Times are very strange indeed, but life goes on, or in the case of local farms, life begins as normal. Here is our round up of some of the region’s farms who would normally open their gates for lambing season this time of year but have decided to go virtual.
I sat scrolling through last year’s posts on Eastlife Magazine working out which ones to schedule and was saddened to see our annual post for Farm Open Days. I knew only too well none of the farms would be open for many weeks, maybe months to come. Imagine my delight when I then went onto social media to show our support and saw one farm after the other posting videos, short clips, photos and answering children’s questions about farm life. I just knew we had to share. So here is our ever-growing list of virtual farms and I’ve even snuck a zoo in too for added feel-good vibes.
Farmer Tom – Cambridgeshire
Have the kids got questions about farms, farm life and where do animals come from? Never fear, ask Farmer Tom! We’ll let Tom do the talking here;
“We’ve been running #FarmerTime on our farm for the past 3 years. We’re paired with a class about 200 miles away and once a fortnight we have a video call with them. We tell them about life on the farm, and they ask questions related to what they’ve been learning at school about food, about farming, and the countryside, and lots more!
Now schools are closed the questions are left unanswered, so please send your small person’s question by video or in text on the comments with the tag #AskFarmerTom and I’ll do my best to answer them.”
so for more daily info on Farmer Tom and his virtual farms comings and going head over to his social media pages.
Jimmy’s ‘Virtual’ Farm – Suffolk
Pannington Hall Lane, Ipswich, Suffolk. IP9 2AR
We’re sure you recognise this Celebrity Farmer; Jimmy Doherty had a vision to use traditional free-range meat production to rear British rare breeds, and so The Essex Pig company was born. The farm is now host to over 300 rare breed pigs, a Working Farm, Wildlife Park, Adventure Play, Shops, Gardens, Restaurant, a Farm Shop and Butchery.
Despite these difficult times Jimmy’s Farm is keeping spirits up and has created a downloadable activity book for children and Jimmy himself is currently posting educational and fun video’s daily of the farm and animal antics on his popular Instagram account.
Herrings Green Activity Farm – North Bedfordshire
Cotton End Road, Wilstead, Bedfordshire, MK45 3DT
One of the UK’s largest collections of birds of prey with of over 200 birds on display, Herrings Green Activity Farm is a family run business caring for all its birds and animals around the clock. This time of year, the farm would normally be bustling with energy and visitors getting up close to the birds including American Bald Eagles and African Fish Eagle, Falcons, Hawks and Owls. The farm also have other slightly unusual animals including a raccoon dog and a skunk and the biggest rabbits I’ve ever seen!
They do need support at this difficult time sadly, as they are not a charity and solely rely on entrance fees, they have set up a Just Giving Page should anyone wish to support them.
The Suffolk Punch Trust – Suffolk
Woodbridge Walk, Hollesley, Suffolk IP12 3JR
For the equine lovers out there, we highly recommend The Suffolk Punch Trust. Did you know that The Suffolk Punch horse is the oldest English breed of working horse? The trust was founded to help protect the critically endangered Suffolk horse through its established breeding programme, raising public awareness and training a new generation of professionals to work with these iconic heavy horses. But wait! Despite the lockdown, not only do you get to see all the resident horses getting up to antics on the trusts Instagram page (including a budding romance between a horse and a cow). You also get to see the ewes, lambs, goats , kids and even the odd turkey makes an appearance.
Snettisham Park – Norfolk
Birches Road, Snettisham, Norfolk, PE31 7NG
This stunning park is a 329 acre working farm. In normal circumstances a trip could involve many exciting adventures from seeing lambs being born to a spectacular 45-minute deer safari where you see the magnificent red deer herd. To share the joys of new life with their loyal and new fans, Snettisham Park have been uploading videos of their lambs and ewes with the odd photo of the sheep dogs catching a well-earned rest in the sun.
Mead Open Farm – South Bedfordshire
Stanbridge Road, Billington, Bedfordshire, LU7 9JH
The farm spans 30 acres and is home to farmyard animals large and small to include sheep, cows, pigs, as well as goats, rabbits and ponies. It is also home to some more unusual large animals such as alpacas and a reindeer.
The farm has always been keen to educate and offers children the opportunity to see, learn about and interact with farm animals through activities such as bottle-feeding lambs, hand-feeding sheep and goats, grooming ponies and stroking rabbits and guinea pigs.
Given the current circumstances this cannot happen, but rest assured the staff are still making sure its life as normal on the farm and the animals are getting plenty of attention and keeping their humans busy as usual!
Old MacDonald ‘Virtual’ Farm – Essex
Weald Road, Brentwood, Essex, CM14 5AY
Old MacDonald Farms is renowned for being one of the most popular farms in Essex for a family day out. With its host of animals, colour adventure play areas and spring babies bouncing round the paddock. Once again Easter is normally the perfect time to visit, but fear not Old MacDonald plans to keep you posted via their Instagram account on farm updates and oodles of cuteness over the next few weeks as the baby animals and Meerkats get up to their daily business.
For more information on local events, places to visit and things to do (yes, even virtual farms) why not check out our Facebook Page or Groups dedicated to your county Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk. Those dog lovers out there would be barking mad not to join our Doglife Group and vegan’s, you’ll be pleased we have one dedicated to you too.