By Cate Pedersen, Editor
Looking for some fun, interactive farm visits for you and your family? There are many to choose in BC, offering different experiences for young and old.
More and more people want to understand life on the farm. Parents and their children benefit from visiting growers and farmers, and learning about their animals and the foods they produce. There are a few special places that invite visitors and provide educational opportunities so those who live in more urban centres can enjoy a closer relationship with nature and farm life.
Children especially enjoy petting farms–and some adults too! Experiences like these can foster a life-long interest in agriculture and animal welfare, and build respect for the business of farming.
Our Family Farm Adventure
I had an opportunity to visit Party Ponies & Farm Ventures on a recent trip to Roberts Creek this summer. It is situated just off the Sunshine Coast Highway, 15 minutes north of Gibsons and the Langdale ferry terminal.
Our group consisted of my teenage children and their friends, and I wondered if they might be a little old to enjoy the adventure. That concern disappeared immediately as we were welcomed warmly by the owner, Bette-lyn Eger, and her teapot pig, Tetley. We felt at home right away as Tetley accepted our scratches and Bette-lyn our compliments. “I’m not sure that Tetley is truly a teapot pig as he is much larger than we anticipated,” laughed Bette-Lyn. She explained that pigs are one of the most intelligent creatures on earth and Tetley proved it by waiting patiently at the bottom of the ramp for his sweet potato treat while we toured the barn where some of the other animals lived.
Bette-lyn shared how she and her husband, Albert, opened their hobby farm to visitors after their children left for university. They purchased the property in 1994 and began raising Andalusians, winning many awards. One of their mares, Mystique’s Lindeza, is a dressage champion; and her brother Levante was born in the middle of a birthday party! The farm is so tranquil, clean and full of joyful creatures, it is no wonder that Linda, the mama horse, felt relaxed and comfortable enough to allow the children and families at the party view her beautiful new foal.
Lindeza and the other horses nuzzled us, accepting grain from our hands and thanked us with kisses and back scratches. Lindeza showed off how she could ‘talk’ and bow, and we admired the many ribbons, awards and photographs of her family decorating the walls of the barn.
Dinner & Nap Time
We were able to hand feed all of the animals on the farm, and they included:
- Sheldon the African goose
- Huey and Aflac, the Muscovy ducks
- Hens and roosters
- Skittles the goat
- Eeyore and Huilo the miniature donkeys
- Dodger the Llama
Even the peacocks—after proudly displaying their psychedelic tails—sidled up to us to peck a cracker from our fingers.
We were all amazed at Tundra the white sheepdog who sat with her back to us, staring at the fences as if on a time out. “She’s guarding us and the animals,” said Bette-lyn. “There are coyotes and bears in the area that would sneak into the yard if she weren’t watching.” Tundra peeked over her shoulder now and then to make sure we were all behaving. There was a moment when Skittles butted Tetley to try and beat him to a piece of potato and Tundra was there in a flash to dart between them and make sure they were both okay. She reprimanded Tetley with a gentle nudge of her nose and returned to her post. Another disagreement between the hens brought Tundra in a cloud of dust to separate the sparring hens, and peace reigned once more.
Our favourite part of the tour was the Critter Pen where we sat on a mat with baby blankets over our laps while Bette-lyn passed around the baby creatures. I’ve never held a tiny rabbit, barely bigger than my thumb, and have it fall asleep nestled on my lap while I snuggled a sunshine yellow baby peacock. Now I have and I can tell you it was one of the most relaxing and special moments I’ve ever experienced. I could have curled up with the critters and snoozed myself.
Our adventure ended with gifts of peacock feathers and fresh laid eggs which we fried up for breakfast the following morning–delicious!
The farm works in a wonderful synchronicity, the trust between the animals and the people who work with them was obvious. If you and your family are planning a trip to the beautiful Sunshine Coast and want to visit Bette-lyn, Albert and their family of animals, or you want to book a birthday party, check out their website.
Other Family Farm Adventures to explore:
Bold Point Farmstay on Quadra Island, minutes from ocean, lakes and forests, offers accommodations for longer stays.
Circle Farm Tour provides information and maps to agri-tourism destinations in the Fraser Valley which are usually seasonal. The tour is self-guided and is different for each region: (Langley, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Agassiz + Harrison Mills, Maple Ridge + Pitt Meadows)
Birchwood Dairy or Bakerview Eco-Dairy, Maan Farms Country Experience in Abbotsford, BC.
What is your favourite agri-tour destination?