Open Farm Sunday at Hardiwick Farm

On Sunday 7th June hundreds of farms opened their doors (or more like gates) and invited everyone and anyone to come and visit a farm, learn more about where your food comes from and have some fun! Completely free of charge!

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I left my wannabe farm dog at home and headed along to Ash’s farm, accompanied by my Mum. Guinness was allowed to come but he would have ended up stealing someone’s lunch or licking a child’s ice-cream when they weren’t looking!

It was a glorious sunny day and the field was already full of cars when we arrived. We were given a warm welcome, handed our free NFU bag with some handouts and a find the Red Tractor Quiz sheet and off we went.

We explored our way past the cow sheds and through the barns, stopping to look at a number of stalls such as the equine vet (who had some scary looking cow dentist equipment) and a guy making butter from fresher-than-fresh-just-milked-that-morning milk!

In the calf pens we found Ash! He was letting a few people in at a time to feed, stroke and brush the calves. The kids were having great fun getting stuck in. It was a sad day when I went to visit Ash a few weeks ago to find all the calves were gone, so it was good to have some back! I do love the calves.

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Two of the tamest cows were also inside with one child at a time being allowed to feed them a biscuit and pet them. Unfortunately Mrs. Bunty (the pet cow of the farm) decided to be a little antisocial, however I did see her let a child that was about the same size as her head give her nose a rub while she was lying down.

Outside on the field we saw some ewes with their tiny little lambs, a maze/caving adventure made out of straw bales, tractors that the kids could sit on and my personal favourite activity, WELLY WANGING! I gave it my all and Chris who was supervising the wanging of the wellies reckoned I’d got the furthest so far that day! However later on as we were sat nearby having lunch I definitely saw some blokes throw it much further than me, oh well.

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At half past the hour, every hour, the farm was inviting people into the parlour to watch the cows be milked. We joined the queue and after a short introduction and H&S spiel from John the farmer we headed into the parlour. I did work experience on a dairy farm when I was 16 (a shocking 8 years ago!!) so it’s been a while since I’ve seen milking, plus Hardiwick’s 20:40 system is a lot different to how we used to milk! They filled one side of the parlour with cows and let the visitors stand in the other side and around the edge. It was great to see the units being put onto each cow and the milk going through. It’s fantastic for kids and adults alike to see where the milk in the supermarkets comes from, and the first step to how it gets there.

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As the day was coming to a close Ash gathered everyone around to demonstrate how they feed the calves with milk. They’d gotten quite sleepy after a busy few hours of being stroked and brushed, but as the generator fired up for the milking machine the noise they made was deafening! Quiet, sleepy calves were suddenly very noisy, hungry calves!

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Before we knew it it was time to go home. We’d seen and done everything except for the stream walk, and unfortunately I didn’t get to sit in the tractor (it would have been a bit mean to push the kids out). What a great fun filled day out in the sunshine, learning about farming and best of all, seeing and stroking cute animals!

It’s so refreshing to see free activities for families to take their children to and throughout the whole day I didn’t hear one unhappy child. On the contrary everyone seemed very excited and thoroughly enjoying themselves. The only thing we paid for throughout the whole day was a chocolate cookie and piece of flapjack for 50p each, which were well worth it.

I would highly recommend everyone to save the date for next year and check out a farm near you.

A fun, cheap and educational day for all ages!

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