Since moving to Mountain View, I've heard many people rave about the beautiful Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve. I have been told that the 24 miles of trails are a great place to exercise.
But most of the moms that tell me about Rancho San Antonio, while I chase my children around the park, are raving about Deer Hollow Farm. The 150 year-old farm is located within Rancho San Antonio and has been educating the public for years.
When I checked out Deer Hollow Farm's website, I saw there was a Spooky Times Halloween Celebration on the Saturday before Halloween. It seemed like the perfect way to explore Rancho San Antonio, visit Deer Hollow Farm and celebrate Halloween with my children in a fun, new way.
Fortunately, I was warned that the farm was a 1 mile walk from the parking lot. We avoided major melt downs by bringing the double stroller and wearing walking shoes.
The walk to the farm seemed long and a bit uncertain. 'Was there really a farm back here?' I kept wondering. But we confidently followed other parents pushing strollers with costume clad kids.
On the walk, my children were full of questions.
"Will there be a bouncy house?" Josie asked.
"Will there be facepainting?" Owen asked.
"The only thing I know for certain," I responded, "is that there will be animals." I wasn't just being evasive. I honestly didn't know. When we finally arrived at the farm, we were all pleasantly surprised.
The cost for all four of us to get in was $24, it seemed like a lot, but all the proceeds go directly to feeding and caring for the animals. Once you go in and meet the sweet and well cared for animals, it makes the entrance fee seem more worthwhile.
I have to admit, I am not an animal person, but you can't help but fall in love with Luna the cow and her calf, Dahlia. The goats and the sheep are playful and approachable. The pigs are endearing and enormous. One of the benefits of going to Deer Hollow Farm for their Spooky Times is that you get to see the animals up close and personal.
The staff and volunteers, all dressed in costumes, helped our children pet the animals and talked about how they care for them. It's so different from commonplace petting zoos, even my children took notice, saying. "these are the most happy animals ever."
There were a few different craft and activity tables throughout the farm from decorating trick or treat bags with homemade potato stamps to making spooky masks with feathers and paper plates. It was extremely simple and extremely refreshing; my children completely forgot about bouncy houses and face painting.
We stayed for over an hour and then started the leisurely walk to our car. On the way back, we took more time to enjoy the beautiful nature along the way. My children were in awe of the giant tree and squealed when they spotted turkeys hiding in bushes.
The only question my children asked on the way home was, "when can we come back?” Josie wants to bring her bike and Owen wants to visit his new best friends, the goats.
Before answering, I considered how close Rancho San Antonio was to our house, how nice it felt to walk a couple miles in the morning, and how much my children enjoyed the simple and natural experience. The answer was easy. “Very soon,” I said and the backseat erupted in cheers.