Spring is coming, and the baby animals are appearing at local farms.
Check out this 2 week old calf (born on Valentines’ Day) at Farrell-McWhirter. He was shorter than my 3 year old! (Sorry that it’s not a great picture… my son was really ready to go have snack, so we only got a really quick look at the calf… but wow he was cute!)
At any time of year, toddlers love outings to meet farm animals. Lots of children’s books, games, and videos feature farm animals, so kids tend to be familiar with them, and get very excited when they can recognize and name the “real thing.” Seeing and hearing (and smelling) the animals in person make the idea much more real. At farm parks, you can check out chickens, sheep, bunnies, cows, pigs, and goats. Some times you’ll get an opportunity to see fresh eggs in the coop, or see a cow or goat being milked. This is a great outing for a child who has just learned to answer all those vital questions like “What does a cow say?”
For my readers in the Seattle area… here are some free outings:
Farrell McWhirter Park in Redmond. They’ve got a small pot-bellied pig and a really big pig, bunnies, chickens, 2 goats, a calf and horses. (You generally can’t pet or feed the animals.) They do offer farm classes and pony rides. Farrell McWhirter is also home to Tiny Treks and the Outdoor Preschool, both are great nature-based programs for children. Check out the Redmond Parks guide for more information. There are great hiking trails, streams, swings, and tire swings too.
Kelsey Creek Park in Bellevue. They’ve got sheep, pigs, goats, horses, bunnies, chickens, ducks, and geese. (Again, they’re on view, but this is not a petting zoo.) They also offer horseback riding and farm classes, including a great program for toddlers called Little Farmers. Their playground is great for little ones, as long as they’re past the stage where they’ll try to eat the bark on the ground.
Farms with a Fee:
Fox Hollow Farm in Issaquah. $10 per person. I have not been there, but hear that it’s lovely… They have bunnies, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, peacocks, macaws, sheep, cows, goats, pigs, llamas, mini-horses, and horses. They also have rope swings, pony rides, tractors to drive, inflatables, play cottages, and you-pick fruits and vegetables. (Some activities have additional fees.) Opens for spring / summer in early April. Closed in fall and winter, except for Halloween and Christmas themed events.
Remlinger Farms in Carnation. Not yet open for the season. Approximately $14 per person. I believe they have pigs, goats, and rabbits. They also have some amusement park style rides.
Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Adults $18.75 in summer, May to September; $12.75 in the off-season. Kids are $11.75 / 8.75. Under two years is free. By the south entrance, there’s the Family Farm area, which includes a petting zoo where kids can meet goats up close. There’s pigs, goats, sheep, cows, bunnies, chickens, and a donkey. Plus, of course, lots of more exotic animals.
When visiting farm parks: remember bring a change of clothes and shoes for your child! They can get pretty muddy in any of these places.