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Hello friends! Welcome to the year of our robot overlords 2014, which we happily rung in playing board games with our pal Dani. And, not to brag, but out of five games of Space Invaders Jenga and one game of Risk, I won every single one. I mean, I’m trying to be humble, but you gotta admit, I’m actually pretty incredible. (Or, more likely, that will be the high point, intellectually, of my year.)

Teach is on holidays, so we are cavorting all over Melbourne, doing Fun Kid Stuff. A few days ago, we woke early and chipper and Teach suggested we go to the Collingwood Children’s Farm. Like the zoo, a farm can be a bit of a tricky idea when you’re vegetarian. I am big on animal rights and welfare, and the idea of paying to see animals which, in an ideal world, would just be cruising the city streets and catching trams like the rest of us, is an awkward one. By paying to see caged animals, am I enabling a future in which this never changes? And while the zoo has conservation going for it (the Melbourne Zoo singlehandedly brought a stick insect back from extinction, and it’s not even a particularly attractive animal), the farm clearly doesn’t, because I’m pretty sure cows, sheep and chickens are not an endangered species. On the other hand, is it vital for children to see properly where the food they eat comes from, rather than think of it as an abstract concept, beef separate from cow, etc etc? Look, I’m definitely not here to judge on wherever you fall–and I clearly went–just kind of discussing how maybe this could be an uncomfortable situation to put yourself in if your ethics fall on the side of Don’t Eat Those Guys, I Mean Look They’re Adorable.

So parking (if you can’t score a free one outside) is six dollars that you have to pay in coins before you enter the carpark. Then, you follow a rather cute little pathway to the reception area, where you pay–it was $16 for a family pass–and then you are free to explore the farm as you wish, though the first place you pass is the cafe (http://www.farmcafe.com.au/, it looked and smelled delicious but I couldn’t see much for vegans there though they may be able to adapt something).

The farm is enormous. Seriously, in the horse pasture, I looked up at the other side of the river, the beautiful hills, and thought that it must be prime real estate. There is a lot of space, and it’s used well–you don’t feel you have to walk too far to the next exciting thing. First, we brushed a cow (you could also milk them but, you know, as someone who’s been milked herself, I am happy to never ever do that. Still, the milk goes to the calves, or any other orphan lambs or kids that are around). Next, we cuddled a guinea pig. I also worried about them, because the guinea pigs are in cages but you can take them out and hug them, then put them back, where they are immediately taken out and hugged again. It’s all very nice, and it doesn’t happen all day–there are certain times, otherwise they are left alone–but I just felt bad about it, even though the animals seemed happy enough. What happened next made me realise where my discomfort lay; we were walking when Teach spied some kids huddled in a corner. They’d trapped some chickens against the fence and were holding them down, and a boy was, he thought, about to poke at them with a stick. Teach explained that chickens don’t like to be cornered like that and that maybe they would peck if they were in a panic. The kids said nothing but when Teach turned they backed away and the chickens ran free.

See, the problem isn’t really the idea. The farm obviously treats its animals very well, with lots of space and love and food and comfort. Education is also an important idea that they serve very well. What is horrible is that kids can be completely awful and as parents, you need to be aware at all times what your kid is doing, because maybe they could be poking a chicken with a freaking stick.

Anyway, after that we followed a path to the horses (past a sign that said watch out for snakes, but we didn’t see any). The Rocket was very happy about that, saying “More horse!” as we went to look at each one as they hung out in their stables eating brunch. They were very big and they said neigh and stuff, OKAY¬† FINE, I admit it, I hate horses, they are ENORMOUS. At the end was a donkey with the sneezes which was pretty hilarious.

Around there were some sheep having a wander, so we went and touched their wool and the Rocket was just about dancing in excitement, changing her refrain to “More baa!”. There I took my one picture to remember the day. We also saw a peacock, which, you know, didn’t end well when we tried to teach the word to the Rocket and she just yelled “COCK!” for five minutes until eventually being coached into “PEEK!”. Further on were the goats, which were her absolute flip-out favourite even though she was too scared to touch them. We went and stood near them a lot and pointed and laughed at them. Hopefully they weren’t too offended.

Also we saw a cat that hissed and went to see the pigs. After pointedly not touching anything because I didn’t like to, the pig ran excitedly up to the fence I was behind and I thought, it loves me so I guess I can pat its bristly snout. So I reached my hand in and it bit me. Not painful, but super gross. Lesson learned. Wipes liberally applied.

There are also geese and ducks and bees and earthworms and tractors, and you can bring your dog as long as you keep it on a lead. And, of course, there are other kids, which the Rocket always loves.

In conclusion, because this got long (what a surprise, I’m usually so succinct), the Collingwood Children’s Farm is beautiful, good value for money, in a nice, picturesque location, and there are heaps of high chairs and benches near the cafe, and I don’t know if I’ll go back, though I’m sure the Rocket would love to. Maybe if they make a rule that kids have to be on leads as well, then we’ll talk.

Collingwood Children’s Farm

18 St Heliers St

Abbotsford

phone: 9417 5806

website

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