You may not know this about me, but I’m a country girl at heart. I grew up on, and around, farms, and lived on one until my early 20’s with my family. This meant that animals, hay, fresh fruit and veggies and all the fun that goes along with farm life was a normal, every day thing for me as a kid and teenager. I know, though, that most people are not lucky enough to experience that. I am grateful that my parents still live on their farm, and that Q gets to experience a bit of life the way I knew it. Even still, though, it is always fun to visit working farms and see all the fun things they have to offer.
One of our favourite places to go is the Applebarn, located in the Fraser a Valley, in Abbotsford, BC. It is approximately a one hour drive east of Vancouver, and is really easy to get to on the highway. It is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon with the family, somewhere you and your kids can go to burn off some steam, have some hands on time with animals, and pick your own apples or pumpkins. There is also a Country Store that sells treats to eat there and bring home with you, a concession stand for snacks, and even a real, working beehive to check out. They even have apple cider slushies, which are delicious.
We were recently invited to visit the AppleBarn pumpkin farm with a group of Vancouver bloggers to see the sights, and experience all the fun and adventure that the farm has to offer. We had been a few times before, on school field trips and for a couple of birthday parties, but the farm never loses it’s magic for us. After we arrived, we were introduced to the farmer/owner Loren Taves, who owns the farm with his wife Corrine. Loren grew up on this farm, and took over from his parents a number of years ago. He explained a bit of the history behind the farm to us, before taking us on a tour of the barn.
There we found BunnyTown, which is a perpetual favourite of most kids I know. Inside BunnyTown you will find, you guessed it, bunnies. Kids can enter through a “rabbit hole”, which is a little doorway covered by a curtain. My kiddo loves it. Once through the rabbit hole, you will find cages full of bunnies. In addition, there are three pens where kids can enter and pet the bunnies. Only 4 children are allowed in at a time, you are not permitted to pick them up, and the bunnies are rotated in and out so they don’t get too scared or overwhelmed. Q loves petting the bunnies. They are different kinds, and range from smooth to very fluffy, and from wee to quite big. One of the little bunnies really took to him, and nuzzled his face and hand and tried to climb up into his lap. He was delighted. BunnyTown is connected to the rest of the petting barn. In it, you will find a couple of alpacas, goats, sheep and pigs that you can pet. There is even a little food dispenser that, for $.25 will give you a handful of animal food. Be careful if you do this, though, as some of the animals can get quite excited and will try to steal it right out of your hands.
On top of the barn there is a play area, with a ride on tractor obstacle course, a zip-line and a couple of slides. It also connects to another big, twisty slide by a little bridge. Q loves this part of the farm, and although he is not quite big enough to push off on the zip line, with a bit of assistance from a grown-up or bigger kid, he is good to go. The slides are great fun too. Be aware that one of the slides goes quite fast, so if your child is small, you might want to be there to catch them the first time or two. The slides also exit at ground level, so kids need to be a bit aware of the hayride tractors, but it’s very safe. I like to stand on the bridge and watch the goings-on around the farm and look out to the corn and apple orchards.
Next up, Farmer Loren took us on a hayride around the farm. This is pretty close to the hayrides that I grew up with, except the wagon is a bit fancier and has a canopy for bad weather. We were driven out to the apple orchard, where some of our group got off to pick some delicious apples. When in season, you can also take the hayride out to the pumpkin patch, get off and pick your pumpkin, and then get back on the hayride so you don’t have to lug your pumpkins back. While on the hayride, we learned some more about the farm and it’s history, and the kids enjoyed watching to see how many different kinds of apples they could see.
One of the new things we tried on this visit was the corn cannon. It is pretty much just what it sounds. You shoot cobs of corn which have been jammed into the cannon at angry looking apple targets down range. Q was so excited to get to fire the cannon. His first cob of corn didn’t hit a target, but his second one flew and he had a near miss on the very farthest one. Once pumpkins are in season, you can shoot those as well, and I think that we will be going back to try that too!
Image courtesy of Alan Katowitz Photography
Another fun activity is the corn maze. There are two mazes, one is kid-sized and the other adult sized. We have done the kid maze a few times the past, and I I honestly had no idea that there was a larger one until this year. It is a bit harder to find, and requires you to go through a gate, so it is not easy for kids to wander in to. There are stations scattered throughout the maze with colored chalk. The goal is to dip one finger into each of the five colours of chalk as you find them. Once you our finish the maze and return to the start, there is a chart with all of the different colour combinations. I believe there is at least 100 different ones, and depending on what your fingers show, there is an action or activity for you to do, such as hop like a kangaroo or pretend to be a donkey. It’s a lot of fun.
Last but not least, I cannot forget the jumping pillows. There are two pillows at the AppleBarn this year, which is fantastic, as the addition of a second pillow means that lots more people can be bouncing at any given time. This is probably one of Q’s most favourite parts of visiting the AppleBarn. If you’ve never seen a jumping pillow, it is exactly what it sounds like. A giant, air filled pillow that acts like a trampoline. It is a lot of fun to bounce and play on, and kids love it, especially mine.
Q and I went apple picking for the first time on this visit. Although my parents have fruit trees at their farm, they are very tall, and Q cannot pick things himself. The great thing about the trees at the AppleBarn is that they are short enough to allow everyone to pick their own apples. The trees in the area that we were picking in were fairly picked over, but if you took the wagon out or walked to the rest of the orchard, you probably wouldn’t have that problem. I just wasn’t able to lug a bag of apples back very far, so we chose to go to the trees close to the barns. We were still able to get a bag full of apples, though, and Q had a great time picking them himself.
I could go on and on about all the fun things that you will experience at the AppleBarn, but I would recommend that you go and check it out for yourself. It is a fantastic way to spend a day, and I would advise making sure that you allow plenty of time to get the best experience.