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Little Gem of a Farmyard in Picturesque Ripley Village
Not many people know that this little oasis of old farm fun exists, not even many of the locals in nearby Harrogate or Ripon, but the Old Farmyard at Ripley is one of those little gems of a find that you can enjoy as a family day out, all through the summer months. And lucky for us it's just a short trip up the road.
The last time I took Alice to this miniature farm was a few weeks ago when lambs were still being born every day, and little fluffy yellow chicks and ducklings were in abundance. Not only can children take turns at bottle-feeding the new born lambs, and occasionally even feeding the calves, but they can also learn all about how farms used to work in the olden days.
The farmyard is situated in a proper cobbled yard partially covered by a barn with stables on either side to house the animals. You can find huge Clydesdale horses (most of them still working horses, breeders, and a couple of retired characters), naughty goats, a slightly grumpy-looking Shetland pony called Bruce, plenty of sheep of different breeds, mooful cows with calves and of course, lots of chickens and ducks. The family sheep dogs are also sometimes in attendance beside their kennels when they're not working. But my personal favourite are the piglets, rather smelly, but very, very cute.
Birchwood Farm has its own museum of ancient farm equipment and tools, and there's a bright red vintage tractor in the yard for the kids to play on. As well as the animals, the friendly folk who run the farmyard show visitors and children how to make butter in a churn the old-fashioned way, how to make their own skipping rope using traditional tools and techniques, traditional rag rug-making and everyone also has the opportunity to sit on top of one of the really massive Clydesdale horses. It took us a few visits before Alice had the courage to climb up on one of the horses as they are really high! The highlight of the day is a horse-drawn carriage ride around the beautiful village of Ripley. You sit in the carriage and feel very privileged as it takes you across the road, clip-clopping past Ripley Castle's majestic entrance, then speeds up for a trot back round to the farmyard. It's definitely worth the trip!