Updated: May 24
Bill Leavitt of Lin-Lea Farms, center, answers questions of visitors as he and Chris Stark, left, do the morning milking. (Photos by Roger Sims, Linn County Journal)
For many of the producers on the Linn County Farm Tour on Saturday, April 30, it was a busy day. Scores of visitors pulled into gravel driveways, ready to see how cheese was made, taste free sandwiches made with farm-raised pork, get a closer look at buffalos, or see how a commercial dairy operated at milking time.
Operators interviewed by the Linn County Journal seemed pleased with the turnout despite stormy weather the night before. The tour was sponsored by Clinch Realty of Pleasanton.
Some Linn County farms were included on the Miami County farm tours in the past few years. However, Brandon McGinnis, owner of Clinch Realty, said he wanted to see a tour that featured Linn County growers and producers.
Charles Leavitt of Lin-Lea Farms Inc., one of the few commercial dairies remaining in the region, said there was a steady stream of visitors to the operation’s milking barn south of Mound City. The operation milks about 140 Holstein cows twice a day, with visitors getting a chance to see the milking that began at 11 a.m.
Bill Leavitt, who runs the milking part of the operation, described the steps in the milking process to visitors as he and his helper, Chris Stark, herded a dozen cows into the milking parlor at a time. After the pair sanitized and dried the cows’ udders, they hooked up milking machines that would end up pumping the milk to a 3,000-gallon refrigerated holding tank, which held about two days’ worth of milk.
Bill Noffke, right, of Skyview Farms and Creamery, prepares cheese samples for Amanda Ott, left, and Adonna Duckworth of Paola during Saturday's farm tour.
Visitors to Skyview Farms and Creamery got a different perspective on the dairy business. Owners Bill and Sherri Noffke milk a significantly smaller herd of Jersey cows at their Grade A micro-dairy. The Jersey breed is known for producing milk that has a higher percentage of cream. The Noffkes make artisan cheese from the milk, as well as selling raw milk and other products.
With a storefront on the farm, the Noffkes are accustomed to customers pulling in the driveway, but thanks to the farm tour, they were particularly busy.
Eric Castle of Castle Farms Fresh Meats south of Pleasanton reported that he and his wife April were also busy during the farm tour. Later in the afternoon on Saturday, he was finally able to get away for a few minutes to help move his pens of free-range chickens in the pasture along with helper Taylor Burns.
And while most of the operations on the tour were located in the Pleasanton-Mound City area, many of the visitors coming from the north stopped by Rocky Suns Farms, just off of Kansas Highway 7 either as they headed down to see other farms or on their way back.
Rocky Suns owners Amanda and Dustin Michelle also said their on-farm store had been busy all day as well.
Other operations on the tour included
C&M McGinnis Grass-fed Beef, Pleasanton
Blue Dog Wine Co., La Cygne
Needham Goat Farm, Mound City
700th Homestead Club, Pleasanton
Make Family Farmstead, Pleasanton
Sprague Buffalo Farm, Blue Mound
Mosley Land & Cattle, Pleasanton
Mound City Ag, Mound City
Jayhawk-Linn High School FFA animal barn, Mound City
Farmers’ markets at Mound City and Pleasanton.
Taylor Burns, a worker at Castle Farms Fresh Meats, moves portable chicken pens across the pastures