MENOMONIE — Spring is typically a busy time at Govins Farm.
For the past 15 years, John and Julie Govin have had thousands of people come through their Dunn County farm during lambing season each year. Typically beginning in March and running into April, the Govins have opened the lambing barn at Govin’s Meats & Berries to the public to offer visitors a chance to hold a baby chick, lamb or piglet or pet a goat or alpaca during their annual Lambing Time on the Farm.
This year, like nearly everything due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things are different.
With restrictions on the size of gatherings put in place because of COVID-19, the Govins were not able to allow the public into their barn to experience the farm babies this year. But rather than cancel the spring lambing tours entirely, the Govins worked with the Dunn County Health Department to put together a safe drive-thru version of their farm baby experience.
“We thought we wouldn’t be able to do anything,” Julie said. “People kept asking if we could just delay it, but in a couple weeks the baby animals are too big to hold and they get moved outside.”
To make the best of their difficult situation, the Govins put up a tent housing several pens of sheep, goats and pigs with enough room to drive an automobile down the center and hosted Govins’ Drive-Thru Tent Farm Babies over the course of two weekends in April.
Visitors were required to remain in their vehicles at all times and were asked to purchase tickets to the event online at the farm’s website. The Govins created an audio tour for visitors to listen to while in line on the farm.
“John is usually the one out in the barn answering questions,” Julie said. “We aren’t able to do that this year, but we still wanted to be able to educate people. We took a few pieces of equipment and put a little something together to make it an educational experience.”
While the drive-thru is better than nothing, it is running for fewer weeks than a typical lambing season, and Julie said she expects the farm to earn about a tenth of what they would in a normal season.
“It’s helping the community, but it’s a small piece of what we would usually see,” she said.
The Govins are now working with county and state health officials on plans for their next big draw to the farm: strawberry season.
“We don’t know if people are even going to be allowed to pick their own strawberries,” Julie said. “But we’ve got a bunch of wide open space, so we’re trying to get it worked out.”
Julie said with businesses struggling during the coronavirus outbreak, it takes some ingenuity to get people out and able to contribute to the local economy.
“We’re all in this together,” she said. “We need to get out and support small farms, small businesses.”
For more information, visit govinsfarm.com or call 715-231-2377.