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This Texas Farmer "Raises" Fun, And Kids
Dan Brubaker's farm is home to a herd of beef cattle and 160 acres of hay, but the barn and barnyard that once held a herd of milk cows is now dedicated to teaching children and adults where milk and other animal products come from.
For the past 12 years, busloads of children and adults alike have been coming to his Blue Barn Fun Farm near Pattison, Texas to learn about farming and to have fun. School children, company picnics, church groups, family gatherings and many other groups show up to have good, clean fun.
"Some 20,000 to 30,000 people go through our farm each year," says Brubaker. "It started with friends of my mother wanting to bring their kids out to see a real farm. She got the idea that other people might want to see it, too. The first year we had 800 visitors."
For Brubaker, entertaining and educating has become a big business. In addition to his family, there are 12 staff members. Grounds are kept neat and well manicured. Employees are put through a thorough training program so they'll be able to answer any question a visitor might ask.
Visitors see and handle everything from alligators to emus, pigs, geese, ducks, sheep, goats and rabbits. They are taught to milk an old Jersey cow, sex frogs in the fenced-in bull frog pond, and grind corn for the sheep in a hand powered grinder. They can see two breeds of deer, five breeds of exotic pheasant, two breeds of quail, five breeds of pigeon, peacocks, turkeys, and guinea hens, and 23 breeds of chickens. They can also see catfish eggs hatching, or catch crayfish in one of the two fenced-in ponds. Here, too, education is a part of the experience, as they learn about the difference in the male and female crayfish life cycle. And, of course, there are baby calves to pet and young rabbits to cuddle.
"We are always expanding, finding new things for people to see and do," says Brubaker. "This year we added a donkey and a miniature horse. Next summer we hope to get a buffalo."
Older model Ford tractors pull wagon loads of visitors to a park on the farm where there are basketball courts and barbecue pits, with seating for up to 1,100 people.
Brubaker relies mostly on word of mouth to attract customers. He does limited mailings with a brochure to schools that have not yet attended, naming other schools in their area that have visited in the past. The simple promotion appears to be very successful, as he draws schools from a 300 mile radius. Groups of less than 20 pay a $6.50 entry fee while groups of more than 20 receive a reduced rate of $5.50.
Reservations are necessary, says Brubaker. "If they don't call ahead, they may find me in the field hauling hay," he warns.
Contact FARM SHOW Follow-up, Dan Brubaker, Blue Barn Fun Farm, Box 425, Pattison, Texas 77466 (ph 281 375-6009).

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2001 - Volume #25, Issue #5