"The sleeping pigs. I love the way that they oink when they snore." "The ducks say quack!"
I’m asking a six-year-old and a three-year-old about their recent visit to Heeley City Farm and getting a lot of enthusiasm.
Entertaining your children is always going to be easier when they are in the same place as hundreds of farm animals and a playground. So Heeley City Farm is a great place for tired parents as much as for kids. It’s also far more reasonable than many children-friendly places by being absolutely free to visit. Throw in homemade vegan sausage sandwiches and decent coffee, and you quickly see why it’s one of our favourite places to go with children in Sheffield.
Just a short distance away from busy Queens Road, it’s amazing how the city disappears when you get to this small – but perfectly formed – farm. It’s like a secret. One minute you’re in the city, the next you’re nodding to a row of goats and wondering where the fields and farm buildings came from.
On the way in, you can stand nose to snout with some of the biggest pigs we’ve ever seen and at the right time of year piglets run around and suckle. Then venture towards the play area near the centre of the farm, to discover a wonderful variety of hens scratching for food or perching contentedly. And a lovely big pond in the middle of the farm is home to all manner of ducks.
"What about the rabbits and dragon lizards and birds? The spiders are a bit scary though."
As my six-year-old reminds me, the Small Animals House is an inside area in the farm that features smaller beasties, some of which you’d be surprised to find on a working farm. Exotic animals like chipmunks, lizards and tarantulas make this area a fun retreat, especially on rainy days. At certain times, children can even sit and stroke a guinea pig or a rabbit. Cue photo opportunity!
Adding to the charm of the farm is the fact that all the animals look very happy and well kept. That’s thanks to a whole army of local volunteers and staff looking after them. The team also run the garden centre next door where you can stock up on plants (and bagged manure!) at reasonable prices.
If you’re thinking of paying a visit, you might want to take a look at the farm’s event calendar so you don’t miss out on things like junior chicken keeping courses and kids crafting workshops. But in truth, any day of week is a good time to go.
- Words by
- David Jackson