Gray farm hosts ‘Open Barn Day’ to bring in winter tourism

Ten Apple Farm held an event to attract tourists after the holiday season. Cheese and milk were sold along with hikes and the chance to meet goats.

GRAY, Maine — Karl Schatz had little time to stand still Sunday morning as dozens of customers roamed the barn, trying to get a peek at the goats, chickens and merchandise spread out on the front porch.

“Enjoy those scones,” Schatz told a couple leaving his barn, part of Ten Apple Farm.

Schatz is usually not this busy in late January. The season after the holiday season is typically downtime for Maine farms recovering from the winter holiday rush.

“It’s a good opportunity for people to interact with animals,” Schatz said.

It’s also a good way for farms to make money during that downtime.

“One of the reasons we do this is to raise awareness about small farms…they are a challenge and a treasure. It’s great to see,” Schatz said.

Schatz said the money from opening up in the middle of winter has helped as hay prices skyrocketed due to a drought last summer that plagued dairy and corn farms statewide.

“We pay twice as much as we did as a couple. [of] Years ago…it’s really hard. ”

But overcoming hardships, smiles come.

Families all over southern Maine were checking out goats and other animals at Ten Apple Farm. Nearly all of them purchased goat cheese and merchandise.

For some local families, it will be their first time visiting the farm.

“I saw it on a local Facebook page that I’m on,” said Katie Widden.

Whidden lives with her partner Daryl and children Cecilia and Elliot in Gray, the same town as Ten Apple Farm, but has yet to visit.

“It’s just fun to see him interact with the animals…he’s not in school yet so it was nice to see other kids his age,” said Darryl Widden .

This social outing for many families wouldn’t have been possible without Ten Apple Farm opening up for the weekend after the holidays. If this weekend is successful, the farm will host an “Open Barn Day” on the last Sunday of every month, similar to the Sunday event.

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