Dear Mummy, we headed to our local farm over the weekend. We wanted to take full advantage of the sunshine, so bundled into the car and took the short journey to the outskirts of Basingstoke. We’ve never been to Miller’s Ark but had heard great things from other local mums on social media. Miller’s Ark is based at Manor Farm off Blackstocks Lane, in Hook, Hampshire RG27 9PH. It’s really easy to get to and you can see the farm from the A30, 5 minutes from Basingstoke. When we arrived they had a lower carpark (overflow) just off the lane and a top car park on the farm for customers.
Miller’s Ark Animals is what the company at the farm is called and was first established in 1991 by Elizabeth Miller to offer an interactive farm-yard experiences. Miller’s Ark Animals is one of the original ‘mobile farms’ and travels to nurseries, schools, residential homes and corporate events, allowing everyone to have a wonderful farm experience and meet the animals without travelling out to the countryside.
I had loads of fun feeding the sheep, however I was a bit wary to begin with! The sunshine was so bright that I had to wear my sunglasses. They were special feed zones to feed the animals, so I bought a cup of feed for £1 with my pocket-money. On the Miller’s Ark Open Day members of the public could go into every pen and handle all the animals which is amazing! The staff encouraged us to groom the baby donkeys and ponies, cuddle cute little lambs and baby goats, stroke the rabbits and guinea pigs on our laps, hold tiny chicks and ducklings and tickle the piglets tummies. We were in our element and just wished we had gone down earlier! We could have spent hours down on the farm with the animals – apologies for the lack of animal handling shots in this post – we were too busy handling the animals! 😉
I liked jumping around in the play barn area amongst the hay bales and it was good ol’ fashioned fun. They even had mini tractors for me to sit on. We’ve never had so much opportunity to touch and stroke animals, much better than other farms we’ve been too when we’ve had to wait for a turn at certain timed sessions. There was lots of animals and staff on hand to help. Even though it was busy we could walk into an animal pen without queuing and sit amongst the animals.
Everyone knows that visiting a farm is an enjoyable and educational experience for little ones and we found it very therapeutic and calming. I even started chatting to the goats! They were rubbing their heads against my mummy boots as they had an itch which I thought was very funny! In all her life my mummy has never been up close with so many animals in such a small period of time. It was better than going to the zoo! She really enjoyed the experience too.
I had fun riding on the blue land train called Looby Loo and it cost £1 a ride per person. It was really informative too and the lady on the train told us all about the history of the farm and the animals. We’d actually recommend starting off with this little tour so you can get your bearings. It’s only a small working farm but its great to spot all the lively characters who live on it!
I loved that we were freely allowed to enter the pens and that built my confidence. I wasn’t scared of the animals at the end of our visit. The farm animals are all extremely friendly and used to human contact. We didn’t see any lambs being born on the afternoon we visited, but usually over the Lambing Weekend some visitors are lucky enough to see it. We were instructed to wash our hands after petting and handling the animals with informative posters and signs up. The washing facilities were basic, but worked perfectly and had a station outside every handling area. I don’t think I’ve washed my hands so much and so often, in a very long time! It was very cold afterwards so mittens and gloves are a must.
We had a late lunch around 3pm in the Old Dairy Tea Barn. I enjoyed warm tomato soup with bread and my mummy had a slice of delicious homemade cake with her tea. There is no designated picnic area, however Miller’s Ark had a heated Tea Barn which paying customers could use and enjoy. There was also a lovely patio area with sheepskin rugs and fleecy blankets which we thought was nice touch. The range of food was impressive with a large selection of sandwiches and warm hearty food at reasonable prices and vegetarian and gluten-free food was available too. They even had farm produce on sale too. The toilet facilities were clean and the cubicles large enough for families, which is great for single pair of hands with kids, as it means you can get all your children in there at one time. My mummy found that really handy.
Miller’s Ark is well worth a visit if you want your children to see what a REAL working farm is like. Miller’s Ark had really friendly staff of all different ages, it was nice to see some of the young helpers get a lot of responsibility. The location is quite rural so don’t forget your wellies and wet weather gear, as it can get muddy.
We will definitely be visiting this farm again, I can’t believe it’s taken us so long to get down here!
Love Bella x