Farm Field Trip

 

 

 

 

I’m really on a kick this week, folks–and a farming kick, nonetheless. Perhaps it’s because you can’t drive more than 2 miles (er..kilometers) here without passing through a sheep paddock or a cow pasture. In fact, 1 out of every 7 jobs in Ireland is involved in agriculture and food. I love it. Yesterday I took the boys to our local farmer’s market (read more about our escapades here) and we had so much fun that I decided to take a little field trip out to a REAL farm today (mommy gold star: earned). It wasn’t difficult to find a farm to visit (like I said, lots of farms here) so I chose one just outside of Cork city called The Farm at Grenagh. It’s an open farm with real animals and tractors and crops…and lots of fun things for the kidlets, too.

When we got to the farm David was in a mood, so I sat him on a bench to brood while Jacob and I checked out the riding tractors. I even managed to snap a quick photo of him before he tumbled right off the slick little seat (don’t worry, Gramma Doreen, I caught him before he hit the ground).

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Seeing that the farm was actually a fun place (duh) David decided to join in our activities. The next place we headed was the sandbox. We had fun building sand castles (and, for Jacob, eating a fair amount of said sand castles).

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After getting our fill of sand (literally) we went into the animal barn to meet some furry friends. This goat was very friendly. A little too friendly for my comfort. Jacob kept sticking his foot up near the fence and the goat would lick his shoe. Knowing goats tendencies to eat assorted non-food objects (like, for instance, leather baby booties) I decided it was probably best for all involved if we parted ways.

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Just outside of the animal barn there were several pastures with cows, sheep, horses and donkeys. My children love donkeys. Both of them. Kinda strange, but you’ve gotta love something. As soon as we rounded the corner to where the donkeys were, both boys started heeing and hawing. The donkeys must have liked it because they sauntered over to the fence to say hello. The boys could have stayed at that fence all day stroking those soft little donkey noses but, alas, there was more farm to be seen.

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Next on our agenda was a lesson in cow milking. They had cow “statues” (not quite sure what to call a large metal cow with udders full of water) and the kids got to learn how cows are milked and put real milk suckers (again, not sure what to call them) on the cows to “milk” them.

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After our lesson in cow milking, it was time for a tractor-pull train ride. Jacob and I even managed to squeeze into one of the little barrels so we could tour the farm with the other kids.

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Then we went into the farms museum that was full of old-timey memorabilia. David enjoyed working as the telephone switchboard operator (after I told him that they were telephones, that is. Poor thing has only ever seen iPhones, so he really didn’t have a clue how to work them).

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We ended the day with a visit to the ball pit. There are many things I love about Ireland, and right at the top of the list is the fact that there are ball pits everywhere: at shopping malls, at playgrounds, at farms. There is almost nothing else in this world that brings my boys so much joy as a romp in a ball pit. Thank you, Ireland, for providing me hours of whine-free entertainment.

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And then it was time to go home. Singing “Old McDonald” the whole way.

 

Fota Wildlife Park

We had expected to be able to move in to our house yesterday. However, as we were getting ready to leave Seattle a few days ago, our landlord contacted us to let us know that his tenants wouldn’t be moved out until Monday. So, instead of unpacking and settling in to our new home this weekend, we found ourselves with some free time on our hands. We rarely have free time together as a family–let alone a whole weekend–let alone in a foreign country. Plus, the church we found here is out of town on a retreat this weekend so we didn’t even have that to go to today. All that to say, we got another family fun day today. Yahoo!

We decided to drive just outside of the Cork City Center to the Fota Wildlife Park.

It’s a really neat zoo with free-roaming and barely-fenced-in animals–perfect for getting up close and personal with the wildlife. Here’s Jon walking up to some Mara (large South American rodents) and wallabies:

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There were also zebras, ostriches, and giraffes in a large enclosure near the entrance:

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We saw lots of monkeys, including a sprightly baby Gibbon (on the roof in this photo):

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All of the monkeys are housed on their own private islands:

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We had so much fun at Fota that we bought a membership so we can return again soon!

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On our way back to Cork we drove through the town of Cobh (formerly called Queenstown). This was the last port that Titanic stopped at to pick up passengers before making her fateful journey out to sea. Coincidentally, this is also the port where the ship Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Missile , thus instigating World War I. Besides it’s fascinating history, Cobh is just a quaint little town:

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From Cobh we caught the (2 minute ride) car ferry back across the water to Rochestown (where our house is).

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Tomorrow will be moving day and Jon’s first day of work–back to reality!