By Michael Anthony
The Farm Day Tour is an annual AdFarm initiative with the purpose of providing AdFarmers with the ability to experience agricultural life first hand, not just from a truck but from the field; allowing boots and hands to dirty, promoting agricultural understanding and growth through action.
I recently came to AdFarm team and brought with me, an agricultural background in both marketing communications and in the beef production industry. It wasn’t until I got to the Farm Day Tour that I experienced a true passion for every aspect of agricultural life. When I boarded the bus early in the morning on November 1, 2012, I saw my fellow AdFarmers in jeans and coveralls with open hearts and minds, ready to take in the wealth of knowledge that came from every stop along the way. This made me realize that, despite working in an office environment, every one of my co-workers was passionate agriculture.
At Bles-Wold Dairy we were greeted by the owners of both the yogurt and milk production divisions. The owner of the yogurt production took us through a brief history of the organization and how her family had immigrated to Canada in the mid-1990s from Holland and what kind of changes her family went through to adjust to Canadian life and to become successful players in the Canadian dairy industry. During the tour I noticed the cleanliness of the facilities and the calm demeanor of the animals and was taken aback by the fact that, we found an even more intense milking schedule than the norm. Despite having automatic milking machines in place, there were three scheduled milking periods per day in the parlor for cattle that weren’t comfortable using the automatic machines.
After a fantastic meal and a great presentation from Ben Graham, we were on our way to Dentoom’s Greenhouse in Red Deer. When we walked through Dentoom’s entrance, we found a Christmas gift shop. We asked our guide why there would be a gift shop in the greenhouse and she replied, “This is our downtime of year and to keep ourselves busy during the cleaning and sanitization of all the equipment, we run a separate business”. As we toured the facility, we were able to see one worker preparing clones for new growth. She was a great sport to let 25 AdFarmers study her every action; her movements were so fluid that it almost hypnotized us. With a quick stop at the gift shop for some peanut brittle and a Christmas tree in a can we were off to our final stop of the day.
In my experience with large animal veterinarians, they have been older gentlemen who don’t talk much and rarely smile, which is understandable considering the demanding nature of their profession. Our tour guide Andy, from the Didsbury Veterinarian clinic, was the exact opposite; it was quite refreshing to see such a young charismatic veterinarian with a true passion for animal healthcare. He explained his relationship with the pharmaceutical companies he deals with and shared stories about his odd veterinarian experiences. To be able to perform life-saving procedures on an animal that is more than four times your size without having the ability to explain to it why you are performing it, is difficult for anyone, but, to be able to do this on a daily basis takes a very special type of person with a deep passion for animals and their well-being.
After a long day of learning and connecting with my colleagues I felt refreshed and sensed that we had all grown closer as a group. From all the AdFarmers, I wanted to extend my gratitude to Bles-Wold Dairy, The Raspberry Patch, Dentoom’s Greenhouse, and Didsbury Veterinary Clinic; without your enthusiastic participation, the Farm Day Tour could not exist.