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Goldenrod Animal Farm

To take a visual tour of Goldenrod Animal Farm or join some visitors checking out their favorite animals click on the buttons below.

After a long search we discovered a farm for sale that was just right for us. It had land, lots of pastures and best of all a huge barn. The house was an old farm house that would need some cosmetic work but was basically sound. We closed in January of 93 and moved in later that month.

The first spring we started with cleaning up the 150 year old barn and creating a pig pen downstairs in one corner of the barn, with an outside run. We also cleaned up an old shaving bin and made a chicken pen and filled it with 20 laying hens on one side and 50 broiler chicks on the other side. Six ducklings were bought to grace a little pond on our property, and that is a whole story in itself! We were both glad to get back to farming, each of us had some farming experience before we got together. That fall we added a pair of English Angora Rabbits named Thistle and Puka.

The second year saw a definite increase in animals. Early in spring we took metal saws, chain saws and hammer to the downstairs of the barn and made 5 more box stalls out of the area that had once housed 50 milking cows. The "flock" of registered Romney Sheep arrived in early March. We got the snowblower out to make a path through 6 feet of snow around to the back of the barn so they could get to their new home. The 5 ewes came with 4 lambs and a ram named Houdini. The sheep were quickly followed by a Llama named High Tide, his job was to guard the sheep against predators, but he came down with meningealcoccal worm within a month and a half and we lost him. The Rabbitry was enlarged with six New Zealand Rabbits and a brood of eight of the cutest baby English Angoras you ever saw. Spring arrived with assorted birds, 100 broiler chicks, 3 turkey polts, 35 bantam chicks, and 65 laying hens, we were in the egg business.

We had to scramble to get pastures done so everyone could go out, and by May, three pastures were done and the pig pen enlarged to accommodate 4 pigs. That kept us busy for the summer along with a large garden. In the fall I received a Jersey calf, the start of my "milk herd" for an anniversary present and we named her Buttercup.

We always had lots of visitors wanting to see the animals, with lots of interesting questions like: How can the chickens lay eggs without a Rooster? or When do you start milking the cow? People that had never touched a chicken, or seen a sheep in person, you would think we were in the city not rural Maine.

The next spring the "milk herd" increased with a pair of registered Toggenburg doelings, whenever we went out to the pasture, the "milk herd", a small Jersey heifer and two tiny doelings would follow us around. The Sheep presented us with 5 lambs from 3 ewes and we sheared in May for the first time. We decided to try a Llama again and Sailor Man a beautiful fuzzy black 6 month old Llama arrived in June. We increased the pastures by one, now having 4 rotating pastures. Our hen flock had increased to 100, and our increased customers always wanted to go see the new babies and all the other animals. We also got 26 turkeys, six of them Royal Palm Turkeys, 50 broilers and a dozen pheasants.The calf Buttercup was now a cow, she was bred in September for a late spring calf. We started gathering milking equipment buying it secondhand from a Maine Swap & Sell guide called Uncle Henry's. In the fall we purchased two Scottish Highland Steers to train as pulling steers. Mac and Andy had to first learn to lead, that kept us busy all fall.

That summer we discussed starting an Animal Farm, people were coming to visit the farm on a regular basis. The wide assortment of animals even enthralled local people that had dairy farms or just a few animals. The idea of an Animal Farm that would be patterned after a homestead style farm was appealing. We would have the type of animals a well rounded farm had 100 years ago, augmented with gardens and orchards to provide the family with quality food and fiber year round.

To get ready for planning we visited an animal farm in southern Maine, that fall. The owner was very helpful, the park was closed, but he gave us the grand tour in his horse drawn hay wagon. He indulged us with tales of how he started, things that he would do different, what worked and didn't work for him and the general running of the park. He then told us to walk around all we wanted and he would meet us later for any questions. We wandered around for about 2 hours looking at shelters, pens, animals and started planning how we would like our Animal Farm to look and run.

At first we thought we could have the petting areas in the barn, but a 150 year old barn is not the safest place for people to troupe through, and would leave us no privacy to house an animal that was sick or birthing. After visiting the park in Southern Maine we realized it could be all done outside. Our house sets in a half circle starting with the house, the attached barn and ending with the garage attached to the barn. Next to the garage is a area large enough to drive through lined by spruce set on a slope covered with lupines. The perfect entry way to an animal farm, the gift shop would set on the hill that slopes down to the pig pen and continues around with corrals and then pens for birds. The area had trees, the orchard stretched down the hill with stately old apple and crab apple trees, a beautiful view of Mount Katahdin and Mount Chase could be enjoyed from a bench under one of the apple trees, and it would have plenty of lawn once we moved the garden to the other side of the house.

That winter we started planning buildings, the gift shop, the bunny barn, small shelters for the pheasants, bantams, and turkeys would be the big items. The local vocational school would build the buildings if we designed them and provided plans. So we designed a basic plan for the small shelters, with some differences according to the birds being housed. The Bantam house had a drop down door so kids could see if there were eggs in the nests. All the buildings would have cage wire floors that we would install along with roosts, feeders, and nests. The bunny barn was my special project, a set of stairs would be flanked by cages on each side. The upstairs would also house cages, allowing the kids to go up and visit more bunnies. The gift shop building would be patterned after a small barn. All the buildings would be stained red with white trim.

We also planned to give pony cart rides and built a small wagon and proceeded to acquire a small horse, but after finding out what the insurance would be, we put the wagon on display and used the horse for pleasure riding.

We were very busy early in the spring building corrals out from our electric fence about 20 x 20 feet. 5 corrals and a 10 x 10 petting area were built with posts and boards. This also would keep people safely away from the electric fence.

When the first buildings came, we positioned them and started building pens for the birds with netting over head and one inch wire on the sides. The floors of the buildings needed to have wire stapled to them, the nests and roosts had to be built. Two small cages with shelters were built for the Bobwhite Quail, and Chukar Partridge. To finish the Bunny Barn we built 4 cages, one large cage would take up the whole left side, with runs and platforms in three stages for the bunnies to exercise. Two smaller cages would stack on the other side with drop pans under them. The fourth cage would be upstairs, in front of a large window covered with shade cloth, a bunnies-eye view of the Animal Farm.

The gift shop came down in three pieces and was put together one afternoon. Then the inside had to be finished, electricity run to the building and lighting installed. The walls were adorned with pegboard hooks and shelving, and the floor with linoleum. Signs were made for both sides of the gift shop, and a small deck was built on the gift shop to provide a place to do demonstrations of wool/spinning/weaving. The rush to get things done in time to open, found us short of items to put in the shop the first year, so we went with just a few items along with Goldenrod Farm T-shirts and hats.

To finish up, a small pond was dug, close to the wooded area for the ducks and geese. The pond was surrounded by a pen and included a large shelter to close the water fowl in at night, out of predators way. Water was piped under ground for the auto waters in the bunny barn and all the bird pens along with a hose for filling buckets for the corrals.

We opened on a clear day in late July with the local radio station doing their bit with free coke and hot-dogs. Lots of visitors came and so did the rain. About 3pm it was pouring rain and we closed for the day. Our season luckily continued better then it started and we were open weekends and 3 days during the week in the afternoons. Groups and families were given a grand tour where they could ask questions and learn about the animals and birds and then were free to revisit their favorites. The bunny barn and the petting pen full of baby kids were favorites. One young man just about 2 years old refused to leave the kids so Mom and Dad sat under the apple tree for about 2 hours until he was ready.

That fall we invited school groups and learned a lot about having groups. Most were very well behaved and interested in everything. The last group of the season was 75 kids and 30 adults, with only two of us, we were swamped, but it was a good learning experience and the kids sent us great letters.

We started the second season with a Shearing Day, local schools were invited to join us and watch the sheep were lose their winter coats. The shearer Rob Manners did an excellent job teaching about sheep, sheering and trimming hooves to an audience of about 150 people. The gift shop had lots of items "Made in Maine", and a exhibit of fiber from raw wool to skeins of spun and dyed yarn. The new attractions were a mini donkey and a very small pony to give little kids pony rides. This is very popular with all the kids and Grandparents that want to take pictures. We also added a pair of miniature pot belly pigs, mostly for all the little kids that wanted to pet the large pigs but were a little afraid of them. The little pig pen is built in a figure 8 with the middle being a stile, this doubles as the shelter for Rosemary & Thyme. The year was finished out with more school groups in September and October.

The next year we were scrambling to fix the ice storm damage on the fences and building a new pheasant pen that is into the wooded area. We also had plans to start a small veggie garden with labels to teach about another aspect of Homesteading, but in the rush it didn't happen, maybe the next year. We had 14 lambs and 3 calves, just 2 kids. New bantams all Cochins filled the bantam pen, but a bad deal with Blue Seal feed eliminated all our ducks and half of our geese. We added a pair of India blue peafowl to keep the lone peahen company. We opened in June, with longer hours then the previous year, Thursday and Friday from 12 to 4 pm and Saturday & Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm.

We started doing Birthday Parties for kids. Groups can come and open presents, eat cake and punch in the picnic area. Pony rides are available and Giggles the clown will appear if desired. The kids get free admission to the animal farm and feed to entice the critters. A fun and educational alternative to a fast food party.

The next years projects included enlarging Rosemary and Thyme's pen and building a seat around the Maidens Blush apple tree. And, of course, I tried for a garden again. The pen got enlarged but none of the other things happened, good thing projects can be long range.

Last year we acquired a small tractor and fixing it up for the kids to play on, painting it bright colors and putting a real tractor seat on it, the kids loved it! We started a 2 year project to make a small path in the woods thru the back of the pens coming out by the duck pen. An offshoot of the path will go to an old dug well, with a wishing well on it. I want to label trees and flora so it will be an educational walk as well. This spring we will get a chipper in to chip all the brush we cut, the chips will be made into the path. We still have some cleaning up to do in the area, there was a lot of old metal and scrap things from a machine shed that burned about 50 years ago on the site.

The big project for this year is going to be starting to work on a small miniature golf course for kids, after much research I find that it is called crazy golf now. We are going to have a Maine/Farm theme. This year we will fence off the area and deal with leveling and grassing in, next winter we will build the props.

I have plans and a promise of help this year so I think the tree seat will be a reality this year, the cedar is well aged in the barn just waiting for me to get busy.

Admission is $3.00 for adults and $2.00 for kids. Birthday parties will be an option again this year with reservations required one week in advance. It should be a fun filled educational time at Goldenrod Farm this summer. Hope to see you here!

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