Monday, 3 April 2017

Leaping lambs and chirpy chicks at Wroxham Barns

April, Spring is here. 
Daffodils, lambs and April showers, what images does Spring conjure up for you?
The clocks have gone forward, the days are getting longer and warmer and the signs of Spring are all around us. 

We decided to extend Emily's birthday celebrations by taking the girls on a trip to Wroxham Barns

Wroxham Barns opened back in 1983 and has established itself as a well-loved local attraction. 
It is situated in the heart of  North Norfolk, just 10 miles from Norwich. There is ample free parking available.
Visitors can browse the quaint shopping area and use the outdoor play area for free, next to this is the mini golf and fun fair. 

There are also several eateries and craft shops, including "Made by Me" which offers the opportunity for visitors to try out their creative skills. The many shops also include - Sew Creative, The Norfolk Cider Shop, The Scrummy Pig and Coastal Stained Glass to name just a few.

The main attraction for us is the Junior Farm. 

This is open daily (not including Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day and weekdays throughout January) from 10am-5pm. Tickets cost £6.50 per person with under 2's entering for free. (Some concession prices apply.) They also offer an annual pass.

We purchased some bags of animal feed as we entered the Junior Farm, priced as just 55p per bag, there is more than ample feed in each bag for the family to all have a go at feeding the animals.
As we entered the girls spotted that they were running a "Chick Hunt" so we headed over to the activity tent to sign up for this! 
A nice simple hunt which just required you to follow clues around the farm and count how many chicks you found.
At the end the children received a small prize - some bubbles or a small chocolate Easter treat.

The farm offers a range of animal interaction and feeding times throughout the day. The girls were eager to feed the lambs, hold the chicks and guinea pigs and to feed the Pygmy Goats. We made sure we checked out the times before we went so we could plan our visit and there was plenty of signs around the farm reminding visitors of the times. There's plenty of hand washing facilities around and you are encouraged to wash your hands each time you have had an animal encounter.

Our first stop was to feed the very excitable goats! These caused much hilarity as they clambered greedily for the food. Emily thought it was hilarious, whereas Mollie was a bit nervous to start with but she warmed up to it after a while.

Then we headed through to see the sheep and they trotted along the fence beside the girls as they ran up and down the walkway. Very friendly and placid animals, who certainly loved having a good back scratch against the fences! 

Just over from these we spotted a little lamb and its mother in their own pen, the lamb was leaping everywhere and drew quite a crowd. He had been born on Mother's Day.

We then took a look at the hens and turkeys. 

By the hen house you can open up the hutch and see whether they have laid any eggs, you can then purchase these for 20p, the farm operates an honesty policy and you just pay on the way out.

By now it was time to groom the ponies. The farm hands tethered the ponies to the fence and children were taken in, no more than 2 per pony and given instructions on how to groom. 

Then it was time to go and see the small animals - the chicks, guinea pigs and rabbits. We went over to the barn, this was edged with hay bale seating and the animal runs along one side. It got quite busy in here but the handlers made sure that all the children got to have a turn at holding the animals. Again instructions on how to handle then were given and parents were asked to support their children. 

I think this part was the girls favourite, it completely made their day!

After here we went to see the pigs and what a lovely smell they made! 
In the middle pigsty we got to see a new mummy pig with her cluster of piglets! They were enjoying a good feed when we saw them.

Now it was lamb feeding time. Again the barn had the pens down one side and a "bench" of hay bales along the other side, leaving a walkway either side of the hay bales so the parents could stand behind their children to help.

These lambs are all orphaned lambs, but it doesn't mean they have all lost their mother. Some sheep have multiple births but only two teats so cannot feed them all, so Wroxham Barns takes them in to rear.

The girls spent time petting the sleepy lambs for a while whilst we waited. Then the farm hands arrived with the bottles and the lambs went crazy! They certainly recognised feeding time!

The girls shared a feeding bottle and its a good job - they are very strong and greedy animals!
We then finished off looking at the other animals, using the last of the feed we had purchased and stopping off to see the cows again now they were a bit more active.

We caught the Pygmy Goat feeding as we headed out of the farm. These were having their vegetables for the day and as there was only our girls and one other family, all the children got lots of veggie strips to feed to the goats. 

Then it was time to leave. A quick stop in the fudge shop first - Yummy!

We had a fabulous time at Wroxham Barns. Be sure to pay them a visit this year. Lamb feeding runs through till June. 
You can also catch the Foolhardy Circus if you visit over the Easter break. This is at an additional cost of £6 per person, under 2's are free.
For more information check out the Wroxham Barns website or find them on Facebook.

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