertised on the radio and in the papers, to invite the general public out to our farm for tours, a free meal, and door prizes.  I sent invites to key people in the county and contacted several of the people we do business with for sponsorships.

MMMMMM....Beef!

The kids and I went down to the barn (which is only about 1/2 mile from our house) on Monday afternoon to see how things were progressing.  To say I was nervous would be an understatement.  You see, my family is a very last-minute family.  There were still piles of rock to be leveled, cement was being poured, and a huge pile of construction junk laid right in front of the building!!  We did what we could to clean up around the barn, but there is only so much you can do with three small children in tow!  We went back home, and went to bed, hoping things would come together.

Many thanks to our sponsors, we couldn't have done this without you!

The next morning (the morning of the open house), Justin called me to tell me there were at least 20 people down there working to get things ready… whew!  So I stepped outside to wait for the bus with Russell, and that’s when I heard it, bellering calves!!  What the heck!  I knew there were calves  coming in that night, but someone neglected to check if they were weaned.  Oh I was mad!  Justin is lucky I didn’t make him send them back!!  They were not happy about being in a barn without their mamas, and they were going to let the whole world know about it.

Yay! Cattle in our barn, at last!! Now, if only they were a little quieter...

So I got Russell on the bus, loaded up the girls and took them to daycare, then headed down to the barn.  Equipment and workers were running all over the place, moving rock and dirt, and cleaning up in general.  The calves looked at me as if to say, “Are you my momma?”  Well, I suppose I am now, huh?  Justin and I gave them some bedding and fluffed it up for them, that was just what they were looking for, as they laid down and took a nap.

The cattle were tired from their ride and late night arrival at the barn. So Justin and I "made their beds" so they could take a nap.

We had so much help in getting ready for this party, I don’t even know where to begin thanking people!  Our cattle nutritionist and a few other Silveredge Co-op employees did a lot of work in setting up tables and general helping out.  Other sponsors contributed as well, thanks to our fuel salesman from Three Rivers FS for helping clean up and providing a tank and ice for the pop.  Even the construction crews bent over backwards in getting things ready!

We had so many people that cars were parking on the road!!

As people started showing up, Aaron and Kent from the Coalition kicked into high gear and did a great job of setting the atmosphere of the celebration.  I will be forever grateful to Earl from Hanson Silo for taking photos throughout the day… as I didn’t take a one!!  I was practically bouncing off the walls…checking on the food, doing radio interviews, chatting with guests, drawing door prizes, and explaining the ins-and-outs of the barn.  The evening really flew by, and from what I hear, everyone had a really good time.

Thanks to the Delaware County Cattlemen for grilling!

The greatest thing in hosting this party, was seeing just how much the community is still interested and involved in agriculture.  I was blown away when I started adding up all the sponsors that support us and that our farm helps to support:  Silveredge Co-op, Three Rivers FS, Lextron Animal Health, Ryan Veterinary, F & M Bank, Hanson Silo, Accu-Steel, Inc, the construction businesses, electrician, and so so many more!!!

A gorgeous fall evening made a nice setting for our visitors.

The attendance was beyond anything we could have imagined.  We were planning for 300 and figured that we would probably have left over food.  Justin came to me at 7:00 and told me we were out of burgers… luckily, I had made up a roaster of maid-rite meat “just in case.”  But even that was wiped out within an hour!  My best guess is that we had around 400 people in attendance.  Probably half farmers and half farm neighbors.

Just another picture of the barn and all the festivities.

I was also excited to show our farm to our farm neighbors, who may not have had a chance to set foot on a farm in recent years.  This was probably the best part for me.  Sometimes I think our closest neighbors get nervous when they hear stories in the news about today’s food providers.  To be able to look my neighbors in the eye, take them by the hand,  walk around our farm, and answer their questions was an experience that was as rewarding for me as I hope it was from them!  We farmers sometimes get so wrapped up in our work that we forget to really appreciate the consumers who buy what we produce.

If you ask Ralph why he built the barn, one of the (big) reasons he will tell you is that it was for his grandkids.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. We worked with the Coalition for our open house, too. My husband wasn’t sure we should do one, but I’m SOOO glad we did! It was such a fun celebration for the beginning of our farm. And the coalition was awesome!

    Glad yours went well! Looks like a great turn out!

  2. What a wonderful idea to open up your farm. So glad that the event turned out great. Looks like your family had a great time in the pumpkin patch. You need to check out the corn and cow pumpkins I just blogged about. Have a great fall!

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