Behind the Parks: Meet Dave at Slate Run Living Historical Farm

Dave Trotter
Historical Farmer, Slate Run Living Historical Farm

Dave with Bob, one of the Farm’s Percheron horses. Photo, Kobe Collins

I’m from North Baltimore, a small village in northwest Ohio, close to Findlay.

Years of Service
I started my career with Metro Parks in August 2000, as an Interpretive Aide here at Slate Run Living Historical Farm. I was promoted to the position of Historical Farmer in March this year.

What I do at Metro Parks
As a living historical farm, our purpose is educational. We teach visitors and school groups about farming life in this area of Ohio in the 1880s. We teach by doing. And what we do, we do as it would have been done in the 19th century. As well as program development and teaching, I perform numerous farming tasks, such as blacksmithing, woodworking, broommaking, sheep shearing, farming the land, and restoring historic farming equipment. I had worked at Roscoe Village for five years before joining Metro Parks, so I had developed a good historic skills set there, which has been greatly developed in my time here.

What I love most about my job
Above everything, I enjoy working with the horses. Currently we have four workhorses at the farm. They’re all the same breed, Percherons, but they have very different personalities. I appreciate all the hard work they do. Marcus, our old guy, is slow and steady, and always hungry. He works well with Bob, who’s nearly 11. Bob is never in a hurry to get to business, but he can be talked into working hard. He and Marcus seem to enjoy being teamed together. Judy and Prince are half brother and sister. They share the same father and also seem to enjoy working together.
—–The horses usually work in pairs. They’re the power behind most of our heavy machinery. They pull plows and harrows, spread manure on the fields, mow hay, cut wheat and power our threshing machine. I’m with them all the time, using the horse harness straps to guide them from behind the machines. Each horse weighs about 1,800 pounds, so it’s important to pay attention all the time while driving them. Keeping them walking in a straight line or turning together in harmony is very important, for everyone’s safety.

Dave sows seeds at one of the Farm’s fields, riding the cultivator, pulled by two of the Percheron horses. Photo, Kobe Collins

My favorite Metro Parks activity
I like running the trails. I’ve run marathons in the past, and I still run 5Ks. I enjoy running the hilly trails here at Slate Run. Sometimes I run at Chestnut Ridge or Pickerington Ponds on my way home, or try the flat trails at Blacklick Woods. These days my runs are usually only about 3 miles. I’d like to give a big shout out of appreciation to our staff who maintain our trails in winter. They’re always safe and secure to run on, even after bad weather.

My favorite Metro Parks story that includes a positive visitor interaction
We have a lot of regular visitors, who bring kids and grandkids. So many of them say that they lived on a farm or spent a lot of time on a farm when they were kids. I like it when they tell me how glad they are that we’re here, to teach their kids and grandkids what life had been like for them in their own childhoods. When school groups come here, especially the younger kids, I look forward to what I like to call the “light bulb moment.” It always happens. I ask the kids if they like chicken nuggets and where they think chicken nuggets come from. The kids have just walked past the chicken enclosures on the path to the farm and I remind them of that. That’s when the light bulb comes on. We teach that the meat we eat is the muscle of an animal and that we should acknowledge the animal and their sacrifice.

Something to share about creating a positive experience for our visitors
If it’s safe to do so, I sometime invite people to participate in what I’m doing, such as milking the cows. Or, if I’m resting the horses on a busy work day for them, I’ll ask visitors if they would like to stroke them. They’re little things in themselves, but they can mean a whole lot to people and can help to make their day.

If I could go anywhere in the world and time and money were not a concern…
I went to Ireland when I was 16, to Dublin and Waterford. It was beautiful. We didn’t get to go the the west coast. I’ve read about the west coast of Ireland, seen photos of it, and I’d really like to to see it for myself. The cliffs and ocean look to be stunning.

Life news to share
I have two sons and my youngest just turned 18. He lives at home with us. We had a meal and cake at home to celebrate, before he went out partying!

Fun facts about me and my family
1. My wife and I both love books. We have about 40 bookcases at home. My wife has degrees in English and history. I have a history degree too, from OSU, although I also studied mechanical engineering at the University of Cincinnati.
2. We have two huskies at home. One of them is 14 years old, while the other is only about 5 or 6. They weigh about 80 pounds. Until very recently, we dog-sitted a great pyrenees for about five months. The pyrenees weighed in at about 150 pounds and was a handful, at times, especially for our elder huskie.
3. I learned to love cooking before I got married. I didn’t marry till I was 30, so I had a long bacherlorhood and did a lot of cooking. I make pizza every week, usually with sausage and pepperoncini, which are greek banana peppers. I’ll also happily spend an entire day making lasagne from scratch.

Thor (top) and Appollo – Dave’s huskies.

My favorite food and dessert
A steak and cheese sandwich, with peppers and onions on a hoagie roll, is as good as it gets. For dessert, it could be anything with chocolate. Or an apple pie. I like to make my own apple pie.

My favorite entertainment
I like working on home improvement projects, especially involving woodworking. I’ve enjoyed watching Marvel movies with my son, and of course there’s all my books. I’d say my favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas. It’s a very long read, well over a thousand pages, but it’s a great adventure story.

If I had just 60 seconds to share why I love working at Metro Parks, I’d say…
We are lucky enough to work at a place where people love to come on their days off.

Dave Trotter was talking to Communications Coordinator, Virginia Gordon

2 thoughts on “Behind the Parks: Meet Dave at Slate Run Living Historical Farm

  1. Awesome park system. I have always loved coming to slate run farm, reminds me of my grandparents farm. Making crackers in the kitchen. Carring water petting the calf or chucking Tomatoes for the chickens to eat. Always great to bring scout groups. Thank you!!

  2. Thank you for sharing yourr love of life, the environment, and your Metro Parks.

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