Visitors book a session at the farm, as the farmers currently only take indiviudal groups at a time, and head off for a one-to-one experience. When we arrived, the Forkin family (mum Mandy, dad Nick and daughter Ellen) bounded out to meet us and we were soon in an enclosure with a herd of alpaca. All of us had scoops, to feed the animals pellets, as we chatted about these hairy wee beasts.
Next, the farmers fed the Mangalitza pigs, and once they animals were sated, we were allowed into the enclosure to brush their coats. The concentration was high as the tots styled their porcine models. Because it’s a one to one experience you can ask any questions you want, and I was as interested in the people as the animals. The Forkins arrived in Orkney planning to live a ‘River Cottage’ style lifestyle, rearing their animals, knowing they’d had a wonderful life, before consuming the meat, but the family found they got too attached. No animals have been sent to slaughter so, unlike most farm experiences, this site could potentially work well for vegetarian and vegan visitors. Every animal you meet will live a rich, long life in Deerness.
In terms of actually getting up close and personal with the animals, Skate Rumple is the best experience we’ve had. We bottle-fed tiny poddy (orphaned) lambs that the Forkins were fostering from other local farmers, the boys met goats, held ducklings, fed chickens, the tots delicately retrieved eggs from the coop, and we were all introduced to the famous North Ronaldsay sheep which live on a diet of seaweed. This was a particular highlight for me. Not very rock n roll but I find these sheep kinda curious.
After the farm session, and vigorous scrubbing of tiny paws, we were taken to a barn for sumptuous morning tea and cake. Mandy Forkin is a very good baker, and there were treats galore on the table, from marshmallow skewers to slabs of lemon drizzle cake. The plates and tumblers for the boys were cute and colourful, as good as you’d have at home. The tea was beautifully laid out, tasted fantastic and the rustic setting made it a bit quirky. Outside the barn was a ‘real life’ boat and toys. The dads took the kids out to play pirates and sail the seven seas, whilst the mums squirrelled away more cake, it began to feel more like a playdate than your typical tourist/host experience.
After a coffee and sugar rush we said goodbye to the Forkins, goodbye to the animals, and I can only recommend this experience to other any animal-loving families visiting Orkney.
Our Story – We sailed from Aberdeen to Kirkwall with Northlink Ferries taking our car with us. We stayed at the Ayre Hotel Apartments, Kirkwall which offer self-catering facilities, and on the day of the Skate Rumple visit drove directly to the farm, 20 mins easy drive from Kirkwall. For prices and booking click here.
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 Facebook. For any queries or opportunities please email email@example.com. We experienced a complimentary farm session at Skate Rumple for review purposes. All images copyright of Tots2Travel.