AUGUSTA, Maine — A few weeks ago a tourist who’d stopped alongside a farm in Maine startled a baby lamb, sending it into an electric fence. Word of the incident got passed on to the Maine Department of Agriculture, which came up with some guidelines that people, especially those who’ve spent little or no time in the world of agriculture, would be wise to follow when dropping by any of the hundreds of Maine farms that welcome visitors.
The Agri Etiquette tips, as they’re called, are mostly common sense—for instance, be mindful of the animals. Still, it’s a good list and worth checking out, particularly if you’ve got friends from the city or suburbs who want to visit a farm and can’t tell a ram from a lamb.
#1 Mind the animals: You’re on their turf. Loud noises and sudden, unexpected movement can startle animals. Just like humans, they are protective of their young. In other words, don’t get between a mama cow and her calf!
#2 Drone free zones: Reckless drone behavior scenario #103, piloting your drone over a beautiful Maine farm to get a closeup photo of the baby lambs. Respect the lamb! And the farm owner’s privacy. Leave it in the car.
#3 Keep it clean: Wash your hands after touching farm animals. Use hot and soapy water and if no running water is available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
#4 Don't assume farms are always open to visitors: Working farms sometimes just don’t accept visitors. Others have set times for tours. Some welcome guests during normal business hours. Look for signs, look online, and when in doubt, move on!
#5 Teachable moments: Teach kids to respect farm animals and to be cautious when visiting a farm. They need to know that farm equipment is not playground equipment. Most importantly, for kids and grownups, remember to thank the farmer for all of their great, hard work.
#6 Be mindful of road hazards: The rule of traveling on rural roads is go slowly and be extremely courteous. Farmers typically drive on the shoulder to give you a better view and room to pass. Just be patient.
#7 Spontaneous farm stops: If you are inclined to stop on the side of the road to enjoy a farm view, be aware of passing vehicles, animal crossings, railroad tracks and electriﬁed fences. Also watch for deep ditches and fresh cow patties.
#8 Be generous: Travelers visiting Maine want authentic down-on-the-farm experiences. If you make a connection with a farm, ask for their products by name where you shop. Also, if there’s a farmstand, purchase items for yourself and for your neighbors.
#9 Leave Daisy at home: The rule of thumb is no pets. Some farms allow dogs but they need to be on leash and must play nice with people and animals. Remember to clean up after your dog!
#10 Dress for success: We aren’t your mom, we just sound like her. Dress in layers, pack a sweatshirt, bring a hat, wear comfortable shoes or sturdy boots, wear clothes that can get dirty, choose long pants, watch the weather forecast. You’re welcome!
#11 No smoking, no drinking: For the safety of the animals and everyone else, do not smoke tobacco or e-cigarettes anyplace around or on a farm. Alcohol is also a no-no, you know it makes it hard to make good decisions.