(I’m also barefoot, for some reason. I guess parents weren’t as concerned with things like hookworm and general hygiene in the early 80s. But I digress.)
That photo was taken at Maymont’s Children’s Farm—which also happens to be where my son and I currently spend a good chunk of our days during the spring and summer. As a dyed-in-the-wool Richmonder, being able to watch my little boy enjoy this amazing place that I also loved as a kid is one of those “Life is good” moments. Our trip this past Monday was one of our best yet: sunny skies, cooler temperatures, and even a couple of baby goats for us (mostly me) to squeal over.
Located on Maymont’s 100-acre estate nestled between the James River and Byrd Park, the Children’s Farm is home to animals you’d find on any typical farm: horses, goats, cows, chickens, you name it. All of the animals roam about in fenced-in pastures or pens (except the peacock and his hen who strut around as they please), but they’re still well within reach so curious little hands can give them a pat to say hello. For 25 cents a handful, you can also load up on feed right at the entrance to the farm; doing so will surely make you very popular with the barnyard set. Just remember to bring a plastic cup or baggie to hold it in…and be sure watch out for those goats. As we learned on our most recent trip, they have no problem snatching a Dixie cup right out of your hand if it means they’ll get a snack. We had a good giggle after that one.
You could easily make a morning of it at the Children’s Farm itself, but on Monday my son and I decided to followed the paved trails down the hill to Maymont’s Wildlife Exhibit to see if the bobcat was (for once) out of his cave and to say hello to the pair of bald eagles that make their home in the impressive Birds of Prey section of the park. And of course, we had to take a chance at spotting Maymont’s famous and elusive black bears. No luck on that one this time; from our experience, the bears only make appearances on really hot days when they want to take a dip in the pond.
But not to worry: we’ll be back at Maymont plenty this summer. We’re sure to catch a glimpse of those bears yet.
Maymont’s Children’s Farm and Wildlife Exhibit are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the Children’s Farm barn opens at noon, Tuesday through Sunday. Maymont is free to the public, but a $4 per person donation is appreciated. And if you end up checking out the Wildlife Exhibit, be sure to bring the stroller if you’ve got little ones in tow. Those hills can be tough and you don’t want to be lugging 35 pounds of toddler around.
(Pro tip: On your way back up to the Children’s Farm, don’t take the route past the goats; loop around next to the horse pasture instead. The hill isn’t so steep over there. Trust me, your legs will thank me.)
Maymont Children’s Farm & Wildlife Exhibit
Corner of Spotswoods Road and Shirley Lane
Valerie Catrow is the former editor of RVANews and a current contributor to their parenting column, Raising Richmond. A Richmonder through-and-through, she grew up in Midlothian, graduated from the University of Richmond, and currently lives on the city’s Northside with her husband, Ross, and their son, JR. You can see what she’s up to on a day-to-day basis on her personal blog: Made in Richmond.