Monday, August 5, 2013

Visitors Not Welcome! -- Danger on the Farm

Want to come visit my homestead? Not a chance!!! .....unless I already know you fairly well or you're a country-type person. You are free to look from the road, but that's it. Why am I so antisocial? Too many bad experiences in the past. Non-farm people are just an accident looking for a place to happen, they misinterpret what is going on around them, they tend to be obnoxious and ready to sue at the drop of a hat over stupid stuff. Gee, sounds like I don't like people. Hey, didn't I move to Hawaii to get away from those kind of people afterall? I don't see the sense of now inviting them onto my farm. 

Farms are dangerous places. They seem to be even more dangerous for city folk who haven't a clue about how things work on a farm.

I find that many non-farm people see my place as a free petting zoo. They are so out of touch with nature that they don't see the danger of trying to approach a ram, getting between a ewe and her lamb, of ducking under a horse's belly to get to the other side, or trying to pet a rooster. It's not smart to try to kiss a chicken on the nose, nor offer a finger to a bottle fed lamb without expecting it to grab it. They are either totally ignorant of the dangers or expect other people to ensure their safety. I don't wish to babysit those people, nor get sued by them when they get themselves injured.

Non-farm people don't listen or comprehend what is going on around them. For some reason they don't understand that the aisleways in the garden are there for walking. I've had plenty of visitors tromp on the veggie plants. I've seen them rip their clothing on barbed wire fencing. Even after being warned I've seen them walk into ditches, trip over rock piles, get zapped by the electric fence. I've seen people dip their hands into the barrels of manure tea and be appalled to find out what they just swished their fingers in. They approach animals that they've been told to stay away from. They just don't get the fact that things are dangerous on farms. I've had to stop visitors from trying to eat jicama beans, mistaking them for edible snap beans, and from eating the berries of  potato plants thinking they were some sort of cherry tomato.

Visitors have gotten mad when a chicken pecked them while feeding them corn out of their hands. Angry at me because their children started throwing horse turds at each other. Horrified that their toddler picked up and tried to eat sheep turds (mother said she thought they were berries. Gee, you let your child pick berries off the ground at home and eat them?) Mad at me when the rabbit scratched them when they tried to pick it up by its ears while they were petting it. I couldn't yell "stop" fast enough. Mothers have gotten upset because their kids step in manure, or put their fingers in their mouths after petting the horse. 

Then I've had others who are not just ignorant of the dangers of farm life and nature, but who are fearful of imagined dangers. One mother followed her family around with a bottle of hand sanitizer, making them wipe their hands after touching every animal and even after every vegetable! I had one women question the safety of the vegetables once I told her about using compost for fertilizer. She was certain that parasitic worms were inside the tomatoes, beans, etc. Another questioned the health value of my veggies because I never mentioned applying vitamins to the soil. Yet another, who was lucky enough to see a chicken lay an egg, was horrified to see where they come from and swore that my eggs would cause lethal diseases if not soaked in bleach before eating. Said he would never eat an organic egg in the future. 

Even after you successfully get people off the farm in one piece, you're not home free by any means. I've had people phone me the next day claiming they got food poisoning from eating the fresh peas off my vines. Now understand that these were English shelling peas, so the people had to take them out of the pods where the peas were totally isolated from any soil, manure, or compost contamination.  I've had another claim that they were having migraine headaches now because of touching their butt to the electric fence. They wanted me to pay for the doctor visits, tests, and medications. A mother claimed that her child was permanently traumatized by the guinea hens and wanted me to pay for therapy. One visitor tried to claim that my border collie bit him in the hand and wanted me to pay his emergency room costs. Luckily the photo I took for them at the farm gate when they were leaving showed his hand to be perfectly healthy. 

The American society that tourists come from is totally out of touch with rural living. Let them learn about farming on someone else's place. I don't welcome the headaches and lawsuits. 


  1. LOL. I shouldn't laugh! But I loved this post. You absolutely hit the nail on the head, that most folks are so out of touch with the natural world that they are totally ignorant of how to live in it, or behave in it.

    I've had several folks ask if they could come visit after reading my blog, but I've said no to all but one (who I knew from years of correspondence and who had grown up on a farm herself). I think the no visitor policy is best, considering today's mindset.

    On another note, I can't help but worry for our future; these are the very people who are training the next generation to take over the world.

  2. There is no simple sign I know that would protect you from such ignorant folk - except "NO Trespassing". My warped sense of humor leads me to want to add in small print under that: "Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again."
    I never cease to wonder at the brazen extortion attempts, either. Have they no shame?

  3. I agree with Leigh, so many in American society are out of touch with the natural world. I laughed when I read the part about the guy who was shocked by the egg laying process and then swore off organic eggs.

    I am not a farmer or the outdoor type, but I am aware of the labor involved in farming. Growing up in Waimea our family had a large vegetable garden, fruit trees and chickens to supplement our food budget.I know such a garden does not compare with all that's involved in homesteading and farming. I do admire and appreciate all the labor that goes into such an enterprise.

  4. Knew there was a reason i'm antisocial ; )

  5. I do not allow visitors for one reason, and one reason only. Because they can track in something on their shoes, or on their clothing than can cause havoc on my farm. For instance - people who smoke cigarettes can, just by one touch - transmit a virus to my plants which will then spread like wildfire. They may have something on the bottom of their shoe; bacterial or virus and transmit it to my birds. People who contact me, I add them to my FB page so they can read what is happening at Expressions of the Heart Organics - and see pictures that I post. I will always answer questions or teach them to garden more successfully; no question is too small or too silly. When I first started the farm I let people come but I realized over time that people get fired up about doing something but then don't follow through - so that makes my time wasted. I had an intern once who was enraptured with being a farmer. Reality was another matter. Working 12-16 hours a day even if you are sick was an idea that she considered abuse. LOL!

    1. Welcome, Davilyn! Biosecurity can be a real concern. Diseases can be spread quite readily to both plants and animals. Insect pests are spread that way all the time, often causing severe economic hardship. Here in Hawaii the Ka'u coffee growers are trying to deal with the spread of coffee bean borer, often transported to farms via visitor and transient workers. Invasive weeds are another serious concern. On my farm I need to keep a constant eye out for fireweed, often transmitted by vehicles.

      I hadn't considered biosecurity as a reason to ban visitors, but it's a real good reason! Thanks for pointing that out.