Seventy staff members of Ohio Farm Bureau spent a day touring agriculture in Muskingum County as part of Employee Day, which was organized to help the staff members connect with rural Ohio and different aspects of agriculture in the state.
In addition to farm tours, local elected officials and community organization leaders were invited to join staff members for lunch so staff could better understand the leaders’ roles at the county level. County Farm Bureau leaders and county Farm Bureau office staff also joined at lunch to give a glimpse into how counties operate at that level, according to staff member Rebecca Everman, who helped coordinate the day.
Everman said future employee days will happen two more times with one touching on food processing in Ohio and the other looking at the steps farmers are taking to improve water quality.
“Most staff members grew up on farms or have some type of farm background, but some did not. Either way, the day was an opportunity to help expose the staff to new aspects of agriculture,” she said.
The staff members were split into three groups and each group toured three operations: Hogue Dairy, owned by Larry and Alan Hogue; KD Guest Ranch, owned by Dave and Kari Burkey and The Alpacas of Spring Acres, owned by Dr. Albert and Rebecca Camma.
Hogue Dairy is Ohio’s second DeLaval VMS dairy farm. Delaval VMS is an automatic milking system provided to the cows any time they choose, according to Alan Hogue.
Each cow wears a collar with an activity tag. The tag tracks their milk production and feed needs. Also in the dairy barn were waterbeds and a swinging cow brush, both for cow comfort.
The Hogues milk 71 cows and the milk is marketed through Dairy Farmers of America, a dairy cooperative.
Robotic milking video by Kim Harless:
KD Guest Ranch in Adamsville is a working horse ranch owned and operated by Dave and Kari Burkey. The ranch opened in 2007 and offers inclusive packages. Guests learn how to groom their horse, put on the saddle and then can enjoy trail rides throughout the ranch. The Burkeys worked on ranches in other states and visited ranch owners out west to learn what would be most pleasing to their guests. In addition to horse riding, the ranch offers meals, swimming, water activities and hunting in the fall.
The Alpacas of Spring Acres in Zanesville is home to 87 alpacas, 77 of which are Suri. The animals are sheared in late April and the fleece is sent to America’s Natural Fiberworks in Preble County. Rebecca Camma told the group their farm is breeding for the highest quality alpaca fleece. They also have broadened their business to include a bed and breakfast and weaving classes. Camma said she would like to see a guild started in Muskingum County. Guilds help stimulate interest in fibers and help create a community for those who are already working with them.
The Cammas did not bring an agriculture background to their farm. “Thank goodness for Farm Bureau. We have so many questions and where would we be,” she said.
See more photos from Employee Day on Facebook.