Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Old MacDonald had a farm...

As you may have noticed from my recent posts, we've been on kind of a farm bender in the last few months. In fact, since the start of this year, we've visited Happy Hollow (a number of times), Ardenwood, Hidden Villa, Deer Hollow, the SF Zoo (particularly, its petting zoo), and Emma Prusch Farm Park. We've seen and petted any number of adorable baby animals, watched squirrels and roosters attack our stroller, and ourselves been attacked by an angry goose. We've also spent Toddler X's college fund (many times over) on handfuls of those creepy little green pellets that a goat will gladly bite your hand off to consume.

Case in point...

We're kind of becoming pros at this petting zoo thing, and not surprisingly one of the most frequent questions I get -- both from my friends, and in messages from my SV Toddler readers -- is which farm/zoo is the best for a family to visit. While there are so many variables that determine whether a particular farm is right for a particular family (Do you want to hike to it, or drive right up? Do you want it to feel spread out and natural, or more compact and clustered? Do you want it to be part of a larger excursion, or is the farm itself your destination?), two of the most basic considerations are (i) which animals are there, and (ii) how can you interact with them.

So here's your guide to the denizens of our local farms and petting zoos. If you find yourself tempted to ask, "And on that farm, do they have a..." -- well, now you have an easy way to find out.  

How are they housed?
Can you pet/interact with them?
Can you feed them?

Goats, Sheep, Cows, Chickens, Turkeys, Bunnies, Peacocks. Pigeons
Goats, sheep and bunnies are in pens, cows and other sheep are in pasture, fowl are free-roaming.
You can often pet the goats and sheep through the bars of the pen. The birds are free-roaming, so you can get as close as they’ll let you.
No, but there are feedings at 3 pm that you can watch and maybe participate in.
Los Altos
Bunnies, Pigs
In pens (ducks have a little pond in theirs) and small pasture (cows).
Not really, except for special Spring Farm Tour days.
San Jose
Pot-bellied pigs,
Turkeys, sheep.
Sometimes large farm animals in the 4H barn.
Goats, pigs and bunnies are in pens in the Small Animal Area. Birds are free-roaming. Turkeys have their own housing near the big barn, and sheep are out in the pasture. Cows, hogs and other livestock can sometimes be found in 4H barn.
You can pet goats through bars of their pen in the Small Animal Area, and all the birds are free-roaming, so you can get as close as they’ll let you. You can’t pet the animals in the 4H barn or the sheep in the pasture.
Yes, they sell goat food and bird food for $.25 a handful in the Small Animal Area. You can feed the goats through the bars of the pen.
San Jose
Miniature horse, some type of sheep or cow in the farm area
(and, of course, all the other animals at the zoo)
Goats are in large petting area; other farm animals are in pens.
Yes. You can obviously pet the goats in the petting area (and brush them with the provided brushes), and the other farm animals you can touch through the bars of the pens.
Yes. They sell food for $.25 a handful both inside the goat area and over by the miniature horse.
Los Altos Hills
(and sometimes wild deer!)
Sheep, goats and pigs are in pens. Chicken roam free in a huge yard that you can enter.
It’s easy to pet the sheep through the bars of their pen, and sometimes the goats too. The chickens are free-roaming, so you can get as close as they let you.
SF Zoo, San Francisco
Petting area has goats, sheep, chickens, ducks (wild mallards).
And of course there’s the rest of the zoo (which includes free-roaming peacocks).
Goats, sheep and chickens are in large yard for petting. Be sure to check out the hatchery building to see the incubating eggs and baby chicks (through a window).
Yes! The goats and sheep are very gentle and used to children. There are brushes in bins so that the kids can help groom the animals.
Yes. A handful of food costs $.25.

Happy toddling!

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