I have a couple different stories to tell this week, but before I start I've had several people ask how to subscribe to the Blog. To do that you have to go to the Blog section of the website, you can not do it while in an individual blog post. At the bottom of the page there is a form you can fill out.
Last weekend was a really fun weekend for our family and all the credit goes to Kayla and her sister (Kalgary). There are certain family trips that you kind of know how they are going to turn out before hand, especially with children. Kids can take on different personalities depending on what you have planned for them. If you plan on taking them to a formal event you can almost bet on having to take at least one child outside throwing a temper tantrum, but if you take them somewhere fun you know the children will have a great time and for the most part behave (even if they are exhausted).
Kayla and her sister planned a getaway so that we could all get together, visit, and let the kids have some fun. Kayla's sister lives about six hours from us so we only see her a few times a year. This time they decided to meet in the middle and do something the kids would enjoy. I have to admit that they really nailed both portions of their plans.
We ended up meeting at a central location about three hours away from both of us in Fair Oaks, IN. What is in Fair Oaks, IN you might ask? Lot's of corn fields and hay fields, and let's just say there are probably more cows than people.
However, this is exactly what we had in mind as we visited the Fair Oaks Farms. Here is a video that pretty much sums up our day:
They have added a few more buildings in the last year since this video was published.
Prior to arriving I had no idea what Fair Oaks Farms was all about as I did literally nothing to plan this trip, I just packed my bag and drove the car.
We left around 7:00 AM for our three hour drive and when we arrived we met up with Kayla's family and proceeded to kick off the day. We headed toward the admission barn and bought out passes. The passes were to enter different buildings that had interactive learning areas for different types of farming. The Dairy Adventure and Birthing Barn (to watch baby calves be born), Pork Adventure, and the Crop Adventure were the main barns. Each barn did a very good job of teaching about each aspect of the farm with videos, games, displays, but most importantly games, games, and more games. There was also an area full of outdoor activities (rock climbing wall, jumping pillow, hay bale maze, corn pile to play in, exhibitors, and a display of giant pumpkins and squashes. The squash in this picture weighed in at 1,500 pounds.
Since Beckett wants to be a farmer (and a dog walker) when he grows up this was the perfect place for him to spend the day. We started off at the Crop Adventure and he loved playing the games. Most of the informational displays were to technical for him to grasp but he still learned a ton from videos and what we read to him.
Here Beckett and Brynleigh measure up against a corn stalk with various heights at different times of the year listed:
"Hey! Over here kids"
After the Crop Adventure we walked around their "Mooville" activities (rockwall, jumping pillow, etc.) and then ate lunch. I normally cringe at the idea of eating at tourist traps like this but the food was very good and it was very reasonably priced.
After lunch it was time for our Pork Tour that came with our passes. We were running late due to the cafe being swamped and jumped on our bus at the last minute. There is the main campus and they bus you a few minutes away to the different farms that house the animals.
The pig farm had three different buildings (all connected), a Farrowing Barn where you could see baby piglets being born and mothers feeding their piglets. A Growing barn where the pigs eat, sleep, and eat some more. There were several different pins in the growing barn. I believe this was the second or third pin here:
The Gestation Barn had all the pigs that were set to become mothers. I didn't get a picture of this building but it was really cool to see how much technology goes into feeding and making sure the hogs are healthy. Each hog has an RFID tag that lets them into a feeding shoot and dispenses the correct amount of food. If the hog doesn't eat all their rations the feed will be taken away when the hog leaves the feeding area and if the hog re-enters the rest of the food will be dispensed. If the hog eats all their rations and later re-enters no food will be dispensed. Pretty cool!
The last part of the pig tour was to see freshly born piglet. One of the farmers brings a piglet that was only half an hour old up and talk about it and answer questions from kids. The farmer gave all kinds of interesting factoids about pigs, most of them had all the kids in awe. And the questions from the kids were priceless.
After our bus brought us back to the main campus it was time to explore the the Pork Adventure barn which was full of more interactive displays and a ropes course:
But Bryn had the most fun on this slide that connected to a miniature version of Peppa Pig's house:
With our dairy tour scheduled shortly after we returned from the hog tour we didn't have long to stay in the Pork Adventure before heading over to the Dairy Adventure.
We walked around the Dairy Adventure for a few minutes while we waited for the bus to the dairy farm. The bus drove around the farm and showed us where the silage is kept that they feed the cows. It was impressive to see how high they were able to stack the silage. They also need three silage piles to feed all the cows. Our bus even took us right through the middle of the barn:
It was hard to get a good picture but these cows had some very impressive facilities. The most impressive of the facilities was the dairy parlor:
Here is a close up of the pumps connected to the utters, or at least as close as I could get:
Here is a shot of all the cows waiting to get into the parlor to be milked. The cows were in the corral and would enter one by one (pretty much without assistance) and go around and after one rotation they would step off:
After the Dairy Tour we headed back to the campus to finish the Dairy Adventure to learn more about dairy production. They taught us about feeding the animals and the history of dairy production. Bryn loved the replica dairy cows and petted everyone of them:
The Fair Oaks farms have between 80-100 calves born everyday and they have a barn where you can go and watch calves be born. This was Kayla's favorite spot as you can imagine she wanted to get in and help birth the calves. I didn't get any pictures here because I wasn't particularly interested and Brynleigh just wanted to run around in the auditorium so I had to take her back over to the Pig Adventure building so she could go down the slide some more. But Beckett and Kayla were both full of smiles and stories when we met back up about the two baby calves they saw be born. Beckett demonstrated how the mom licked the calves and how the calves even tried to walk. The last adventure we did was let the kids ride on a miniature train:
I promise they weren't trying to jump out.
To cap off the day we got ice cream from the cafe. I'm a big ice cream fan and normally compare everything to Whitey's Ice Cream in the Quad Cities. This was every bit as good as Whitey's and their root beer floats were out of this world!
While the three hour drive wasn't ideal, I will say that it was totally worth it and if you don't have the ability to easily visit a dairy or pig farm it is very interesting to see the operation up close and personal. I would strongly suggest going if your children have any interest in agriculture as it is worth the drive. You can also easily spend a full day there and be busy the entire day. Perhaps even a day and a half. Fair Oaks does a great job entertaining and teaching and everything is top notch!
As an insurance agent I look around at all the activities and investment that they have and think of all the risks they are exposed to. I can't even begin to imagine how much they have invested into such wonderful facilities. This is one business that I think Beckett would be pretty happy if I was able to insure (dreaming....) and I'm sure he'd have to come along to visit every time.
As many families become more and more removed from agriculture Fair Oaks is a great way to learn about and connect with something that surrounds our communities, yet many people don't have a full understanding of.
The part that I'm sure you're all waiting to read about is our trip to the emergency room. I've always said that Brynleigh would have more trips to the ER than Beckett and so far she is leading the way. 1-0.
She had a couple incidents of hitting her head one day within a few hours of each other. After the first hit she became pretty lethargic and showed some other signs of having a possible concussion. She seemed to be doing pretty well early in the evening. She ate a great dinner and was starting to act normal again before she hit her head again. Just to be safe we rushed her up to the ER after her second hit. As soon as we got there Bryn started acting like normal and wanting to play. Regardless, Kayla and I both felt much better with her getting a CT scan just to make sure she was okay. Kayla stayed with her in the CT room while I waited outside. This is when my stomach started to turn, not being able to be by her side makes things so much worse. Brynleigh cooperated through the scan and a few minutes later we were back to her room. Waiting for the results was tough but being able to see her play and talk helped reassure me that she was fine. Shortly after we returned to the room the doctor came and said everything checked out normal.
I was very thankful for the CT scan to come back normal. I was also very appreciative of the ER staff at FHN. Everyone was very nice and did a great job keeping Bryn calm. The gentleman that did the CT scan was particularly great considering he was working with a 1.5 year old toddler. Brynleigh was loved the stuffed animal the doctor gave her. We decided to nickname it "Bonk" and she likes to have it in her crib at night next to her, perhaps it is a reminder to be a little safer.
That pretty much wraps up this week. I hope to get to the EPC vs. Forreston football game tonight and then hope to go out on the Lake Carroll ATV trails and check out the leaves changing color as well.
Stay safe and insure I see you next time!