I grew up surrounded by farmland which was mildly idyllic, although now I associate farms and farmers with a chronic intolerance of trespassers, putting stray kittens in bins and being simultaneously rich and miserable. This has not been passed onto the Major because pretty much ever since he’s been able to point at something and squawk he’s been fascinated by farms. When I say farm I mean livestock and not arable. He’s not well into barley for instance.
We are fortunate as we live near one called Godstone Farm where you are invited to watch, feed and interact with the animals. It’s the very place if you’ve always yearned to interact with a terrapin.
Godstone Farm is gigantic and the best thing about it is that it feels like a farm would be if it had been designed by a child. So along with all your industry-standard farm animals there’s an entire section inhabited by dinosaurs. I should clarify that the dinosaurs are synthetic. One of them does growl as you walk past, although it is standing suspiciously close to a speaker system. There are also two vast Saharan sand pits, a barn housing only slides and an entire silo full of jelly beans. Okay, there are no jelly beans. Or a silo.
There are some things you should know about Godstone if you are thinking of a visit. Firstly due to a strategic oversight the goats have been installed next to the entrance. I doubt that their cleansing routine is any less enthusiastic than its neighbours but the odour they emit is worse than the vague smell of manure everywhere else. It hits you in the nose and the eyes and mouth as soon as you’ve negotiated the ticket office. But just get your head down, walk on and soon there will be sweet-smelling turkeys.
If you’re a big fan of cows you may be disappointed. There are two token cows here. But there are pigs everywhere. The reason for this is evident. In my experience pigs are friskiest of all the farm beasts. My family and I once witnessed this at close quarters when two of them went for it big-style recently. While other parents ushered their children away, my wife and I stood transfixed as the couple embarked on a brutal but impressive routine during which the man-pig sniffed his mate from behind, bit her in the udders and then mounted her in the most punishing way imaginable. The results of this kind of action are all over the farm and they are genuinely adorable.
Godstone Farm has a solid selection of poultry. I continue to be impressed by the ducks here. They can walk, swim and fly but don’t make a massive fuss about it, getting all up in your grill like the geese sometimes do. There are also more leftfield animals, by which I mean not traditionally farm animals as opposed to animals standing in a field in the left. Chipmunks, tarantulas, ferrets, and a gecko called Erica.
So for us, and our growing family of farm-obsessives Godstone Farm is a godsend. And we will continue to visit until our boys become interested in something else. Like barley for instance.