Doug and Gregg Ode talked nonstop to friends, neighbors and even strangers at the 4th annual "Breakfast On The Farm" held in June on their dairy near Sioux Falls, S.D.
More than 800 people ate eggs, pancakes and sausage; drank milk; and learned a little bit about farmers, cows and dairies in the process.
The Odes opened their Royalwood Dairy for all to see. People wandered in and out the freestall barn; watched cows being milked in the parlor; and checked out calves, dry cows and heifers in surrounding lots.
Agriculture United for South Dakota organized the event. The Rowena Rustling Raisers II 4-H club served breakfast. The Brandon FFA chapter parked cars and set up tables. Land O'Lakes donated milk. Dakota Layers, Flandreau, provided the eggs. Apple Tree Daycare, Sioux Falls, donated apple juice. Industry reps – including Mike Davelaar, Quality of Liquid Feeds, Steve Wilcke, Land O'Lakes; David Skaags, South Dakota Department of Agriculture; and Natalie Thyen, South Dakota dairy princess -- manned stations around the dairy to answer people's question.
And ask questions they did:
What are the cows laying on? (Sand -- like a beach.)
What's that smell? (It's not manure – it's the silage they are eating.)
How long to do you keep your cows? (Five or six years is typical for the industry, maybe more for some farms.)
Wouldn't cows rather in a pasture? (Not in winter when it's cold, or in the summer when it's hot, or in the spring and fall when it's muddy…)
"We answer everything and show them everything," Doug Ode says. "We don't have any secrets."
Tom Sohre and his wife, Jennifer, of Sioux Falls, brought their daughter Clari and son Landon to the farm for breakfast.
"It's something we would have even paid for," Tom says. "Kids don't have the chance to get on the farm anymore. Heck, even adults don't."
During his visit, 8-year-old Fiona decided she liked cows. In the freestall barn, she held out a handful of feed to a friendly, curious cow.
"I'm going to be a dairy farmer when I grow up!" she exclaimed.
As young woman, left the farm she called out to Doug and Gregg, "Thanks for the party!"
If you are ever are asked to host a community event such as Breakfast On The Farm, "do it," Doug says. "Don't even give it a second thought. We need to promote agriculture. We need to do public relations events like these. They make a difference."