It is a fact of life that the countryside around us is changing. Places where there were nothing but green fields and farm sites have been replaced with new neighbors seeking a rural lifestyle. Many of these new neighbors come without a rural background and are unaccustomed to the sights, sounds and smells of modern animal production.
While it may not be possible to turn every production site into a rural showcase, the appearance of our farms goes a long way to building acceptance by non-farming neighbors.
Mow the grass. While nobody expects a suburban-worthy lawn on a farm, regular mowing and weed trimming gives every site a business-like appearance. Adding a gravel border around the buildings gives them a clean look and makes trimming easier.
Maintain the driveway. Driveways full of ruts and potholes create a bad impression on traffic driving past the farm. Regular blading and filling the low spots go a long way to improving the site entrances. Pay particular attention to the borders and cut back any vegetation creeping into the roadway.
Plant border trees. The old axiom “Out of sight is out of mind” is especially true in this case. Neighbors will probably have less reason to smell a site they can’t see. While every region of the country will vary according to the best varieties to plant, fast-growing trees such as poplar, willows and cedars quickly create a “green screen.” Consider turning the border into a multi-species windbreak to provide habit for wildlife. It’s harder to consider a site a nuisance with pheasants, quail and deer taking shelter in the borders. Also “green screens” may provide some level of odor and dust control.
Cover up mortalities. The average death loss in a finishing house is between 2% and 3%. It can be a little shocking to a neighbor unfamiliar with the scale of a typical finishing operation to see several large hogs lying on the ground. While most dead boxes have a fence around them, it is not uncommon to drive down the road and see gates left open and a visible carcass.
We all have hectic schedules, and it is easy to put off grounds maintenance for tasks that seem more important. But taking time to do basic upkeep may help prevent bigger headaches with our community down the road.