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Farm life: One family’s desire to go agrarian

By Katherine Wartell

Growing up in Missouri with three older sisters, six-year-old Ben Costner is used to not being able to go on the adventures he’d like. But this weekend, he has the sole attention of his grandparents, who took him to the Fall Festival on the Farm held at Zeandale’s Lazy T Ranch.

Deana and David Costner have been staying in the guest house of the ranch with Ben since Thursday. This weekend is the first time they’ve taken Ben on a trip without his sisters, per his request. A lot of the time, Deana said, Ben ends up participating in more “girly” activities.

fall farm experience doesn’t fit that definition.

On Friday night, Ben helped the Wilsons, who own Lazy T Ranch, feed the ranch’s goats and llamas. “(Ben) was delighted to think he was helping with the chores,” Deana said.

At the festival Saturday, Ben enjoyed playing in the corn bin – in which a small slide is set into a tub filled with corn – roping a fake steer, and attempting to slingshot a crabapple into a picture of the University of Kansas’ Jayhawk mascot. “I wish I had his energy,” David said.

It’s the first time the three have been to Manhattan, where they have also spent time visiting attractions including the U.S. Cavalry Museum at Fort Riley and the Flint Hills Discovery Center.

Spread across the field adjacent to the Wilsons’ red brick house are various festival attractions: a maze made from hay bales, an area for pony rides, a pavilion that houses pumpkins and other gourds for purchase, a bounce house and a corner where ranch-goers can play laser tag, amidst hay bales, at night.

Visitors can also interact with llamas, goats, rabbits, chickens and a cow at the ranch’s petting zoo. And, of course, there is a hay-rack ride. On Saturday, ranch co-owner Ron Wilson guided visitors on an approximately 45 minute tour that passes through a prairie meadow and stops at the top of a hill where viewers can get a look at the Kansas River Valley.

On Friday night, there was a bit of excitement when fire trucks were called to an electrical fire in a red barn. The barn, called the “Cowboy Café,” houses restrooms for the site. The fire did not affect other attractions at the ranch.

The festival is open during the month of October, with hours from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. There is an admission fee of $5 per person for people older than two years.

On Sunday, the ranch’s guesthouse will be free, but Deana said, the Costners plan to stop at the Friendship House in Wamego for breakfast.

And though they plan to be back in Missouri in the early afternoon, the Costners intend to also see part of the Oregon Trail with Ben on Sunday.

“Our life has been blessed,” Deana said.









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