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SHOWING OFF: When folks stop by for a pop-in visit to the farm, they most likely have to take a tour and check out our "baby" bull.

The pop-in farm visit

Carrie’s Column: We are always busy, but stop by for a surprise visit.

I am unsure the reason it occurs. But it happens. And it happens often. Out of the blue.

At our farm, we often get the "pop-in" visit from our neighbors. By "neighbors," I am referring to anyone who farms within a 10-mile radius of us. Folks just show up, resulting in a range of pleasant emotions:

• Humor. In the age of cell phone availability where we are reachable to ask if we are busy, no one tends to phone us prior to visiting our farm to check to see if we are busy. We find this amusing. Why? Because I suppose our neighbors assume we are always busy. We are.

• Pleasure. In the midst of just about any activity on the farm, we find it warming to see a friendly face. The mere sound of tires on gravel makes us lift our heads from our activity. That break in the action reminds us that there is more to life than that broken piece of equipment or that one stray head of cattle that refuses to move with the herd. That old expression of a friendly face being a sight for sore eyes resonates with truth.

• Rest. When someone arrives, it justifies a break. Most farm folks do not know how to sit down and rest, so the arrival of someone to the farm might mean that it is time for some cookies that came out of the oven after breakfast, or a cold drink to cool off, or a hot drink to warm up. No matter the activity, the arrival of a visitor creates a reason to stop our activity, as well as catch up on the reason for the visit. Often, there is not a reason. Folks are just driving by and thought a "hello" was in order.  

So, if it is simply a friendly visit, what are the options then?

• Receive some help. If we happen to be under a tractor doing a repair, the visitor might lend a hand, either with an idea to fix the equipment that is down or offer fresh muscles to crank a wrench on a stubborn bolt. If we happen to be sorting cattle, the visitor might provide that extra presence in the pasture needed to coax the movement of the stubborn head of cattle to follow the herd. And if we are unloading hay or feed, an extra body is always a blessing. All of these have occurred at times, and there is definite benefit to some fresh eyes, fresh ideas and fresh energy to get the job at hand completed.

• Give some help. If the visitor stopped by to borrow something, it feels good to be in a position to offer some help. I suppose we are known in the areas as being "equipment-heavy." So, neighbors stop by with requests to borrow tools, trailers, tractors or other implements. While the visitor gains the use of needed equipment, we gain a friendly face.

• Show off. As mentioned with our farm being equipment-heavy, a visitor that stops by might pay witness up close to the latest and greatest addition to our farm, whether it is a piece of equipment or, better yet, a new calf. Then, the visitor who came to borrow something pays their "debt" by listening to our bragging rights for a short time. While they might simply want to borrow and go, we might enjoy a little admiration in payment.  

Call it right or wrong, we do not expect a phone call prior to a visit. We prefer the pop-in visit. And we do not post about our farm on social media. Again, we prefer the pop-in visit. Face-to-face communication, where visitors lend a hand and where we lend one back.  

Tomko is a freelancer, professor and farmer from Rittman.

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