ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Have you ever thought about farming? Maybe on a large scale or, perhaps, just as a hobby.
Next Sunday’s (Sept. 16) annual Open Farm Day in Nova Scotia will provide the perfect opportunity to see what both levels are about from the couple of Antigonish County farms participating.
For the large scale operation, folks can check out West River Holsteins dairy farm in Harbour Centre (1543 Hwy. 337) between 2 and 4 p.m. There will be facility tours, with static displays, and activities for kids.
For the hobby side, it’s a short, scenic drive to Southside Harbour Road where you’ll find Simply Ducky Farm, at address number 365.
“Meet and greet the goats with the kids, pet a potato, and hold a baby quail,” the notation on the Meet Your Farmer website (meetyourfarmer.ca) states, in promoting a visit to the farm.
“Take a guided tour of a small family-scale farming operation and learn what you need to know (costs, requirements, benefits), to safely raise your own chicken, pork, keeping goats for milk, as well as sheep (lamb) and quail. A selection of farm and local products will be available for sample and purchase.”
Simply Ducky Farm will welcome visitors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and owner Crispin Cornect talked about the goals of getting involved in Open Farm Day.
“Hopefully convince some people who are fence-sitters that, yes, you can do some of this yourself,” Cornect said.
“You can raise chickens in your backyard if regulations and rules allow. You can go ahead, if you have a small pasture, raise sheep, goats; but, more importantly, it’s to expose the kids to it.”
Cornect said he’ll do some farm tours now and he is surprised by, how often, interacting with animals, like his, is a brand new experience for kids.
“People come by and play with the animals and it’s staggering how few children have held a baby chicken, have been up close to an animal like a goat, or seen pigs in person. When you see someone make the connection, in a healthy way, that this is where our food comes from, you can’t teach that in schools … they don’t have the capability.”
He added he can understand some reluctance with younger children who could become upset with the connection.
“But, even if you don’t draw the direct line between what you see walking around will be on your plate, the idea is, it’s nice people know that food comes from somewhere, is raised by someone,” he said.
Cornect noted his people-friendly goats will likely be the main attraction.
“They’re going to be able to come into the field and get up close and personal with the goats,” he said. “All the goats have been bottled feed so they think we’re weird two-legged goats. They spend the first two-weeks of their life away from their mom being bottle feed, and in a playpen in the house.
“I’m the one who bottle-feeds the babies so they imprint on people. And then I milk the mothers so they imprint, even more so, on me. It makes them more agreeable; it’s a very positive interaction, so that is going to be the main attraction.”
Cornect said he doesn’t, necessarily, expect people to come away from visiting his farm with anything “concrete.”
“But I want them to leave with a positive impression and the idea that they could, if they wanted to, dip their toe into the water,” he said.
“And if people have questions about the practicality of it, I did all the research, I started this from scratch. This was all overgrown weeds, brambles and thorns, when I moved here five years ago.”
Another couple of farms in the region participating are Inverness County’s Mamie’s Alpacas and Lake Mabou Farms Ltd.
Mamie’s Alpacas, at 84 MacEachern Road in Glendale, will welcome visitors from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Lake Mabou Farms Ltd., at 724 Mabou Harbour Road, is a dairy farm and will be open for visitors from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.