Are haycations the answer to struggling farms

Two “farm” stories in the news this week — one bad, one good.

Bad: A survey of farm management instructors in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system suggests the state’s farmers are facing a difficult couple of years. The report finds 40 percent of the farmers enrolled in the farm business management program expected to lose money this year, and projections suggest many farmers be forced out of business in 2010.

Good: Some enterprising farmers have figured out how to make a buck. Tourists will pay to do the work some farmers may consider drudgery, the New York Times reports.

These new farm stays are profitable. For three years, Scottie Jones has been subsidizing her small lamb and turkey business by renting out a cabin on her 60-acre Leaping Lamb Farm, about two hours from Portland, Ore. For $125 a night, visitors can feed the animals, bring in hay and learn the basic rule of farming: closed gates stay closed and open gates stay open. It now brings in seven times what she makes on her meat business, plus a little free labor.

“Even those people sitting on the porch drinking a glass of wine will come help me feed eventually,” she said.

It’s a haycation!

  • Jim!!!

    Mom sent us to our uncle’s farm (farm camp?) when we were kids. We harvested oats, baled hay, fed chickens and pigs, milked cows and even learned about butchering. Best stuff I ever learned.

  • momkat

    My dad had a truck farm (produce trucked out of the fields vs. a traditional farmstead) and several summers ‘gave’ us three kids each an acre of onions to take care of. Taking care of consisted of weeding on hands and knees and thinning on hands and knees. Thanks, Dad! We got the profits from our acre. The only problem was, there were never profits in onions. But we learned how to work hard.