Hands-on farm compares to Noah’s Ark with more than 300 animals
|Uncle Donald’s Farm of Lady Lake, Fla., is located at 2713 Griffin Ave. The farm is open year round Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The farm is also open on Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. in February, March and April. For more information or a complete list of annual events, call (352) 753-2882, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to www.uncledonaldsfarm.com.
Sure everyone has seen farm animals from the road, but few can say they experienced holding a baby goat while it suckles from a bottle or taking a hay ride to feed a herd of cows. The chance to perform these typical farm chores draws each year thousands of visiting school children and families to Uncle Donald’s Farm of Lade Lake, Fla.
“Someone once told me our farm is like a 4-H project gone wild and that pretty much describes it,” said Donna Morris, who along with other members of the Morris family operate the 50-acre farm featuring more than 300 animals.
Admission to the farm is $10.50 for adults and $9.50 for children and seniors, and includes a complete farm tour, hay ride and animal feed. While this family attraction houses the classic farm animals, such as chickens, horses, cows, goats and pigs, its wildlife rescue of injured, unwanted or orphaned animals is equally impressive. From deer to foxes, the refuge features a variety of exotic and native Florida species.
While this farm’s scores of animals resemble a zoo, this operation is much more hands on. On a sunny afternoon, an odd scene unfolds as a group of children laugh and giggle as they assist the farmhands with daily chores. While the children learn the intricacies of caring for a baby goat, tour guides talk extemporaneously about farm life and the agriculture industry.
“We try to make it educational as well as fun,” Morris said. “It’s an interesting lesson trying to get kids to understand eggs don’t come from Styrofoam containers.”
As farmhands show the gathered flock of children the difference between white, brown and green eggs, Morris explains to several accompanying adults the farm’s heritage breeds of chickens.
“If you like animals it’s a great place to come,” Morris said. “We have several sections where people can just walk through and look at the animals, like the poultry patch.”
After a day full of chores, families and school groups often enjoy a sack lunch at the farm’s picnic area. The shaded courtyard is also home to birthday parties and annual events sponsored by Uncle Donald’s Farm.
On the Fourth of July, the farm hosts the annual patriotic “Parade of Animals.” Children decorate animals with hats, bandanas and pompoms and then lead them in a parade around the barnyard. For a ghastly Halloween treat, Uncle Donald’s Farm hosts family-friendly activities such as creepy crawly barn full of reptiles and a nighttime “walk on the wild side” through the wildlife refuge.