05/09/04 — Tour group gets a glimpse of life down on the farm

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Tour group gets a glimpse of life down on the farm

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 9, 2004 2:06 AM


News-Argus Staff Writer

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mama cows mooed at the hayride trailer when it didn't stop as it normally does on tours.

Two of the cows have had babies, and the other three are due any time.

The 45 adults touring Glenwood Farm on N.C. 403 east of Mount Olive Thursday morning didn't make as many stops along the way as the children normally do. The children hand-feed the cows and goats. The farm has 33 cattle, including five mama cows and 28 calves, a rabbit, chickens and a horse that plays in the same field with the cows. The horse kept up with the trailer, while the cows lagged behind.

Owners Kim and Glenn Davis gave the tour of the farm. Davis drove a tractor that pulled a flatbed trailer with two rows of seats lining the sides. It's used for hayrides and tours of the farm.

Many schoolchildren take the tour.

The tour has been successful with the schoolchildren, and Mrs. Davis said she wants to expand the exposure of the tours to adults. The group Thursday represented homemaker groups from several counties.

Kathy Cook of Onslow County had 12 people in her Extension Community Association group.

Ms. Cook grew up on a farm in Duplin County and moved to Jacksonville when she became an adult.

"If you grew up on a farm, you had to go to the city," she said. "I've been there about 50 years ... A farm, you will never get out of your system. I have a great big garden ... My husband grew up in the city. He doesn't understand. I love nature. It's green, it's pretty, it has life to it."

Mrs. Davis and a couple of helpers bottle fed three orphaned calves while the crowd watched from the trailer.

"We have orphans almost all the time," said Mrs. Davis.

One calf was born in December, and its mother died. Another cow bonded with another calf instead of her own. Another orphan just arrived two weeks ago. Two-year-old Duke was in the same pen with the other orphans. He was bottle fed after his mother went wild and had to be put down. He disappeared for a couple of weeks and was found in the bottom of a sink hole. The owner nursed him back to health and brought him to Glenwood Farm.

Duke should have been hamburger a year ago, but he only weighs 700 pounds because of the rough start he got in life. "He's nice and fat now," said Mrs. Davis. "He's just short."

Two of the new orphans will return to their owners, and the third one might stay, said Davis.

Mrs. Davis gives the tours, and her husband tends 2,000 cows on a farm near Kenansville. When a calf is orphaned, he brings it to his wife to bottle feed.

"Kids love seeing them bottle fed," said Mrs. Davis, who continues feeding each calf until her husband says stop. He's the farmer in the family, she said.

The trailer eased up to the pond, where catfish, carp, poi and bream swam toward the shore while Mrs. Davis handed out catfish food pellets. Some of the members of the group headed straight for the fence surrounding the pond to toss the pellets into the water. A few ducks and geese wandered across the fence for easier access to the food.

Four kid goats have been born on the farm this year. One of the goats in the pen next to the fish pond caught a horn in the fence trying to escape to where the food was being tossed.

The group had been to Buckner Hill Plantation near Faison, and later stops would be the Gray Fox restaurant for lunch and the Murray House Inn, Liberty Hall and the Cowan Museum.

The tours at Glenwood Farm started two years ago, when Davis and his wife bought it. Davis grew up on the farm. His family had tended the 97 acres for about 56 years.

The tours are a sideline for Davis and a passion for his wife, who has been involved with efforts to promote agribusiness tourism since its beginnings. She uses the Internet to let the public know what she's doing. She sends mail to schools and talks to the children about where their food comes from, which is not the back of the grocery store.

"The way agriculture is today, a 90-some acre farm is not going to make a great big living, but we can entertain some kids," said Davis, who has installed a playground shaded by pecan trees for the schoolchildren to take a break from touring and play a while. "A lot of kids are not exposed to the things I take for granted."

The tour groups coming in the spring pick strawberries, and if the strawberries aren't ready yet, they get to take home some seeds to plant.

In the fall, they see the pumpkins, pecans and gourds. The Davis family has hosted several birthdays at the farm and even had a wedding there in July.

Last year, the tour included a corn maze, and Mrs. Davis hopes to have another one this year.

Every Halloween, two fire volunteer departments have spook trails on the farm. The first year, 700 people came. Last year, 2,400 people came.

Every Christmas season, the farm features a $5 Christmas light hay ride tour from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. starting the Saturday after Thanksgiving and continuing until Dec. 23.