A trip to the pumpkin patch

by Kamerine A trip to the pumpkin patch is a great fall activity.  My family visits Miller's Farm and Market in Manotick every year.  Miller's is a family-run farm with a personal touch.

Miller's is smaller than some of the other pumpkin patches in the city but it has everything you need for a fantastic visit with great photo ops, hay rides, things for the kids, and, of course, perfect pumpkins.  It was really busy on a beautiful fall day recently when we took the fam.

There are signs for pictures and the challenge is getting one where everyone is looking at the camera.  A difficult task for sure.  My kids aren't the sitting type, but if they were, we'd take them on the popular hay ride.  The highlight, for my kids at least, is an area set up with bundles of hay in a semi circle.  The kids can jump from bale to bale or jump off a bale into the pile of lose hay in the middle.   This would be hours of entertainment if only we'd let them stay.

Miller's sells pumpkins and other squash and fall favourites like corn stalks, mums and cider.  We settled on a medium pumpkin and a little one for each kid.  We let the kids do the choosing and then they rode with the pumpkins to the cash in one of the many wagons available.

If you get a chance, head out to a local pumpkin patch for some fun this fall.  I recommend Miller's.

Kamerine is mom to 3 year old Little J and 1 year old Baby K.  She documents her life with two toddlers, a husband and a cat at followk.blogspot.ca.

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Flashback: Organic Farming

This post was written a couple of years ago, at the tail end of apple picking season. It's another great option for picking your own apples this year. Have you been to Ferme Dagenais? by Misty

We made a recent trip to Ferme Dagenais in Embrun, Ontario, and exprienced a little taste of organic farming. Originally slated as an apple picking adventure, we quickly realized upon arrival that all the apples had been picked. We were given a long pole with metal prongs and a bag attached, and told "you might get some if you work really hard!"


When visiting a local farm, it's best to call ahead, even if you have taken the time to browse their website (many small farms don't even have websites). Pick-your-own produce tends to go fast, and it's disappointing to make a long trip only to come home empty handed.

Fortunately this trip was not a disappointing one, as we discovered many parts of the farm where our little girl could run and explore.


Upon arrival, we were greeted by the sweet dog-in-residence. She followed us around the whole lot, occasionally flopping over for a belly rub.


Next was the chicken coup, where we were greeted by the two lone geese and countless chickens.


The donkey had his say, serenading us with extraordinarily loud "hee-haws." The little one found this hilarious.


In addition to this, there were pasture and barns for goats, cows, and turkeys, and a coop for laying hens. I also noticed a beautiful experimental garden, bee hives and a little cage of rabbits.

Ferme Dagenais is a biodynamic farm - which attempts to balance the interrelationship between soil, plants and animals, while avoiding any external inputs (e.g. artificial fertilizers and pesticides). Although not every product may be certified organic, all things grown and sold from this farm are deemed "natural." When it comes to produce such as apples - one of the "dirty dozen" for their pesticide residues - it's sometimes worth the trip further outside of town.

As a bonus, we spent some time browsing the on-site natural food store "Le Tournesol," run by Osteopath Sylvain Dagenais.

To find out more about Ferme Dagenais, visit their website.

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Summer of Awesome - Saunders Farm

by Lynn

A few days ago we spent the day at Saunders Farm. I wasn't going to bother to write about it, even though it totally won the Most Awesome Award for the Summer of Awesome last year. I'd already written gobs about it, I'd gushed even, and it would all be more of the same.

In fact, we almost didn't go at all, because I thought to myself, sure, it's awesome, but how can it be as good as last year? And we've seen it all, and done it all, so is it just going to be boring this year?

And the answer to that is NO. No, not boring at all.


We get there, and once we get past the awesome climbing structure at the entrance, and take an awesome wagon ride, we enter the main part of the park and we see this:

Jumping things

Those are huge pillow jumpers. They are like enormous trampolines, and oh my lands, are they ever fun. Adults can go on them too, and I got some serious air. Kids can jump, or just sit and go along for the ride. They are AWESOME.

Then we climbed up the big tower to look out over the mazes and saw these:

Pedal cars

Pedal cars! New this year! And they were fun. So much fun. And we didn't even have to wait. And we got to ride them as long as we wanted. AWESOME.

And! Then!

There's another new display area, the Saunders Mine. You can buy a bag of dirt with semi-precious stones in it, then use a constantly running stream to actually sift for your stones. Now, it did cost extra, which always is annoying. And usually I would have said no. But I thought to myself, I can either spend the rest of the day listing to three kids whine the light fantastic about how they totally missed out on the best event ever, or I can just cough up the moola now and become the Best Mom Ever.

Easy choice.

My kids could not get enough of the mine. They love, love, loved finding their own rocks. Then they spent another hour just watching other kids sift, and playing in the stream, and checking other pans for pay dirt. It was AWESOME.

And there's still the mazes, ten in all:

spiral maze

And the splash pad:

splash pad

And the myriad play structures:

Pirate play structure

And the giant slide, and the discovery barn, and the ice cream, and did I mention the jumping things?


My kids declared it to be the Best Day Ever (although truth be told, I've heard that a LOT this summer, which I must say is very gratifying). We were there for five full hours, and we didn't even do everything that was available - not to mention that the kids could have easily spent another hour just jumping. The thing about Saunders Farm is that it's really different from other attractions - and not just different from stuff in Ottawa, but unique in the world. And that's pretty cool.

I do believe that Saunders Farm is going to win the Second Annual Summer Of Awesome, as well.

Lynn is mom to three tombliboos, age 8, 6, and 4, and blogs over at Turtlehead.

Revisited: Sheep Shearing Festival

Now that Kids in the Capital is one we are looking forward to sharing old posts from our archives about some of our favorite events. Don't miss out on the Sheep Shearing Festival at the Canadian Agriculture Museum this May 21-23 and read about Amy's experience there last year!

by Amy

If you're in Ottawa and looking for a great activity to do with your kids this long weekend, head to the Canadian Agriculture Museum. This weekend, they are hosting their annual Sheep Shearing Festival.
And it's SUUUPER fun.
I happened to read about this event several weeks ago, so call ahead and reserved a place for our homeschool group. All in, there were fifty of us! I'm always anxious when I plan something like this that everyone have a good time. I feel responsible.
Luckily, there's no way you could NOT have fun at this event. And since a picture tells a thousand words -and since I might have taken a few hundred pictures yesterday - I'll let them do (most of the) talking.
Did you ever think those huge Clydesdale horses could be cute?? How about now?!!
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you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours
There are several events that are scheduled throughout the day. A sheep herding demonstration, a dog agility competition and the actual sheep shearing. We started with the sheep herding.
sheep dog mosaic I
These dogs really are something else! The shepherd training them does a great job explaining the process and puts several dogs through their paces, both older experienced dogs and younger pups "who like to floss their teeth with wool". And he explains everything in a delightful german (I think) accent that seems to somehow lend credibility to what he's saying. Or so I thought.
sheep dog mosaic II
All the kids we were with -from 14 years old down to 16 months- LOVED it. They had a bit of trouble hearing some of what the shepherd was saying, but were spellbound watching the dogs at work.
sheep dog mosaic III
From there, we walked a short distance to where the agility competition was being held. Just before it started, one of the trainers brought her dog around for the kids to pet. They were smitten. As you can imagine, this event was hugely fun for the kids to watch, and the dogs put on a great show.
dog agility mosaic
Although there are plenty of tables and tents set up inside the museum grounds, our group was too large, so we headed back out to the parking lot and found some nearby shade to sit in while we ate. There is a small (read: VERY small) concession stand there inside the museum, but it looked pretty limited to snack-type food... other than the lemonade (think fair ground lemonade... yum).
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yes, they're all wearing Star Wars shirts
The actual sheep shearing is held every 30 minutes. I was at the tail end of our group, so got there too late to pull out my camera and get pictures of the actual shearing, but here's the end result. I think she said that each sheep produces about 4 lbs of wool (at least that's what I'm going to go with since she's holding up four fingers *grin*) and that all that wool -ALL THAT WOOL- sells for only $1.20.
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You read that right. One dollar and twenty cents. Remind me not to go into sheep farming.
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Don't they look a bit ashamed? Although I'm sure they put up with the humiliation in order to be free of all that hot, scraggly, stinking fleece.
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they are kind of cute
From there, they kids went outside, grabbed a ball of (freshly washed and carded) wool that they were then able to dye their choice of colours. They younger kids just played in the soapy water!
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Scattered throughout the farm, in various buildings, are crafts and hands-on activities for the kids. Just passed the (new and very cool) bee exhibit, the kids got to try their hands at carding wool. Not as easy as it looks for those with still-developping hand-eye coordination, but everyone still enjoyed it. My three-year old (pictured below in the navy) wanted to take his brushes home. While he had to leave them there "for other little kids to use", he did get to take his little ball of soft, clean, freshly carded wool home with him.
wool carding mosaic
Although I only got one picture of this next activity, it was my favourite of the day. The kids each got to pick a colour of wool roving to use to turn into a felt bracelet. Simon chose orange (without only a bit of encouragement from his orange-loving mama), and Liam chose a dark blue/teal colour. Liam is not one to accessorize, so he insists that his is a snake. Simon wore his bracelet for a few hours... then gave it to me. Woohoo!
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The Museum of Agriculture is open from 9am til 5pm, but the sheep shearing activities only run from 10am until 2:30pm. After getting our fill of sheepy, wooly goodness, we stopped by to play on the tractors...
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...and visited the milking barns...
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...where we stopped to ooh and ahh over this little slice of adorable...

sheep shearing-58 the Jersey... my favourite of all the cows

...and a final play at the park before taking our gang of fun-filled, sun-kissed (note, wear sunscreen since it's almost all outside), slightly tired and cranky kids home.
And I saved the best for last... pictures of some of the new baby lambs that were out walking around the farm. SO. STINKING. CUTE.
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So cute and so soft. Baby hands are just drawn to them. Adult hands too. Getting up close and personal with these sweet, snowy, fleece babes is alone worth the price of admission!
The Sheep Shearing Festival runs all weekend, including the holiday Monday. If you go, come back and leave a comment and tell us what you thought.
Amy is the homeschooling, photographing mom of 7 year old Liam, 3 1/2 year old Simon, and 16 month old Andrew. She blogs at Muddy Boots and her photography can be found at Muddy Boots Photo.

A Very Good Day at the Agriculture Museum

by Natasha The Canada Agriculture Museum is a fantastic place to take your kids on a holiday weekend, like I did at Easter. The Museum has many activities planned for busy family-oriented weekends. There may be a line-up to get inside, but it’s really worth the wait.

My family and I stood in line for half an hour before getting inside for the 11 o’clock set of activities, but once in we were very happy to have ignored the size of the lineup and persevered anyway. The Easter bunny that walked up and down along the lineup was a really good distraction for some of the fussy kids, and the staff were very accommodating and quick at getting everyone in with the least amount of hassle.

Those with memberships for the Museum don’t have to wait in line at all, so it may be worth looking into if you’re a regular at the Museum.

The tour started with us meeting the new baby rabbits. There are specific times during the day where staff members bring out the bunnies for the children to see. We met a tiny and fluffy six-week lion head bunny, and Baby H was absolutely mesmerized.

After the bunny meet, we headed towards the dairy barn to see the cows. Last year, when Baby H first saw large cows, he got really scared. This year, he was very interested in the creatures and spent some time watching them eat and drink. He walked around the barn, saying “Moo” to every passerby and eventually ended up seeing the new calves that were just born.

Our next stop was the tractor exhibit. We saw different and old models, and sat in the John Deere simulator tractor. I think there’s a future for Baby H in farming, as he was very happy with his Grandpa in the simulator swaying back and forth and pretending to drive it around. Baby H had a giant smile the entire time he was fake-driving and was very happy for the duration of the visit.

Baby H made some more tiny furry friends when he spend some time watching little chicks that were waddling back and forth in their cages. There was an entire process in the Museum showing children the egg hatching process, with some of the older kids designing their own eggs and some colouring pictures of chicks.

The Easter bunny that kept us company at the lineup was walking around the farm handing out chocolates to attendees. Baby H participated in the Easter Egg Hunt, and traded in some colourful eggs for special chocolate treats.

And finally, a quick visit to the demonstration kitchen showed us how the delicious hot cross buns are made. We couldn't pass this up, as the buns are one of my family’s favourite treats.

If you’re looking for a fun outing with your family on a holiday or long weekend, head over to the Canada Agriculture Museum and brave the lineups for some of their special events and activities, and put Easter at the Farm on your to do list for next year! Your children will definitely enjoy their time there.

Natasha is a new mommy to her first born, Baby H. She runs ShopHaven, a blog that reviews products and profiles local businesses and individuals from the Ottawa area. Natasha is also the creative force behind ShopHaven Baskets; a highly customized gift baskets service.