How-To Survive Your Summer as a Petting Farm Tour Guide

Thursday, November 12, 2015

**A creative non-fiction essay I was inspired to write today.  Hope you all enjoy.  And shout out to Green Meadows Farms, an amazing place to visit and work. (:


1.      Read the employee manual in the days prior to your first tour.  Spout off animal facts to your family at all hours of the day.  Ignore their pleas for silence.  You have to be ready.

2.      Do not get too cocky when, on the first day, you are given a well-behaved 30-child group.  They are easing you in.  This will not last.

3.      Do not quit when, on the second day, you are given an unruly 65-child group and you realize that yesterday was a scam. 

4.      Revel in your skills as you spout off facts about chickens as though you grew up on this very farm. [you did not; you grew up in the suburbs.] [Also, it should be noted that chickens lay eggs the same color as their earlobes]

5.      When your group’s teacher decides that they know more than you because they’ve “been here before”, resist the strong urge to yell, “Well this is my job, you fool!  How about you focus on not losing Jimmy for a fifth time??”

6.      In the case of post-hayride pandemonium, use chaperones to corral children into a smaller space.  Under no circumstances should you let them discover the rubber duck racing station.  You will not make that mistake twice. 

7.      Ignore the desire to yell at the overly concerned parents who stop to use hand sanitizer every time a child touches a woodchip or blade of grass.  Do, however, request that children refrain from shoving their entire hands into bowls of pig feed from which pigs are currently eating.

8.      Play it cool when the goats escape.  Even when one pulls out a clump of your hair, maintain your composure and causally force or lure the reluctant goats back home.  Do not let the goats get the best of you.  Do not let them see the fear in your eyes.

9.      Do not cut across the hill to the pony ring if any other group is heading that way too.  Pony ring breaches of etiquette can burn coworker bridges in an instant.

10.  Never go directly into the kitten barn without first traveling through the goat family area and the silo room. You will irrevocably damage the delicate balance of the farm should you stray from the expected path.

11.  Do not climb into the calf enclosure without being able to easily and gracefully remove yourself once you’ve done what you needed to.

12.  The small animal building is a time vortex.  Set a strict 6 minute policy and keep to it.  Get in and get out. 

13.  When the llamas are feeling especially saucy during your tour, casually point to a cloud or a goat or a bug or anything to keep childrens’ questions and parents’ giggles under control.

14.  When a child from another group sneaks under the fence and begins to admire the giant draft horse from inches away, stay calm and get the kid the hell out of there with intense urgency. Lawsuits are frowned upon here. 

15.   When taking your group to the hand washing trough before lunch, forgo paper towels altogether.  Convince the children that air drying is a part of “farm life”.

16.  Do not break into tears when your group of 60 people requests their third twenty minute bathroom stop in 2 hours.

17.  When twelve kids ask to hold your hands, let them.  Even when half of them have to cling to your arms and start stepping on your heels. If they love you, they are slightly more likely to listen to your facts about turkeys. 

18.  When children and adults alike start complaining of the 90 degree heat, calmly remind them that you and the animals are hot as well, and that you will all survive. [and that no, the drinking fountain on the opposite side of the farm is not convenient]

19.  And at the end of the tour, when you’ve passed the pigs and the geese and the peacocks and have finally arrived back at the exit, wait patiently as they take another half hour to load up the bus and drive away.  Wave jovially as the bus pulls out of the gravel parking lot.  You’ve done it.

20.  Go home and sleep.  Tomorrow might not be so easy. 

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