Spring is finally here— and thank goodness! I love winter and all that comes with it, but given the extremely wet and cold nature of this last one and the fact that I recently spent 12-hours stuck in the snow on Donner Pass, I’m glad warmer weather has arrived. So in the spirit of spring, and in an effort to relieve some of our cabin fever, Natalie (my wife), Jameson (my son), and I decided to drive over to Andelin Family Farms last Saturday for their annual Baby Animal Days.
The Andelin Farm festivities (e.g. the fall pumpkin patch and corn maze, zombie paintball, and their live Christmas nativity) are well-known staples here in the town, but since my family has only been in Reno for the past few years, it’s all new to us. We’ve heard a lot of great things, so we decided to experience them for ourselves. Andelin Family Farms is located off Pyramid Highway in Sparks, about 15 minutes from downtown Reno. They have a large sign on the highway signaling their turn off, but even if you were to miss the sign, the large quantity of cars parked in an unplowed field is also a good indicator you’re in the right place. Once we arrived, we bought our tickets at the door, which was really just a tent and a table, got our admission wrist-stamps, and proceeded to navigate the dozens, if not hundreds, of people, most of which were children, having fun in the fray on the multi-acre farmland.
We started by visiting the bird coops near the entrance; they had chickens, roosters, and a rather large and intimidating looking Narragansett turkey. We were hoping Jameson would try to communicate with this mixed troop of fowl since his favorite thing to do when we ask him “what sound does a chicken make” is to blurt out an impassioned “BA-KAAK!” Unfortunately, he wasn’t as communicative with the birds as we had hoped. That was probably on account of the rooster that crowed in his face and the aforementioned 30-pound tom turkey that towered over Jameson’s smaller frame. There were some emus on site as well, but since they, too, dwarfed my son, he wasn’t very interested in interacting with them either.
There were, however, other animals that were more fitting for a 19-month old to play with: rabbits, baby lambs, baby cows, and baby chicks. For an additional $5.00 we could have taken a pony ride (on either a regular-sized horse or miniature horse), had a baby calf, lamb, or goat feeding experience, or played with baby chicks. While Jameson did momentarily pet the rabbit, we opted for none of these additional immersive experiences, not because we didn’t want to, but because he was more impressed with the tractors, or “tucks” as he calls them, than anything else. Trucks, tractors, and machines of any sort are what captivates that boy, so we spent most of our time chasing Jameson as he chased the tractor hay ride making its way around the farm. We also spent a lot of time trying to get him to relinquish his monopolization of the old Ford 8N tractor that was parked on the property. The other kids nor the wasps that were nesting in the radiator could deter him from climbing all over that old piece of farm equipment; he loved all the old rigging, the stick shift, and oversized steering wheel, and it’s all the more reason why I can see myself investing in a John Deere tractor down the road (even if my wife disapproves and I really don’t have a need for one).
Jameson was equally fascinated with the mini-wheelbarrows that were set up to haul the plastic carrots and cabbage around the faux vegetable garden. Most of the older kids were quite savvy with how to use a wheelbarrow, but since this was Jameson’s first experience with one, he opted to push down on the handles, instead of lift up, and muscle his way through the dirt and gravel. It’s the same tactic he uses at home when he pushes the laundry baskets around the living room, so we simply watched in amusement as he plowed his own little furrows in the dirt.
There were other animals and activities as well: alpacas, pigs, a hay bale maze, slides, spring rocking horses, a fishing pond with magnetic fishing poles and fish, water-powered rubber ducky races, and giant corrugated drain pipes that kids could get into and roll by walking up the sides (there has to be a shorter name for those things). There were also food trucks and booths with a number of home-baked goods (e.g. pies, cinnamon rolls, pumpkin bread, and local honey). We left with a blackberry pie, something I grew up eating in Missouri but don’t get too much of on the West Coast. While the pie didn’t fully live up to my unusually high Midwestern standards for pie, it was still a wonderful treat to take home and one that I’d buy again given the chance.
The decision to spend a Saturday at Andelin Family Farm was a decision well made. My son got to see some baby animals, ride a tractor, and run free in a field of wildflowers along with other children. He did, unfortunately, trip on a dirt clod in that field, met terra firma face first, and mildly split open his lip, but that’s just part of the experience of growing up. After wiping off a few dusty tears and receiving a hearty hug from his mom, he was fine and ready to return to the fun and the fray. Not long after, though, Jameson was thoroughly exhausted, so we packed up our jogging stroller and returned home (and I’d highly recommend either a jogging stroller with large bike tires or an all-terrain wagon; anything with small wheels would be terribly difficult to navigate in the grass, dirt, and/or gravel). Our Saturday afternoon was, as my wife said once we got home, “a good day.”
Andelin Family Farms’ Baby Animal Days runs each Thursday-Saturday in April 10:00am-7:00pm. Admission is $7.00 (Thursday & Friday) and $8.00 (Saturday) for anyone over the age of 3; children 2 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.
Also, on April 19 & 20, there will be an Easter egg hunt for $5.00; and on May 4, there will be a “May the Fourth Be with You” 5k fundraiser fun run for $25.00, or a 1-mile run for the kids for $15.00. The Farm is located at 8100 Pyramid Way, Sparks, Nevada 89436, and they can be contacted at (775) 530-8032 or at Andelinfamilyfarm.com.