Last weekend we drove out to Sonoma County for a fall Weekend Along the Farm Trails.
Sonoma County, famous for vineyards, is a bountiful agricultural area with family farms and artisanal producers. On Sonoma County Farm Trails, kids can visit local farms, see farmyard animals, pick apples and pumpkins, and sample locally made food.
It’s the perfect activity for toddlers and younger kids, who’ll have fun watching live chickens running around and pigs playing in the mud, taking a tractor hay ride, or petting pygmy goats.
Our first stop was Tara Firma Farms, situated down a country road near Petaluma. It was just so peaceful, a breeze ruffling the cattails in a pond, sounds of chickens clucking as they ran around in a pasture beyond the barn.
In one pen, little red piggies munched on food, then ran over to get a drink of water, excitedly oinking. It was a warm, sunny day, so the little pigs had a fun time cooling off in the mud. All the pigs had a twirly, curly tail (curly tails are real, not just in piggie stories).
Our absolute favorite animals were two pygmy goats, named Nutmeg and Cocoa. Nutmeg and Cocoa are inseparable, and love to be petted. Nutmeg and Cocoa went for a walk in the yard, munched on blackberry bushes, and then we spent plenty of time stroking their soft fur. Nutmeg and Cocoa are adorable for kids and parents alike!
After a delicious lunch of hamburgers made with ground beef from their grass-fed cows, local tomatoes and lettuce, and coleslaw, we stopped into the Tara Firma farm store to buy eggs, just collected this morning – that’s a fresh egg.
After lunch, it was time for dessert at the Petaluma Pie Company in downtown Petaluma. Their pies are made from local fruits, such as apples, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines, and also cream pies with strawberries. Pie is also great with a dollop of ice cream from the Sonoma Strauss Family Creamery.
At McClelland’s Dairy we saw big black and white dairy cows, fluffy baby chicks, baby goats nestled together sleeping, and a white donkey mom with her brown foal. Kids could also have fun playing in the corn pit (filled with corn kernels), hay maze, and driving toy tractors around. Pick pumpkins from the pumpkin patch, and take home a mini-pumpkin from the colorful pile of pumpkins. We bought a crock of organic butter, made from their dairy cows.
The next morning, on our way to an apple orchard outside of Sebastopol, we visited the Bohemian Creamery. They make and sell cheese made from goats, sheep, cow, and water buffalo milk. Most fun to try – a refreshing drink made from whey, flavored with ginger, lemon and honey, and soft serve frozen goat yogurt.
Ratzlaff Ranch is a u-pick apple orchard, open daily in September and October. The ranch provides everything you need for picking Golden Delicious and Rome Beauty apples – a basket-shaped apple picker (very fun for kids), bag to sling over your shoulder, and boxes for picked apples. Pick as much as the kids feel like, price is per pound.
We arrived at Green Star Farm in time for an excellent lunch of freshly-made sandwiches, cold drinks, chocolate chip cookies. On the large farm, goats rested in the shade or wandered across the grass to an artificial pond, two goats had very long beards, and miniature donkeys wiggled their ears at us.
Something we’d never seen before – “mobile chicken coops” out in the pasture. Eggs from pasture-raised chickens are very tasty, and we discovered the way they transport chickens around is chicken coops on wheels. The coop is pulled into the pasture, the farmer open the door, chickens hop down and run around.
Tips for Sonoma County Farm Trails
Bring a cooler so you can buy fresh eggs and other food from the farm stands.
Wear closed toed shoes – it’s dusty and fields may have animal poop on the ground.
Some farms are only open for Sonoma Farm Trails, or by appointment, such as Green Star Farm and McClelland Dairy. Bohemian Creamery is open on weekends, Ratzlaff Ranch daily Sept. and October. Tara Firms Farms is open daily, Petaluma Pie Company has regular hours.
Sonoma County Farm Trails has seasonal events in fall and spring. Check the website for dates.