Today is Mother’s Day, and rather than have the boys spend money on things I don’t need, I wanted us to spend time together as a family. Mrs. Dowsons Farm had invited us to visit and review our experience, so that’s where we went.
We haven’t been to Mrs. Dowsons before. It’s about 40 minutes from home for us so it’s never really been on the radar until now. We arrived at around 11.30am, which was an hour after the farm opened. That meant to queues to get in which is always a bonus. As you arrive at Mrs. Dowsons Farm, you park in the ample sized car park and head towards the bell tents. These house picnic tables and are outside the actual entrance, but once you have paid admission you are free to leave and return throughout the day.
We paid admission inside the shop/tea room, though a short time later admissions were being done at an outside desk. Either way, the staff are helpful and courteous so they will happily direct you to where you need to pay.
Admission is £4.95 per person for everyone over the age of 2. Tickets can be bought on site or online, and the price is the same. Wristbands are supplied on entry. We weren’t given a map or guide when we arrived, but I saw other people with them so I went in search of one. These are really handy and available on the admission desk so do make sure you pick one up.
Another thing we missed out on was a children’s activity type pamphlet which children could stamp at various points around the farm. This is a really good way of making sure you see all that’s on offer at Mrs. Dowsons but I didn’t see those until just before we left.
The fact that I missed the stamp books was probably down to the fact that we hurried straight up the one of the barns where a cow was about to give birth. This time of year is great for educational opportunities like this. The boys watched as the farmer helped the cow along with her birth, and within a few minutes she was cleaning up her calf. This was the first of two calves born today at Mrs. Dowsons, so they’re really very busy at the moment!
The calving took precedence over the talks and the other scheduled activities today, which was completely understandable and no problem to any of the visitors as far as I could tell. The farmers were fantastic – they came around the farm telling people of the imminent calving and walked visitors up to the sheds as a group, so people who wanted to watch didn’t miss out. We didn’t see any other talks today but we I didn’t feel for a second like we’d missed out. All the talks still went ahead, we were just a bit restricted by our over tired toddler.
The play area at Mrs. Dowsons was great for all three boys. There’s a wooden adventure playground which was suitable for all of them to use to their own abilities, and there were lots of Little Tikes cars and John Deere tractors for them to drive. This turned out to be the most difficult part of my day actually because the toddler did not, under any circumstances, want to leave the play area. Uh-oh!
As well as the play and driving areas, Mrs. Dowsons has a sand pit! Squidge and I went to Butlin’s last week and spent time on the beach, so he insisted that he take off his shoes and socks to play in the sand. He’s never really been the kind of kid who likes wearing shoes though, really.
He is, however, the kind of kid who LOVES tractors. His toy box is filled with them – particularly John Deere’s. So when he spotted this tractor I thought his little heart would burst!
Mrs. Dowsons do offer tractor rides to visitors when circumstances allow, but today the land is still too wet so they weren’t running. I guess that’s a good enough reason to return in drier weather though.
Around the farm are various animals, grazing in paddocks or keeping warm inside the sheds. We met Llama, lambs and baby chicks as well as a bunny who looked exactly like our very own rabbit, Bugs.
There are hand wash stations all over Mrs. Dowsons farm as well as boot dip mats and signage to encourage people to wash their hands at each station point. There are plenty of staff on hand to help out or answer questions and no question is too silly. The farm staff gave us honest answers to our questions, even when they were to do with sending animals to slaughter or separating calves from mothers. I think it’s really important for children to fully understand the different viewpoints of farming, and of the meat and dairy industries. If they know where their food comes from, they can make informed decisions about which meats to buy – or maybe even not to buy meat at all when they grow up.
One part of the farm not many people seemed to visit was the Nature Pond area. Here there is a bird hide, a little wigwam den, periscopes and quite a few information boards. We were the only people in there at the time and it was nice to be able to take 5 minutes out, appreciate our environment and chat about the wildlife that could be there throughout the year. We talked about bees and how their number are in such decline. This prompted an idea – we’ll be doing a topic on bees during April and looking in more depth about why their numbers are dwindling and how we can help. Every conversation (well, almost) with children is an opportunity to learn and build knowledge (unless it’s Fortnite related and then I’m out, sorry kids!).
Our last port of call before leaving had to be the cafe for home made ice-cream. Mrs. Dowsons makes 22 flavours of it and the kids couldn’t decide for ages what they wanted! Eventually they chose a mixture. I think there was ginger, mint choc chip, chunky chocolate and another flavour I can’t quite remember. Prices are very reasonable too – 3 ice-creams, in fancy cones, one double scoop, cost £7.00. I paid £3.00 for one scoop of ice-cream in a tub last weekend!
Thank you so much to Mrs. Dowsons Farm for inviting us. We have had a wonderful Mother’s Day and have learned a lot too.
The farm also hosts birthday parties and educational visits, the latter of which I might look into for our home ed friends actually. To plan your own visit to the farm, you can find all the necessary details on their website here.
Have you visited Mrs. Dowsons? Or do you have a similar farm near to you?
Do tell me which ones are your favourites – they might well make it onto our Summer bucket list!