Collecting eggs from the chickens and putting out hay for the horses offers a taste of farm life with six different Animal Adventures at Primrose Farm, a facility of the St. Charles Park District.
This fall the working farm is inviting guests to help feed, groom and care for its animals. Alison Jones, Manager of Farm Programs and Interpretive Services, said these classes allow guests of all ages to enjoy animal experiences. Programs range from the simple task feeding chickens to shadowing staff throughout the farm.
“You can choose to feed the chickens or goats, which takes just a few minutes, to spending an afternoon assisting with daily feeding chores,” Jones said. “The little ones tend to like the classes that are short and sweet while the older children and adults enjoy asking questions.”
A great introduction to the farm life is the Feed the Chickens and Feed the Goats programs. Jones and her staff help visitors to feed the animals. She said these two programs are popular for preschool-age children and an adult can easily assist a child.
For the next level of adventure try the Chicken and Egg activity where visitors enter the coop to collect eggs and participants are able to take some home for their own kitchen.
The Animal Adventure: Hold Your Horses gives visitors the opportunity to help groom the farm’s Belgian draft horses. Jones, who has been managing the farm for the last four years, said the horses really enjoy the attention and spending time with people. For visitors, it’s a chance to learn about the horse care and ask staff questions too.
Learn how milk a cow with the Hands On Milking experience where visitors can hand-milk a Jersey cow, or spend the afternoon helping around the farm with the Feed the Animals program where participants learn how to mix grain and feed the farm’s animals.
Advance registration is required. These educational opportunities offer a personal feel and give participants a chance to engage with staff and learn more about the animal care.
Fees range from $1-$6 per person. COVID-19 protocols are in place, which means participants will need to wear masks during the class when the instructor is present. And, it’s best to dress for the weather and the job, Jones said, adding that closed-toed shoes and long pants are best when working up close with the animals.
Jones said she grew up in a rural community and was a town-kid who often visited friends on their family farms. Today, she enjoys her work directly with the animals and the opportunity to teach visitors about the animals.
“I’ve learned a lot on the job,” Jones said.