Woodside Animal Farm in Bedfordshire is open every day from 8am (except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day)! Despite the early risers in this household I wasn’t capable of getting everyone out of the door that early and we arrived just after 10am. The farm has an impressive range of animals and is great for children 7 years old and under – just the right size for little legs to explore. You can see how we got on in this video of our day at Woodside Animal Farm.
Woodside Animal Farm
We are greeted by greedy goats jumping onto the fence of their paddock, eager for something – or anything – to eat. I bought a bag of animal feed at the entrance to the farm and as the boys squabble over who will be first, the largest goat grabs the bag and manages to rip a huge hole in the side. It is very early on a Sunday morning to be dealing with a ravenous, paper-bag thieving goat but somehow I manage to summon the reflexes to twist the bag and save the majority of the animal feed. The boys both think this is hilarious. I take a step away from the paddock and carefully scoop sticky animal feed into their hands, trying to make the most of what we have left. The goats merrily eat out of the flat hands of both boys and there are giggles and whoops of delight. As there isn’t enough paper bag to carry the animal feed around I am happy to let The Wild One and Cub use up all the feed on the goats, then we dutifully wash our hands at the outdoor sinks close by.
The sheep wander over and oblige with some entertaining bleating (check out the end of the video for the best bleat of the day). We say hello to a beautiful pony, llamas, alpacas, turkeys, chickens, pigs and much to the Wild One’s delight the donkey does a poo right next to where he is standing. All the animals are easy to see, even when Cub is in the buggy and most of the animals come up to the fences to meet us.
We slowly wend our way to the top of the farm along the concrete path (making pushing the buggy easy-going) and we find an aviary with a few flamingoes preening and prettifying and peacocks strutting around and there is some more poo, courtesy of a guinea fowl. Then it is getting close to time for the tractor rides and we head back the way we came to find the tractor stop.
The Wild One and Cub jump up and down waiting for the tractor. When the tractor eventually chugs past us the trailer isn’t huge and seats about 8 people, but we get a seat and I noticed later that the tractor did several trips, until everyone who was waiting had a go. The little red tractor pulls the trailer up to the top of the farm and back again – simple but enjoyable for young children and the ride is fairly smooth, so I am happy. In the past five years I have become an expert on tractor trailer rides. At the top of the scale they can be so perilously bumpy that you hold onto your child in fear that they will fly out of the side as they chuckle with laughter and scream for bigger bumps. At the end of the scale is the extremely slow and cautious tractor ride around a field where there is nothing to see other than some grass and another bit of grass. The Woodside Animal Farm tractor trailer ride happily sits in the middle – not too bumpy and it takes you around the whole farm so we get to wave at all the animals we have already met.
Where to Eat
Re-energised and refuelled we explore the outdoor play areas. There are several different areas for outdoor play and the equipment seems to be aimed at children under 7 years old. This was perfect for us as Cub (18 months) likes to think he can do anything that his older brother can do and everything is small and manageable enough that Cub can try and keep up – with help from me. We spend time balancing and wobbling across the wooden trim trail, clambering up the small plastic climbing frame and sliding down the slide. The swings don’t tempt the boys, instead they are drawn to the ride-on tractors. There are only two tractors available and as the boys clamber on their chosen tractors I realise that they are coin operated and they need a £1 coin! I rummage around in my bag and let out an audible sigh of relief at the sight of one shiny gold coin. The Wild One puts the pedal to the metal and zooms around the circuit a couple of times before the money runs out. Fortunately Cub doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that his tractor isn’t moving and he is happy on the tractor just turning the steering wheel.
Thankfully the fairground rides are included in the entry price to the farm. I like the look of the cute, gentle little carousel but the boys are running towards the spinning teacups ride and I am outvoted. The trampolines are out-of-action as they are soaking wet from the previous night’s rainfall.
On the way out we pop into the barn. Inside we find an adorable rabbit, stretching and even yawning as he enjoyed a lazy Sunday. The guinea pigs are suitably fluffy and there are some very energetic chinchillas and gorgeous chicks, as well as some more unusual reptiles like a bearded dragon and a boa constrictor.
We don’t have time for a round of crazy golf or one of the animal handling sessions in the barn. The Wild One is still talking about when Mum was attacked by the goat and of course – the poo.
We managed to spend over 3 hours on the farm on a dry day and we didn’t see and do absolutely everything. If it had been raining we could have retreated to the small soft play, or the barn for an animal handling session, but I am thankful for a cloudy day so we could make the most of everything on offer. Woodside Animal Farm doesn’t have the most modern facilities, but for a hands-on day out with plenty of animals this get the thumbs up.
To avoid disappointment, check details and opening hours with the venue before you travel.
Woodside Animal Farm is in Slip End, Bedfordshire, LU1 4DG