Saturday, September 18, 2010

Free Petting Zoo - Alderbrook Farm, Dartmouth, MA

Dwarf Nigerian Goat at Alderbrook Farm

Little M and Nanny Rating:   * * * * (out of 4)

Thanks to new friends we met at the Westport Community Playground, Little M and I learned about a free petting zoo just one town over at Alderbrook Farm in Dartmouth, MA.

This family-owned farm has a menagerie of happy and well-cared for animals (the guard goose is an exception, but we'll get to him later).  Some are in fenced-off areas, such as pygmy goats, dwarf Nigerian goats, a peacock couple, a very large rooster, a pot bellied pig, hens in a hen house, and larger pigs in a pen; but many of them will greet you at the fence so you can pet them or at least view them up close.  Painted wooden signs state the animal's name, breed, and date they were born or "hatched."

Note:  A farm employee told us that each day around 4:00 PM - 4:30 PM, the animals are brought into the barn for the night.  This gives visitors an opportunity to pet the animals that were behind fences. 

Male Peacock at Alderbrook Farm

Other animals in the open pasture areas are tethered to the ground so they can't go extremely far, such as donkeys, a sheep, and two very large steers.  My camera battery died half-way through tour, so I wasn't able to capture any of the larger animals. We weren't brave enough to do more than admire the steers from afar, but both M and I were able to pet the donkey and the sheep.  M also learned that everyone does indeed "poop" as some of the animals cared very little that we were standing there petting them as they did their business.

The tethered animals are moved around to new grassy areas each day, but the guard goose always seems to be near a donkey or two.  As soon as someone approaches anywhere near his fenced in area, he runs over honking very loudly and sticks his long neck through the fence in an aggressive way.  Both M and I had our pants nibbled at when we got too close.  M was very upset, and cried that the "goose bit me," which fortunately he did not. We learned that this goose is very protective of the animals and watches over them, so be warned if you hear him honking nearby!

Beware the Guard Goose at Alderbrook Farm
Seeing animals, flowers, and vegetable gardens in a wide open space on a breezy, sunny day was plenty enough to make us happy, but another bonus was found up a small hill off the dirt road (across from the hen house and pig pen) -- a small play area with swings (one baby swing also), a slide, and some climbing ladders.  There is also a riding horse on springs and a little wooden structure with toy trucks (M's favorite things).  We sat in a tiny dirt patch at the bottom of the slide to dig for awhile with the vehicles before heading back down the dirt road to the farm store.

M was a little distracted when he came upon a toy farm, toy tractor and farm animals (similar animals were on sale on shelves above) to play with in the store, but it gave me just enough time to look over the delicious-looking miniature pies and artisan breads from a local bakery in addition to the farm's fresh vegetables and plants.  In the end, I chose two chocolate-chip cookies and a loaf of crusty, sourdough bread while M picked out a pumpkin to bring home.

Another bonus near the parking lot were two rabbit cages containing one very fat rabbit named Bun-Bun and another spikey-haired Lionhead rabbit named Bean. We can't wait to go back!

Alderbrook Farm

1213 Russells Mills Road
Dartmouth, MA 02747

(508) 636-4562

Hours: 5:00 AM - 5:30 PM year-round
Free Petting Zoo - Alderbrook Farm, Dartmouth, MASocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

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