Last week we traveled down to Durham, England where Darren was presenting a paper at a conference. We decided to make it a family vacation together. For the first few days, the kids and I were on our own all day, while Darren attended the conference.
On our first day, we woke up to foggy, overcast weather. We dropped Darren off at the University and headed out into the country to find the Hall Hill Farm for a day of fun together. By the time we arrived, the sun was out in full, having burned away all the fog and clouds. We had the most glorious weather all day!
Our first stop was the baby chicks. These cute little babies were running around under the warm light. Joshua was so excited to hold this little chick. It peeped and cuddled up to him as he was sitting on his towel. Abigail was completely freaked out by her little chick, though, because it kept trying to climb on her. She did enjoy petting Joshua's chick, as long as it stayed safely on his lap.
The next barn housed the guinea pigs and rabbits. Because both kids were a little nervous, the woman suggested they hold the guinea pigs because they sit still. Joshua was thrilled to pet this soft, little animal. Abigail was much more hesitant, but then she was asked if she wanted to brush the guinea pig. This was perfect for her!
We had bought three little bags of animal food at the gift shop when we first entered. I wasn't sure the kids would actually be brave enough to feed any of the animals. After I demonstrated how to feed the goats and sheep, Joshua quickly became a pro at feeding the animals. Abigail was much more hesitant, but was happy to feed them along with me, her little hand on my hand as we fed them.
But the best part of the feeding was holding the bottle for the lambs. We learned that a mother sheep can only feed two babies. If she has more three or more, she leaves the runt alone. These little lambs are bottle fed by the farmer until they are old enough to join the flock.
The highlight of the day was the donkey rides. They are normally only for age three and up, but they let Abigail take a ride because she was so excited. However, when she finally got near the donkey (after waiting in line for half an hour), she was totally freaked out. I suggested that she just sit up on the donkey for a minute and that I would walk with her and the donkey. As soon as the donkey started walking, her face burst into a huge smile. She loved the donkey ride and wanted to go again.
After Abigail's ride, Joshua boarded the donkey excitedly. He was also so thrilled with the donkey ride. Abigail and I walked around the field with him as he rode around.
I was so amazed at how much Joshua has grown in the last year. There was a little farm in New Jersey we use to visit regularly. He loved looking at the animals, but would never touch them or go near them. Now here he was riding a donkey, feeding sheep and goats, and holding chicks and guinea pigs. My little boy has grown to be so brave and curious.
We missed the milking demonstration, but the kids enjoyed the demonstration cow. The cow was filled with water, and they had the pleasure of practicing their milking skills. It was smart of them to design the cow so that kids could milk it with ease.
While we waited for our real tractor ride, the kids enjoyed the play tractors set up a big barn. There was a fun "race track" set up with hay bails. Abigail enjoyed the little tractors, while Joshua rode a bigger one with pedals.
Finally it was our turn on the tractor ride. We all sat in the big trailer pulled by the tractor. We rode around the fields and looked at all the big animals -- highland cattle, Shetland sheep, llamas, alpacas, donkeys, and many more.
We had a wonderful time at the farm! We were there for more than half the day and could probably have stayed several more hours. This farm has everything; if you are ever in the Durham area, it is well worth the visit.
I have posted over 30 pictures of the farm on Facebook: Hall Hill Farm - Sept 2010.
Joshua Oliver Sumner Born December 5, 2005 9:32 p.m.
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