OK – I might have a bit too much time on my hands – BUT – I’ve found ways to make it interesting. How? By exploring things you usually never have time for – like – a Farm Tour. Yes – a farm tour. Believe it or not, Volusia Countyhas been having annual farm tours for decades. Last week I took part. As did a surprisingly large number of people. And – yes – it WAS interesting.
The tour started at Deep Creek Preserve, nearly 5, 000 acres of nature at it’s best. Formerly owned by the Leffler family, the land was purchased as part of the Volusia Forever land conservation program. And it is definitely cattle country out there. The Lefflers still lease part of the property and have been raising cattle on it since the fifties. Driving waaaay back into the heart of the property you could truly imagine what Florida was like during the cracker days. Nothing but pine trees, scrub and cows as far as the eye could see.
Listening to Mr. Leffler describe the cattle business was fascinating. Yes – I said fascinating. Did you know that Florida produces more beef cows than Texas? Well neither did I. And while your initial thought may be that Cowboys aren’t the brightest bulbs in the box – I learned that raising cows and making money ain’t easy.
You better know a lot about science and math or you’re going to lose money big time. I was impressed to say the least.
Stop number two on the tour was at Mike’s Cichlid Farm where they raise – go figure – Cichlids. Again – out in the middle of nowhere – this really cool couple raises thousands of cichlids that they supply to pet stores and also sell retail online all over the country.
I like fish – both to eat and to look at – but I never realized how hard it is to raise them for all of us aquarium lovers out there. It’s a tough job that never ends. Between feeding, cleaning, and making sure the water temperature is perfect, there’s never a day off. My hats off to those folks!
The last stop of the day was at the Tropical Blossom Honey Company. This was old fashioned Florida and manufacturing combined.
About 10 employees hand processed and packaged the honey on a basic assembly line starting from the comb to the packaged product.
Bees buzzed, honey dripped and product was prepared. The honey was incredible – nature’s treasure – so good for you – and so tasty!
I learned a lot throughout the tour. I could bore you ad-nauseum with the factoids – but – I’ll spare you. My biggest insight is that while most of us – especially me – live in a very citified world – there’s a whole lot of neighbors – closer than you think – that still make their living from agriculture – and aren’t we all lucky!!!