Thinking about visiting a farm in the Dallas area? Here are three I've visited several times. (Samuell Farm, Owens Farm, and Heritage Farmstead)
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This is a 340-acre farm located 14 miles east of downtown Dallas. It was donated to the city of Dallas many years ago, but is actually located in the city of Mesquite. They have picnic tables, BBQ grills, large trees, and a small playground with a tall metal slide. All over the grounds you'll find tractors and various farm equipment that kids love to climb on, pretend to drive, or to have their photos taken! During the year they'll host several events here, such as a Civil War reenactment, an Easter Egg Hunt, Dairy Days, etc. I've been here for a company party, a Civil War reenactment weekend, and with preschoolers and their families on several group tours.
I once attended a company Christmas party here with a Texas theme. (Not to mention that the wife of the guy in charge of the party was on the Samuell Farm management board!) It was pretty cold that December night but we were treated to a hot BBQ buffet in one building and we also had a nighttime hay ride and a large bonfire outdoors. (With marshmallows, of course... The kids all loved it!) Samuell Farm does corporate and private parties.
If you're interested in a group tour, for a nominal extra fee you can also arrange in advance for a tour of the barnyard (not too exciting from my experiences there), a hay ride through several miles of their wooded trails (a pretty long ride, I've done it at night and in the daytime. Or does it just SEEM long?!), or candle-dipping. (not recommended for very young children!) They require that you send or bring them a deposit when you make any group reservation.
They have several ponds you can fish in (bring your own equipment) or you may choose to rent horses to go on a trail ride. Many people hold birthday parties here and include horseback riding.
The petting area is a hoot. Psssst! Wanna know what sends the goats and sheep absolutely WILD? Bring a LARGE brown paper bag filled to the brim with DRY (unsalted and unbuttered) air-popped popcorn. (Do NOT bring microwave popcorn for the animals!) We also sometimes stick some old plastic cups in our big popcorn bag so we can scoop out cupfuls and spread it around. That's helpful since the sheep and goats in the petting area here can be VERY aggressive, especially when it comes to popcorn! You can toss a cupful of popcorn a few feet away from you if they begin to get too aggressive! I recommend that you DO NOT leave a small kid alone in this area as the larger animals could run right over them in their quest for food.
A staff member once told me that they don't feed the animals until after morning scheduled tour groups have left so that the critters will be hungry for the snacks that people bring them. Bringing a large popcorn bag means you can share with other families who didn't bring critter snacks and even if you don't share with others, you will NOT have any popcorn left to bring home… these animals can EAT! The dry popcorn is also good for feeding the ducks, geese, turkeys, peacocks, and other creatures you'll find here. The farm has recommended to me in the past to bring dry popcorn, chopped apples, or cut carrots for critter snacks. If you forget to bring your own snacks, you can purchase dry pellet feed from a machine near the petting area. (Although occasionally we've found it empty)
100 East U.S. Highway 80 East, Mesquite, TX
(Exit on Beltline Road and follow the frontage road to the front gate)
Open Monday-Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm in the spring, summer and fall. Call for their winter hours/days. Closed on major holidays and on winter weekends.
Admission: $3.00 for age12 and above, $2.00 for ages 3-11, kids under 3 are free.
Owens Spring Creek Farm
This farm is owned by the 'Owens Sausage' family/company. I've taken preschool groups on outings here and they always enjoy it. It's free to visit and very well-maintained. There aren't tons of animals but it's just the right size for small children to enjoy and not be too overwhelmed. I've only visited here with large groups and for that, you should always call and set up a free tour in advance and they'll provide you with a friendly tour guide.
You can feed the chickens, goats, and sheep if you bring bread, carrots, and crackers. Watch those fingers! There are miniature ponies in a nearby field or in their stalls. They also have a LARGE pot bellied pig in a stall over near the horses. Kids enjoy reading (or hearing) all the names posted outside each animal's stall and some of them can really make them giggle!
Kids under two years old will be excited to see ANY of the animals here, although they might be intimidated by the large Belgian horses! Two and three year olds will enjoy petting the animals in the small petting area. (Bunnies, goats, lambs) See if they can imitate the animal sounds or walk like them.
There's a small 'museum' and many cool artifacts to talk about with older kids. See if they can figure out what some of those items were used for! You'll see items from a farm kitchen, a blacksmith shop, various home antiques, and old sausage-making equipment.
When our Early Childhood PTA takes preschoolers on tours here, the tour guide will bring out one of the miniature horses and all the kids get to pet it & take photos with it. They'll also bring out the pot-bellied pig for petting and one of the gigantic Belgian horses (no petting, too huge and dangerous for small children!) and answer any questions about them. The tour guides have always been knowledgeable and friendly and take their time, not rushing the kids around to be finished with them! Anyone can visit during operating hours for a self-guided tour.
Owens Spring Creek Farm
1403 East Lookout Drive, Richardson, TX (Located 2 miles east U.S. 75)
Self-guided tours daily from 9 am 12 pm and 1 pm to 4 pm; weekends from 9 am to 1 pm.
Heritage Farmstead Museum
This farmstead was built in 1891 and was a working farm until 1972. The original farm was 360 acres but today this four-acre museum includes the restored 14-bedroom Victorian farmhouse, a windmill, a root cellar, garden, farm animals, a smokehouse, blacksmith's shop, and other outbuildings. Heritage Farmstead preserves the history of farm life on the Texas prairie from 1890 to 1920. Rooms in the home are changed around a few times a year to reflect various seasons, events, holidays or activities. Docents in period clothes interpret farm life for visitors.
Heritage Farmstead opened as a museum in the mid-80s, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and is accredited by the American Association of Museums. They have a small gift shop on the premises.
Throughout the year, the museum offers various events such as a bluegrass music evening, a weekend herb festival, Scout days, and more. Private parties can rent the grounds for events, wedding receptions, and birthday parties. Every year the museum offers several children's programs at an average cost of $4-6 a child. The children's programs revolve around various themes, include a tour, and many of them also include an age-appropriate craft to take home.
One program I've arranged a preschool group to receive here is the 'Lazy Farmer' program. The guide reads the kids a book about a lazy farmer who makes his duck do all the chores on the farm. Then the kids go around the farm doing the same chores in the book like feeding the chickens, washing clothes in a washtub, ironing them with an antique iron, corn-grinding, collecting apples from the orchard, working in the garden, and that kind of thing. The kids enjoyed this program but it must be arranged in advance. Other times our organization has visited here and taken part in the wildflower and Johnny Appleseed programs. Some of the programs change or are replaced over time, depending on their popularity.
This is a VERY small farm with just a few animals. (horse, donkey, a couple of pigs and goats, bunnies, and chickens) I think it's not as enjoyable to small kids as the other two farms mentioned above unless they visit it as part of one of the childrens' programs.
Heritage Farmstead Museum
1900 W. 15th Street, Plano, TX
(Corner of 15th and Pitman Drive, one block east of Custer Road)
Call for current guided tour hours.
Admission price is $3.50 adult, $2.50 for kids & seniors (Free admission for Museum members)
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