A full slate of activities Sunday will put the “Farm” in Farm-City Days.
For the second consecutive year, organizers have set up a “Day at the Farm” to wrap up Iola’s annual fall festival.
The activities, many of which are interactive, should be entertaining and educational for folks of all ages, particularly those unfamiliar with farm life, noted Steve Strickler, who owns the dairy.
A number of special guests will be on hand for the events, including Kansas Department of Agriculture Secretary Jackie McClaskey, as well as a number of Allen Countians who formerly headed dairy operations.
“We just thought it’d be a good idea to have people who knew a lot about dairy operations to help explain things,” Strickler said.
The theme for the 2016 Day at the Farm events is sustainability.
From treating its own water to recycling waste byproducts, many of the exhibits will illustrate the work that ensure Strickler’s environmental footprint remains as small as possible.
For example, the dairy catches rainwater runoff, which then is processed into clean drinking water through filtration and chemical additives such as chlorine.
“It’s the same process a city goes through to treat its water, only smaller,” Strickler’s farm manager Harry Clubine explained.
Strickler’s is capable of processing up to 25,000 gallons of water per day.
Elsewhere a fertilizer separator is used to increase the usage from animal waste.
Manure is recycled as a solid for bedding in animal pens, or composted and sold with garden soils. Liquids separated from the waste are applied to grassland, pumped into lagoons and eventually injected into corn silage grounds after harvest.
Dairy hands also will discuss the increased reliance on solar technology to curb energy costs.
Sustainability is such a vital component for farmers today, McClaskey agreed to be a part of the discussion, Strickler noted.
“We’re looking forward to it,” he said.
THE FUN begins at 12:30 p.m. at Strickler’s Dairy Farm on the northeast edge of Iola with a free dinner for the first 400 people who show up.
“We don’t want anybody to be disappointed, so if somebody doesn’t get a meal, we’ll have ice cream, too,” Strickler said.
Farm equipment will be on display, and a gigantic hay bale maze set up for youngsters to try to navigate.
Strickler also once again will set up photo opportunities for folks to pose with a calf.
The program gets underway at 1 o’clock with the discussion on sustainability.
Live music from Red Sky Home will follow at 1:30 with a selection of original acoustic and electric folk, rock and American music.
FARM tours run from 2 to 4 o’clock, but not before all attendees will be invited to partake in their own “cattle drive.” Strickler chuckles at the description.
“We’re going to be moving about four cows from one pen to another,” he said.
Nevertheless, the audience will line both sides of the cattle’s path to ensure the animals don’t try to get loose.
From there, the tours will take crowds to a series of farm stations, from the milking barn in which 350 dairy cows are milked three times a day, a veterinarian station to discuss animal husbandry and the feed piles.
One station also will be set up for cow judging.
“We’ll give the groups a chance to judge for themselves which animal is ‘best,’” Clubine said. “We’ll show them what we look for, and what’s important.”
Along the way, tour guides will provide a few nuggets of statistical information.
An individual cow, for example, eats more than 100 pounds of feed a day, accounting for more than half of all of the dairy’s costs. Veterinary and medical costs, meanwhile, cost more than $74,000 annually.
For those with mobility issues, a video feed of all of the tour stops will be shown beneath a large tent, Strickler said.