Farm Fresh

T and Gobbles

I’ve decided–for the summer at least–to plan 1 field trip per week. It can be local or within a few hours drive, free or at least not ludicrously expensive. So if you’re looking for cheapish things to do in northeast FL now that school’s out, watch this space!

A week ago we went to see the new animatronic dinosaur exhibit “Dinosaurs Unearthed” at the Museum of Science and History (MOSH) right here in Jacksonville and took in two planetarium shows while there. We learned about several new types of dinosaurs we’d never even heard of before as well as how the solar system was formed.

By the end of the week, I was scratching my head trying to come up with the next field trip idea when T said he’d like to visit a working farm. I checked out the web site of the local farm from which we order our meats and most of our produce, Black Hog Farm, but it looks like their tours don’t start up again until October. T is not a patient boy, so I continued my search and came across NaVera Farms.

NaVera Farms is a small, privately owned teaching farm in Callahan, FL. It was barely an hour’s drive. We arrived there this past Sunday in time for the 1:00pm tour. It turned out to be just the two of us that day, so we had the entire farm and all the animals on it to ourselves!

Our guide really took his time introducing us to the animals, explaining their function on the farm, their daily lives, and how they’re cared for. We were able to pet chickens, a turkey and Muscovy duck who followed us for most of the tour (Gobbles and Yum Yum, respectively), alpacas, llamas, a retired thoroughbred, mini horses, donkeys, pigs and goats. Lots and lots of goats. The goats are VERY friendly and will love all over you. Do yourself a favor and wear grubby clothes, you will come home covered in goat dust and you will be deliriously happy about it. There was also at least 1 bunny, a cow, and a bull calf, but we weren’t able to pet those.

This alpaca sniffed T for 5 minutes, but threatened to spit if he tried to pet it.
This alpaca sniffed T for 5 minutes, but threatened to spit if he tried to pet it.

I believe we spent a good 10 minutes in a “goat pile” where we were surrounded by at least a dozen goats all demanding that we pet them and scratch their ears. One female was pregnant and we were able to rub her big, taut belly. Two mamas had just had two kids apiece that Friday, so we were able to pet the kids. I was amazed by how soft they are compared to how wiry the adults are.

We learned a lot about how small farms operate and T asked lots of questions. He was particularly fascinated that Gobbles the turkey has a harem of hens who cluck over him. We even witnessed a 3-way orgy/fight between a hen, rooster and duck. I couldn’t make out which it was. It was violent and there was a lot of pecking and quacking and clucking and rear-mounting and feathers flying. Nature in glorious Technicolor!

The tour lasted just over an hour. Cost for the tour is a $14 donation per person and it is worth every single penny for the amount of knowledge, goat cuddles, and hilarity we got for it. T was so enamored of the goats, he wants to start a goat farm. I’ve started researching what it takes to do so not because I’m serious about it, but because I figured it could be a fun research project to teach planning, saving, etc. I asked him if he was planning to help out on the farm and milk the goats. He said, “I’m not touching goat boobs!! That’s gross!!” He believes he should be exempt from farm chores until he’s at least 12.

Kid with kid
Kid with kid

This weekend is a holiday weekend, so we’ll be staying local. We have British friends coming to visit on Sunday, so the field trip will be coming to us! I’m sure T will have all sorts of questions for our guests.  We’ve also been meaning to visit the Florida Museum of Natural History and their butterfly rainforest, so that may happen next week. T has also asked to re-visit Okefenokee Swamp Park to go gator spottin’. Stay tuned for more Floridian (and occasionally Georgian) adventures!

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