whisperinghopefarmOne of the things that we truly get to benefit from being parents in the Charlotte Metropolitan area is the ability to be in a bustling urban environment at any moment and in less than thirty minutes be in the quiet secluded country. Any time we drive on a highway and my daughter sees a barn or a horse out the car window she has to exclaim and crook her neck to see it better.  I mean, what do you expect? She’s spent her entire life singing about Old MacDonald and the Farmer in the Dell. I can’t really blame her for wanting to see if it all pans out to be true.  So I told myself that I should take my girls to visit a farm.

We’ve been to a pick-your-own farm before but I’m thinking the girls should see a working farm with animals and stuff. After a day searching for local area farms on the computer, Facebook and Google started showing me strategically placed and weirdly specific ads related to farms. There were many petting zoos and farm CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) and then I saw it. Facebook suggested that I attend the event “Come-Milk-a-Cow Day” at Whispering Hope Farm. Ding! Ding! Ding! That sounds just like the farm experience I was looking for.

milk-a-cow-day

Whispering Hope Farm, located in Gastonia, is only about a 30-minute drive from Charlotte and full of options and opportunities.  There is a playground, the chance to hold several different breeds of bunnies, plenty of patting the baby goats and lambs, holding baby chicks and piglets, horse rides and of course the main event of milking a cow.

My girls truly enjoyed this experience and I have to admit I was surprised at how amused I was to be standing so close to a cow!  We learned so much about the animals and the workings of a real farm.  Sonya the owner taught us so much and shared the many more opportunities to learn at the farm by participating in the summer Farm camp or taking one of the homesteading classes. If anything, we all walked away from that farm with a much deeper appreciation for farmers and farm-life.

Whispering Hope Farm is just one option for visiting a functioning farm, there are others not too far away where you can also learn more about animals and the farming lifestyle. Details below:

Whispering Hope Farm
Location: Gastonia, NC (~30 minutes from Charlotte)
Cost: Come-Milk-a-Cow Day Event $6 CASH per person (6 months and under free) and that includes a horse ride for the children! Homesteading classes $20 per person.
Experience:What sets Whispering Hope Farm apart from other farms is that they are very hands on with their animals. They are a small farm with mostly smaller sized animals that are non intimidating for small children. The animals are used to being touched and held since they have been loved on by thousands of people! Young and old alike enjoy coming in our Milk House and trying their hand at milking!

Happy Hills Alpaca Farm
Location: Monroe, NC (~45 minutes from Charlotte)
Cost: Children are just $7.00 and adults are $10.00 This includes hay to feed them, the tour and demonstrations.
Experience: Farm is open for visitors by appointment. We are generally open on Tues, Wed, Thurs and Saturdays, but please call ahead to schedule a time. You will get a chance to feed the alpacas and our three pet sheep, Gracie, Darby & Clover. We will also have spinning demonstrations and you can learn about why we raise alpacas.

Homeland Creamery
Location: Julian, NC (~ 1 hour 30 from Charlotte)
Cost: $7 + tax per person (ages 2 years and under are free)
Experience: Tours offered by reservation only. Tours are geared for Preschool age and up, but we will gladly customize the tour to the appropriate age level. All children must be accompanied by an adult

Your tour (about 1-1/2 hours) will be divided into several stages:

  • Fun filled hayride (25-30 min). You will see the beautiful view of our family farm & crops, heifers and pregnant cows and  llama & donkeys
  • Hand milk a“simulated” cow, Miss Betty. The group will learn about how milk gets from the cow to the grocery store.
  • Visit our newborn calves. Help bottle feed one of our baby calves.
  • View the milking parlor. When available see where the cows are milked by machines.
  • Sample our premium made ice cream. Some say that’s the best part of the tour!!

BirdBrain Ostrich Ranch
Location: Sherrill’s Ford, NC (~45 minutes from Charlotte)
Cost: $7 per person; Group Rates: Available
Experience: The Ostrich ranch is an operational farm. There are many items of memorabilia from ostrich farms of the legendary 1900’s on display.  You will be able to visit the birds up close and feed them their dinosaur food.  Guaranteed to be an experience for all ages. Hours of Operation:   Saturday 9am-2pm, Sunday by Appt, All Day Monday     Tuesday – Friday by appointment only

If you know of any more working farms in the area that allow the public to visit, tour and learn more about agriculture, animals and homesteading please share in the comments!