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Nov. 27, 2020 | Friday
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Pigs and chickens and goats, oh my

NOTL urban barnyard hosts private tours to see farm's nearly 500 animals

 

 

Two people, nearly 500 barnyard animals and a whole lot of love. 

Randy Lakeit and Lizzie Salkauskis are a Niagara-on-the-Lake couple who run tours of their barnyard, which is home to 14 different kinds of animals.  

The farm sells fresh eggs as well as garlic, and other fruits and vegetables as they come into season. 

Last September, the couple purchased a 15-acre farm at 68 Niagara St. near Rye Street. It was previously known as the Garlic Glen.

Barnyard tours are operated by Lakeit and Salkauskis daily by appointment or for walk-up groups. Admission is $6 for children and $10 for adults. 

With COVID-19 protocols, groups all receive private tours. “We don’t mix any groups,” Lakeit said. 

“If you come as a group, your group of course came in a car together so as long as we keep our distance from them, it’s OK.” 

“We have on our sign, private tours,” he said, “meaning that only their group would be together.” 

Mask use during tours is optional. “They’re welcome to wear their masks if they want. It’s always appreciated,” Lakeit said. 

“We also have them put their money in a bucket, and if they need change, we have clean money that has been out of circulation since before COVID, to give them for change.” 

“Most of it is in open air, only just the two rooms in the barn,” Lakeit said. 

“And it’s always supervised,” Salkauskis said. 

The barnyard tours started in June and initially attracted about 20 to 30 tours per week, according to Lakeit. 

"On Canada Day, we had some posters printed up now with all the list of animals and picture of animals on it,” he said. “She went and put a few around town and then right away that day we had four tours.” 

The couple said the barnyard tours have seen a lot of local support. 

“It’s actually been more locals driving by,” he said. “We’ve got signs out around town.” 

“When they see '400 animals' (they think) I’ve never seen animals there, other than chickens.” 

“And the neighbours have been really supportive, like they buy the eggs and they’re always saying how appreciative they are that we’re doing this,” Salkauskis said. 

“Usually people are amazed and as soon as we go out in the back by the fancy chickens, then show them the pigs, roosters, alpacas and the goats, they say, 'Oh, well it’s really nice you’ve got a lot of animals here' and we say well there’s still two more rooms to show,” Lakeit said. 

Although the farm has grown to have nearly 500 animals, things started small. 

“I had my horse, a few chickens and some guinea hens that I already bought off Kijiji to make sure we had them,” Lakeit said.  

“Almost all the baby animals we have here have been hatched from our duck eggs, our goose eggs, our guinea hen eggs, our chicken eggs,” he said. 

“Everything else we just looked on Kijiji, and as things came up and I’d say, ‘Hey Lizzie, this sounds neat, here’s a four-horned ram, an endangered species.’”  

“There’s hundreds of animals for sale there,” he said. 

Lakeit said there are plans to continue expanding thanks to the size of the farm. 

“We’ll probably be building a new pole barn,” Lake it said. “Something long and narrow, so the people can stay in the shade and see the animals, even on the hot days, and they won’t have to rush.” 

“We do plan on getting more animals and different kinds of animals,” Lakeit said. 

“With the chickens and stuff it’s good to keep them in individual pens. The purebred ones that are just for eggs, so you can keep them pure, otherwise they breed different varieties and stuff.” 

Lakeit wants people in the community to know, “They should all come out.” 

On visitor told them, “I just realized this is the first time I’m seeing an animal up close, like a cow or a chicken,” Salkauskis said. 

“Every group seems to be fun and most of the people in general are coming because they are animal lovers,” Lakeit said. 

“They’re looking to come and see animals and enjoy them, so it’s nice to see other people enjoy them, too.” 

“I guess we’ve touched each other so deeply that it seems to have spilled over onto the farm with all the animals and it just spills onto the people that come here,” Salkauskis said. “I don’t know how to say it, it’s just love.” 

On the farm the couple has something new happening every day.

“Something every day is either being born, or something starting to lay eggs that wasn’t,” Lakeit said. “It’s always changing every day.” 

“And we’re both doing it together and everything, even though Randy does 99 per cent of the actual stuff,” Salkauskis said. 

“I couldn’t do it all without Lizzie,” Lakeit said. 

“Plus, Lizzie hasn’t been around animals as much as I have, being an animal guy all my life,” Lakeit said. “I’ve been a dog breeder for 26 years.” 

“So, everything is so exciting to her and she gets so excited to help drive me.” 

The couple plans to get married at the end of the summer. They'll celebrate with a big party on the farm with friends and family once it is safe to do so. 

To get in touch for farm tours, call 289-969-7232.

 

This story has been updated to reflect the change in pricing.

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