Down on the Farm – Doonies, Aberdeen

Number 5 in the Tots2Travel Down on the Farm series takes us to Doonies Farm in Aberdeen which opened its doors for the summer season on 2 April 2017.

Doonies Rare Breeds Farm covers 134 acres. As a member of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust it’s one of only two farms in Scotland to be awarded “ Approved Conservation Farm Park Status’ which means they aim to help preserve rare and endangered native farm animals, work closely with the RBST to increase the population of these endangered animal and educate visitors about farming, with a big slice of fun thrown in.

 

We arrived on a bright sunny day and our tots were promptly welcomed by Farmer Alice and collected their buckets of veg to feed the animals. Such a responsible role is the delight of children, and we saw many children with puffed up chests walking around the farm proudly carrying their prized carrots and cabbage with swagger – it was very endearing to watch.

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Pregnant Ewes – keep the noise down.

The first stop was a pen of pregnant sheep. A sign advised us all to keep our voices relatively low as the children got to grips with ‘flat hand, no, I said a flat hand!” instructions of how to feed animals with teeth. As lambs played in the fields beyond it was somehow quite touching to think these sheep were days away from giving birth to their own.

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Feeding a Tamworth Pig

From Welsh  ‘Dainty Girl’ to a huge red Tamworth, we got very close to huge pigs. More carrots and cabbage were aimed at the general direction of their mouths. I reached out to pat ‘Dainty’ and the hair on her back is really hard, bristly and tough. I was learning things too. I thought she would be softer, so stroking pigs will not become a past-time.

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Feeding the adult Eriskay ponies – flat hand, flat!!

In the field with the Greyface Dartmoor Sheep were four little lambs, one girl, Pippy, and three boys, Jack, Borris and Victor. They were quite shy and couldn’t be tempted by the sticky paws of toddlers clutching cabbage. Oxford Down Sheep, with their curious black markings, were in a nearby field. Apparently there are under 3000 of these sheep in Britain so it was lovely to see them in the grass with their new lambs.

My son’s favourite animal to feed were the ponies. He happily gave up most of his treasured bucket for them. We then trotted off in the direction of Niall, Doonies’ two year old Eriskay pony who is too young and frisky to be allowed near the public so Mr Child had to gaze adoringly from a distance. We learnt that Eriskay ponies are rarer than pandas, which is pretty startling.

We then spent time at the playground, beautifully situated on the hilltop with the sea glistening in the background. The site is a little exposed so do wrap up warm, our boys were happy in their fleeces but we were lucky with the weather.

Our last stop was the Farm Shop. Basically it’s a locked freezer room and you have to request access, but many people don’t even know it’s there. All the Longhorn beef sold here is born and reared on the farm. It hangs for 21 days. As the animals are grass fed the meat is said to be low in fat overall, and has higher levels of ‘friendly fats’ such as Omeg 3. It’s also rich in Vitamin E. We headed home with one fillet steak, a rump steak and a pack of sausages. Whilst seeing cute animals may put some people off buying meat I liked the fact that I could buy it having seen how the animals live, talk to the farmer in person and begin to show my kids where their food comes from.

Lastly, when my son asked if we could meet the farmer, and I told he already had, he was confused as ALL his picture books portray farmers as male. My husband and I are responsible for the books in our  house but we’re pretty hard pushed to find one about gender neutral farming so I’m delighted that Doonies taught Mr Boy a wee lesson in a nice way, so let’s hear it for role model Farmer Alice!

Opening Hours – April 2nd – September 30th 10.00am – 4.00pm (Last entry 3.00pm) *Closed Mondays and Tuesdays expect for School holidays* October 1st – October 26th 10.00am – 3.00pm. Officially closed for winter October 27th.

Admission Charges – Family Ticket (2 adults and a maximum of 3 children) £ 10.00, Adults- £4.00, Children- £ 2.50, Under 2’s free entry, Buckets of feed- £1.00.

If you like what you read then don’t miss a post, enter your email address in the ‘Follow’ box then click ‘Follow’ or join the conversation on Facebooktwitterpinterest and instagram at Tots2Travel. For any queries or opportunities please email tots2travel@hotmail.com. Tots2Travel received complimentary entry to Doonies for review purposes, and the eldest tot has been talking about it for days. All images copyright of Tots2Travel.

 

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16 Comments

  1. Reply

    Agness of Fit Travelling

    April 7, 2017

    I loved the pictures! I seems like an amazing experience!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      April 9, 2017

      Grand day out.

  2. Reply

    Jane the Raincity Librarian

    April 25, 2017

    I loved your comment on gender assumptions – to be honest, whenever I think of a farmer I think of a man, too – all those years of singing “Old Macdonald” when I was growing up! What a great experience for little ones to see where food comes from, and to gain an appreciation for the hard working men AND women who make a commitment to treating their animals with such care.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      April 25, 2017

      I know what you mean. I think I’m particularly sensitive about it raising two boys. Ideally I want them to encourage the men and women in their lives to be what they want to be.

  3. Reply

    WanderMum

    April 25, 2017

    Big YAY to Farmer Alice! Great to debunk gender presumptions. My friend is a surgeon and many of her patients think she’s the nurse….we’ll get there, gradually! Anyway! What a great farm Doonies looks and your son did really well with the feeding and keeping a ‘flat hand’ It’s such a delight seeing them interact with animals and get so close to them. Thanks for linking #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      April 27, 2017

      I questioned my own parenting when he assumed the farmer had to be a bloke – I blame Old MacDonald.

      • Reply

        WanderMum

        April 27, 2017

        It does make you think!

  4. Reply

    Cultural Wednesday

    April 26, 2017

    Hurrah for Farmer Alice! Love the buckets of carrots #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      April 27, 2017

      They were so colourful. Also fancied tucking in myself!

  5. Reply

    Wherejogoes

    April 26, 2017

    If there is one thing kids love when there are animals around it’s being able to feed them! I’d love to grab a bucket myself – what fun! #CityTripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      April 27, 2017

      I agree, but I think wrenching a food bucket off a child would go down that well 🙂

      • Reply

        Wherejogoes

        April 27, 2017

        Why do they always want to eat the food themselves too? Stale bread always goes down well with mine!

        • Reply

          tots2travel

          April 27, 2017

          Too funny!

  6. Reply

    Anna

    April 26, 2017

    I love this! It’s so beneficial for kids to interact with animals. And the more they can do, the better (feeding on their own, etc). What a great outing! We’ll have to find a farm near us to try out. Our local zoo has a petting area where you can feed farm animals, but I don’t think you can beat being on an actual farm 🙂

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      April 27, 2017

      It did add to the experience to buy meat at the end of it. It’s real! No separation between animals and food production.

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