Allow me to set the scene. It’s the weekend, you’ve got a day off work, or perhaps if you’re still a student, you have the whole summer to fill with activity. You don’t feel like going shopping, the changeable Northern Ireland weather is just about nice enough to warrant doing something outdoors, but not quite nice enough for beach days, ice creams at Portrush or long walks in the country. What do you do with your day that you haven’t done 1,000, 000 times before? This was exactly the dilemma my friend and I were faced with. Our solution? An adventure to Streamvale Open Farm.
I won’t lie, we were a little dubious about going. Neither of us had younger siblings, neighbours, or friends with children to use as an excuse to visit, and we did wonder if we’d be the oldest there without kids, especially as it was around the end of term and school trip time, but we were very pleasantly surprised. The staff on reception smiled at our inhibited and slightly embarrassed expressions as we paid for “two big kids” admission fees, and told us that we weren’t the first ‘adults’ of the day to pass through the gates. We were lucky to have picked a quiet day – a school trip was leaving as we were entering, and although there seemed to be a lot of cars in the car park, we only came across three families, and a young couple around our own age.
So enough about that – onto the main event of teeny tiny chicks, bottle feeding lambs and the fluffiest bunnies you ever did see. We spent a large chunk of our day in the barn, where I was in my element with my camera, photographing the goats, petting the donkeys and squealing at the thirteen (yes I counted) piglets snuggling into their mummy. Here, I also managed to befriend the farm dog, Chase, who happily ran along beside me all day long.
Next up were the chicks, and once I was convinced by a member of staff that: yes, it was ok to pick them up; and no, I wouldn’t break them, I was in my element. Obviously I had to hold every one of the chicks at least once, it’s only fair.
After this we were convinced by one of the staff to join them on a nature walk, and although we weren’t keen, we tagged along regardless, hoping for some potential photo opportunities – and it’s safe to say we got them. The sound of food and a couple of whistles was all it took for Streamvale’s majestic stag, Prince Edmund to emerge from the hills and I was in photography bliss.
Last but not least, we returned to the farm and discovered heaven – a small cabin, with a pen containing 5 six-week old spaniel puppies, who had arrived the day before our visit. I am not even exaggerating when I say that we spent the best part of an hour and a half in that room, cuddling and playing and taking EVEN MORE photos.
Our final stop was an ice-cream from the cafe, which is produced on site, before a happy drive home. So, if you’re ever planning a visit, please be assured that Streamvale Farm is NOT just for kids. We had a ball, we didn’t feel remotely out of place, and it looked very like all of the adults were having more fun than their kids, so get down for a visit next time you’re bored – cuddling baby chicks, bunnies and puppies is good for the soul!