Barns, Birds, Buggies and Hay Bales

South Central and Eastern Iowa—2 days

Fairfield, Eldon, Moravia, Chariton

Day 1:

During the mid-1800s, farming began to evolve from being primarily subsistence to mixed farming. New technology, such as steel plows which became widely available in the 1850s, made it much easier to make improvements to farmland. This led to the emergence of ag innovation pioneers such as William Louden. Concepts developed and manufactured by the Louden Machinery Company in Fairfield, led the way to modernizing farm equipment and barn design, many of which are still in use today. As part of our tour, we’ll visit the historic Maasdam Barns at the Evergreen Ridge Stock Farm which is a significant illustration of an early 20th-century draft-horse breeding business.

Next we’ll see the house that started it all–you can strike your own American Gothic pose in front of the place in Eldon, Iowa made famous by Iowa artist Grant Wood. Costumes and pitch fork available.

We’ll spend the afternoon and evening at Honey Creek Resort, Iowa’s greenest resort. Nestled in a beautiful natural setting on the shores of Rathbun Lake, this eco-friendly resort offers interpretive programming including bird watching, star gazing, geocaching, kayaking and more. We’ll get a taste of southern Iowa cuisine, such as Honey Fried Walleye, and other dishes made with Iowa-grown or produced items. The culinary staff can create a cooking class or demonstration to give guests a hands-on experience preparing a recipe, which they can enjoy when completed.

Continued…Barns, Birds, Buggies and Hay Bales

Day 2:

Traveling by horse and buggy, hanging out the wash and cooking over a wood stove represent the simpler way of life in an Amish community where they live much as their ancestors did– operating farms, schools and small businesses without modern conveniences. In rural Lucas County, we’ll take part in a farm tour and visit the general store that sells baked goods, such as breads and pies, along with candies, and more.

Visit a family-owned and operated cattle ranch where Corriente cattle, the original cattle breed in North America, are raised. According to Slow Food USA taste tests they are low in cholesterol, calories and fat. You can enjoy a meal of grilled hamburgers and chili made from the Corriente beef you learn about on the tour.

Bird watching is one of the nation’s most popular outdoor activities. Lucas County is home to two of the state’s designated Bird Conservation Areas (BCA) so be sure to bring your binoculars and camera. In spring, the blooming redbud trees in the state park and forest areas are an especially beautiful backdrop for photos. In fall, you can take in the annual Hay Bale Art contest and see famous characters, pets, vehicles and more all created from hay bales. It’s a fun and entertaining way to celebrate the importance of farm land in the area and appreciation for our agricultural heritage. While traveling the roadways to find the “art”, enjoy the fall colors and other scenery of the area.

In this day and age, rather than picking most of our food from the garden, we pick it from the grocery aisle– but did you ever think about how it gets there? In Chariton we’ll get a behind the scenes tour of a state-of-the-art distribution facility for one of the nation’s largest and most successful grocery chains. You’ll find out how groceries are received, stored and shipped throughout the Midwest. See how bananas are ripened in special rooms, how ice is manufactured and bagged, how it feels to work in an enormous freezer and watch a multi-level “picking” system in action as orders are packaged for the stores.

A sweet treat is a tour of a local chocolatier where we’ll see how they make their famous candy and taste why it is a favorite of their customers found throughout the United States.

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