Kristy has been egging (pun intended) to do a farm stay with the kids for as long as I can remember, so after Bunyip Springs scored a hearty recommendation from our wonderful back-neighbours, we booked ourselves into the cottage and headed out for a weekend of farmyard fun with Mia and Pa. It’s a bit of a hike to get there (about three hours drive time), so we arrived “late” (relative to children and bed time) on Friday night (a few weeks ago now).
When we left, the temperature in Brisbane was hovering around 20 degrees, with a forecast set to be around the same for the whole weekend. As such, I optimistically packed clothes for summer-ish type of weather, plus a light jacket – you know, “just in case”. I was not prepared for how cold it was when we arrived – the temperature was single digits! Thankfully, Mia and Pa had arrived before us and had the house all heated up, so the only cold that we had to deal with was ferrying our bags from the car to the house.
Our farmyard duties started bright and early the next morning. At 7:30 AM, we (and the two other families staying at the farm) reported to the Alpaca pen, where farmers Kathy and Reg enlisted us for the morning feed and walk. I’m not sure if that’s the first time I’ve seen an Alpaca or not, but it’s certainly the first time I’ve seen one up close. They are not a loving, graceful animal. Farmer Reg put it best by saying, “The best you can hope for is that they’ll tolerate you after some time”. Some of the alpacas seemed to have taken a particular like (or dislike?) to one of the guests; each time he got close, they’d spit all over him. It was pretty disgusting. Still, Oscar managed to rise above and was a champion at feeding them.
Next up came the chickens, and there were a lot of them (with a fair few ducks and geese mixed in). The kids waited at one end of the chicken run, then Farmer Kathy opened up the cage and they ran for their food like stampeding bulls. What a dust storm!
They were very friendly though; some of them would jump on your arm if you were close enough, and the kids did pretty well catching them and picking them up for a cuddle. Leo was very fond of them, and was very happy to pose with one for a photo!
Our next job was to milk the cows. This is something I’m sure I’ve never done before, so I was glad to have a chance to give it a whirl. There were a few different breeds of cows on the farm, and it was interesting to see how much the technique for milking them varied between the breeds. The only breed I remember was the jersey cow, and it was the easiest to milk.
Last of all came the horses. After giving them a quick feed, each of the kids lined up for a ride around the paddock on a friendly horse named Morgan. “Ride” being a generous way of describing them sitting bare-back and being led by Farmer Kathy, but you know… tomato, tomato. Now, it’s well known that I’m not the biggest fan of horses, but the kids certainly enjoyed their ride. Leo had the chance to observe lots of the other kids take their turn, so he knew roughly what to expect when his turn came around. Clearly things were’t moving fast enough for him though, because as soon as he was sitting on top of the horse, he said “It not going!”.
After our morning duties had finished, we were free to enjoy the day, so logically we headed out in search of coffee. About half-an-hour of driving led us to Poppies on the hill, which promised “Great Coffee”, no less. I was skeptical, but will admit that I was pleasantly surprised; the coffee was great, though the real prize was the Carrot & Bunya Nut cake. Delicious!
Hanging around the farm was very pleasant indeed; the air was fresh, there was no traffic noise, and the scenery was lovely. Animals happily wandered past our door; at any point through the day you could look out a window and see cows grazing nearby, one of the farm’s three dogs checking up on us, or even one of the chooks clucking along. We convinced Leo that one of the particularly fat chicken’s name was “Dinner”, which made for some entertaining conversation. “Is that Dinner? Where is Dinner going? Is Dinner coming inside?”
After gathering some firewood and enjoying lunch, we reported for our afternoon duties, which turned out to be much the same as what we’d done in the morning. First, we had to round up the Alpacas and give them another feed. Next, we fed the chickens, rounded them up into the coup, then stole their eggs like we were little green pigs. Finally, we finished off by giving the cows another milking before signing off for the day.
I’m sure that what we did barely compares to what farmers actually have to do every day, but it was certainly enough to give us a taste of what farm life would be like. Best of all for the kids, it gives them the chance to see how animals are raised, and that the food they eat (or prefer not to eat, as the case happens to be for us) actually comes from somewhere before it gets to a supermarket. Oscar and Leo were probably a bit too young to appreciate that last point, so perhaps another visit will be required when they’re older. I suppose that our main aim for going was to “get away to the country”, to spend time with Mia and Pa, to have a taste of farm life, and to make some memories for the boys, and I think we achieved that quite nicely.