Yesterday morning, the girls and I drove out to visit the Swan Valley Cuddly Animal Farm. The weather has been absolute heaven this week, Thursday was our one day without playdate plans (whew!), so off we went! Both girls love it there! Ellie was hooked from our first visit a year ago, but now baby Stephanie is old enough to enjoy it too. Ellie still makes a beeline for the baby animals indoors. Those are the smallest (mainly chicks, baby rabbits and baby guinea pigs), so she can cuddle them in her lap to her dear-sweet-nurturer's-heart's content. She has always been incredibly gentle and careful with the animal babies, and it is so beautiful to watch. By comparison, it's all the more frustrating to watch other kids be so rough with them. The babies seem to understand how loving Ellie is, and they settle down peacefully in her lap. It is so sweet.
It is still school holidays, so it wasn't long before the animal farm was overrun. We arrived before opening time, but Farmer Lin let us in early. That gave us some lovely time with the baby animals before the crowds took over. After a while, I tore Ellie away from the indoor portion to allow Stephanie to explore her favorites, the larger animals outside. She is so excited by the cows, the sheep, the goats and all their respective babies. There were several new goat kids (very tiny!) that enraptured both girls, so we went in the pen. As soon as we did, they surrounded us, nibbling gently and hoping for a bottle. This led to great excitement and not a little fear in my own kids, who both clung to me with incredible strength and alas, prevented any photo ops.
Despite the increasing crowds, Ellie dragged us back inside to visit the small babies again before we called it a day. It was so packed with people that we could barely make our way inside, and the baby animals were looking mightily harassed. I lifted out one last chick for Ellie to cuddle, and in our hands, it calmed down immediately...so much so that it didn't want to go back in the pen. When I opened my hands to place him back, he walked up my arm and snuggled down in the crook of my elbow. It was so cute that I let him stay for a while, but we needed to go so I straightened my arm to get him...and he waddled up to my shoulder and snuggled against my neck. Ellie snapped a photo for me.
Back outside, we tried to have a little lunch picnic before getting back into the car. Unfortunately, a huge tom turkey wanted to join our party. Baby Stephanie started shaking like a leaf at his approach, her little heart racing. She seemed to be debating just how little she liked him until he got right next to her and let out a loud "gobble gobble gobble" to seal the deal. She started wailing, Ellie clung tightly to my other arm, and it was time to go!