We were invited to the Agriculture museum to see what the animals get up to at night.
At the appointed time, Josie, Daniel, Elizabeth, Brendan and I arrived at the farm. The kids got to pick out a flashlight and glowstick and played while we waited for stragglers to arrive. The flashlights are awesome and we got to take them home (doubly awesome). Unfortunately, we can't buy more at the museum, which is very sad.
The kids madly squeezed their flashlights to charge them. Then the flashlights were locked in order to avoid scaring the animals and irritating the adults. Brendan was bemused by all the tweeting.
First stop: the dairy barn. The lights were a little dimmer but otherwise we were surprised to find the night barn rather similar to the day barn. Some of the cows were actually sleeping with heads tucked back on their tummies but since they only actually sleep two to three hours all day most of the cows were either dozing, chewing their cud or having a bit of a drink. We got to see the Millie the cow in operation for the first time. Secretly I always thought the fiberglass statue of a cow was a little lame given all the live models but it turns out there's a whole demonstration complete with (fake?) milk flowing to a replica milking room. The museum has a portable milker and we all got to have our thumbs milked. Elizabeth and Daddy declined the experience. Josie kept her thumb in place until the staff got to the part where they mention that leaving your thumb too long will make it purple and a little sore (because the blood doesn't have anywhere to go). We got to brush the calves. One of my favourite parts of the tour was how much time we got with the animals, in a less crowded atmosphere. Elizabeth takes time to warm up to "scary" things like touching cows, so we really appreciated that she had the opportunity to get over her initial panic and try again. Elizabeth heard that the cows become Mommy cows when they are two years old, so she is now convinced (CONVINCED) that she has a baby in her tummy too. "Suspect it's going to come out pretty soon", she says.
Then we headed off to see what the chickens were up to. Our group was very surprised to see how they behave at night. If you've never seen a sleeping chicken, clearly you need to watch for the next flashlight tour...
One of the bunnies came out for a little bedtime patting. Elizabeth was delighted. We're running a "we-need-a-pet-bunny" campaign right now, but Daddy isn't too keen...
Next stop - the horse and cattle barn. There was a little more patting, this time of horse and donkey. Josie's favourite animal is the horse so she was in her element. So enthusiastic but the staff luckily took it in stride. Elizabeth was happy to watch from a distance. "I already got a wagon ride", she said. "So I don't need to pat Ted."
Whenever we visit the farm there is always potential for embarrassment given that the animals give birth in public and some of the other activities (ahem) are also public. I tend to view these as natural opportunities to talk about the facts of life but I confess I opted to ignore the giggling over the size of the bull's "equipment".
In the next barn, the ram currently hanging out with the sheep has a mini-paint bucket attached that marks the back of each sheep once impregnated. No awkward questions there, to my surprise.
I even managed to keep a straight face when Josie dubbed one of the goats "Pebbles".
We were too busy petting Oreo the stud bunny to see the sleeping pigs; by the time we meandered into the pig barn they were all awake and wondering about these strange after hours visitors.
Too soon it was time to go for pumpkin muffins, hot chocolate and a bedtime story about the farm animals going to sleep.
We really enjoyed the tour and are looking forward to the next one.