Summer is a wonderful time to take a trip to a dairy farm. My family did just that by taking the Farmland Fun Tour at Verdant View Farm in Paradise, PA. Located smack dab in the middle of Amish Country, Verdant View Farm offers visitors a chance to see what happens on a working dairy farm.
We met up with Patrick and Elise Fleming who give the Farmland Fun tours at Verdant View. It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday in July. Our tour was at 3:00 PM and it began right on time. Patrick introduced himself, shared the history of the farm, and then took us to meet our first animal friends of the day, the rabbits.
Another farm friend showed up around this time. We all got to meet Scooby, the farm dog. Scooby is a four year old Border Collie born whoon the 4th of July. Everyone fell in love with him. We learned all about his important jobs on the farm like keeping the goats where they belong and protecting the chickens from foxes.
Next Patrick took us on a tour of the barn where there was a special surprise – a hay maze for the children (unfortunately I was too tall to go through). The barn, built in 1923, contains no nails and all the beams were cut from just one tree. The kids learned why barns have two stories and got to feed some cows in the process.
Then Patrick handed out some corn and we went to feed the goats. We met two-day-old goat twins named Gilbert and Sullivan plus quite a few others that we were able to feed. As we were visiting the goats, the steam train from the Strasburg Rail Road puffed by. The railroad runs through the farm, so it is easy to get a good look at the train while you are visiting.
It was hard to leave the cute baby goats, but it was time to take the tractor-driven wagon ride around the farm (the wagon is wheelchair accessible so everyone can take part in the tour). We joined the folks in Elisa’s “Farmer’s Apprentice” tour as Patrick drove us to the highest point of the farm to see the “Verdant View.” Though Verdant View is not an Amish farm, it has Amish neighbors and some of the farm land is rented out to Amish farmers for growing tobacco. Patrick gave us an overview of the farm’s crops and answered questions about dairy farming.
Their Farmer’s Apprentice Program is wonderful. If your family wants more hands-on learning, you can sign up for one of four apprenticeships: cheese making, animal care, backyard chickens, and homemade ice cream. Our family did the Farmland Fun tour and not the Farmer’s Apprentice, so I can’t give lots of details about it, but I can tell you that the Apprentice group we saw got to feed the baby cows with a bottle!
After the wagon ride we met the chickens and ducks. The kids loved the chickens and even got to pick them up, but eventually we had to leave all those clucking hens to visit the heart of the dairy operation – the cows! Our kids were fascinated to see the cows up close and feed them. There was some “cow-licking” of hands, but since cows don’t have upper teeth there is no way for them to bite. (Don’t worry, there are hand washing stations at the farm so everyone can clean up real good before going home.)Our kids had so much fun feeding the cows that they forgot that Patrick said they could milk one. Down into the milking parlor we went. Anyone who wanted to try their hand at milking a cow could. Afterward, we went to see the baby calves.
After our farm tour, my daughter decided that she wanted to hold a rabbit (she was too scared the first time), my son wanted to swing from the large tree in the barnyard, and I decided to snap pictures of the Strasburg steam train as it passed by. We all washed our hands before leaving and said goodbye to Patrick and Scooby. The kids said their favorite part of the day was feeding the cows and the goats.
In addition to offering the Farmland Fun tours, Verdant View Farm is also a Bed and Breakfast. They’ve given people overnight experiences since 1967. If your family needs a quiet place to stay while visiting Amish country or Strasburg which is VERY close, this would be the place to do it. Lots of room options and a full breakfast every day except Sunday.
My family had a great time taking the Farmland Fun tour at Verdant View Farm and meeting Scooby and all his friends. We absolutely would visit again, but next time we’d like to do one of the Farmer’s Apprentice programs.
To learn more, visit www.farmlandfun.com.