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Traveling to a European Christmas village filled with traditional baked treats, handmade goodies and Santa himself is not in the cards for most of us.

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Belle the Farm Elf doesn’t just sit on a shelf. Edelweiss Farms puts her to work.

Clad in muck boots and overalls, Belle spends each day of the Christmas countdown doing a different duty around the farm. Spreading manure, cleaning the barn and bedding calf pens are just a few of the scenes John and Bethany Borer post on their farm’s Facebook page throughout the month of December.

For the past three years, the Borers have made it their mission to engage consumers in their multi-site dairy in Freedom, New York, by combining entertaining images with important educational messages.

“We wanted something we could show consumers day-to-day what happens on the farm,” Bethany says. “We figured it would catch consumers’ attention and teach them.”

John agrees, “We try to show them pictures and short videos of what we do – planting corn, tilling ground, spreading manure – and the education component behind those things. The elf gives us another avenue to do that.”

The online response has been more than the Borers expected, with likes, shares and views validating their efforts. In fact, the most popular video, posted Dec. 13, 2019, has been viewed more than 33,000 times. What could catch so much attention? Belle the Elf riding the “flush water rapids” on an inflatable boat.

The creativity doesn’t stop there. Belle has helped the vet ultrasound and even taken the cow brush for a spin. She’s no stranger to pitching pens, but she still finds time to relax and catch up on quality reading material.

Bethany relies on her cell phone, a doll stand and the Photoshop app to bring Belle’s adventures to life. She sees each opportunity to share an image or video as a chance to communicate important messages around animal care and husbandry.

“I love being able to show how much we care for our animals,” Bethany said. “There’s so much negativity and false information on social media. I love showing that we love our cows.”

Edelwiess Farms’ social media following includes many parents of children who have been on their farm tours, as well as people living within a 8-kilometre radius of the farm. Each year, they reach 200 to 300 neighbours with a holiday gift of milk coupons accompanied by a sticker to “like” the farm on Facebook.

John believes their social media presence is an important effort to reach consumers with positive messages and to make them feel like they are a part of the story. “Inviting Belle into the barn gives [our followers] a sense of being there. It’s a bird’s-eye view into what’s really going on.”

After a busy 25 days, Bethany says Belle is “pretty smelly,” but the Borers are already thinking about the shenanigans she will get herself into next year and how they can continue to reach consumers in an informative yet entertaining way.

“There was a lot of talk about Santa being jealous, of all the fun Belle was having on the farm during the winter months,” the Borers say. “So Santa took a vacation to Edelweiss Farms during the spring, summer and fall months, to see what happens around the farm. Belle, will also be popping in here and there! We can’t wait for our countdown to Christmas this year!” end mark

Elf riding the flush water

Today, we found Belle riding the flush water rapids. At this barn, we use recycled water to clean the manure out of the alleys. It is flushed down into a gutter and goes through a four-stage process to separate the solids out of the water. The water is stored in a tank and then we can reuse it to keep flushing the barn. Just another way farmers recycle!

elf cleaning the pens

Yesterday, we found Belle weighing calves, so they could move on to the heifer barn. Today, we found her cleaning out those pens. We will get rid of all the old bedding, wash up all the pens, get new bedding and wait for the next batch of babies! Hopefully her plastic pitchfork doesn’t break. 😉

Elf at the beach

Today, we find Belle at the “beach” relaxing on the sand, reading about the best beaches in Progressive Dairy. The choice of bedding is a crucial decision every farmer has to make. They need to decide on bedding based on cow housing, cost and what is best for providing the cow with support and comfort. Our farm beds with 3 different beddings; sand, sawdust and recycled manure solids. Belle probably won’t be getting much sun at this beach.

Elf needed a message

I guess Belle needed a massage after all the snow shoveling she has done this morning. These cow brushes do just that! They help provide much-deserved stress relief for our cows. The brushes spin on contact, moving with the cow to massage the area she most wants relief. Spa date, anyone?


Photos courtesy of Edelweiss Farms.

Visit Edelweiss Farms’ Facebook page, EdelweissFarms, to see all of Belle the Farm Elf’s adventures.

Peggy Coffeen
  • Peggy Coffeen

  • Editor
  • Progressive Dairy
  • Email Peggy Coffeen

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