Last year we held a birthday party in our house to mark the babog turning one. It had been a long year. We’d gone through a lot in those months. Nothing bad had happened – there’d been no crises – and we were lucky to have a beautiful happy little girl. It was the shock of becoming parents and having survived it that I wanted to mark. That party was pretty much – thank jesus we got through that and thank you family for helping us along the way.
As with all functions you hold in your house, there’s a huge of amount of preparation and cleaning and hosting that is altogether exhausting. So I knew, as we closed the door and waved goodbye to our guests on birthday number one, that for the birthday number two, there would be no party at home.
We thought we’d go to the zoo instead. It’s an August birthday, she’s pretty into animals and a PR event I’d seen put it into my mind. Then the laziness hit and grey skies the God of Thunder would have been proud of. Traipsing round peering at Savannah animals in an Irish downpour kind of lost its appeal. So we looked closer to home and came up with Newgrange Farm. We will do the zoo, next year, when she’s older and can appreciate it more.
Newgrange Farm is located just off the Slane Road, outside Drogheda and near to Dowth. It took us about 15 minutes to drive there outside Drogheda – just make sure you watch out for the left hand turn about a kilometre from Dolly Mitchell’s pub.
We were really excited about bringing the babog. She knows all the animal sounds – she doesn’t do words – but sounds are good; snort (pig) baa (sheep – but she does it real dead pan, no vibrato at all) (amateur) moo- (again, a deadpan cow) click click (horse’s hooves) woof (dog) and rarrrrrrrr (tiger and dinosaur). She doesn’t do miaow. She just laughs instead – for some reason it cracks her up.
We paid €7 entry each for myself, my husband, and August’s older sister Abbie, who’s 13. August herself went free. We thought €21 was a really reasonable price – there were no extra costs when you got in and as we discussed on the way round -you’d pay a tenner into a nightclub. “And you’d see just as many animal there.” Quote – himself.
The farm is laid out in a small enough area – which is great when you’ve a toddler and don’t want to walking for miles. (Or you know, pregnant). The first part takes in a courtyard with stables, where there are small animals for petting and holding. We started off with the lambs (who were more almost fully grown now at four months, but still took the bottle me like me on the Miller on a Saturday night).
The cows were so beautiful, they came right out to us and let us rub their velvety heads and even gave us a look at their black snake tongues. All the guilt as I thought about the home made burgers we were planning for tea.
In the next stables we saw puppies, two half grown cats and rabbits. Our daughter was happy just to look as she’d developed a fear after one of the sheep went BAA in her face. Do you know how loud the wool makers can be?
We thought the ducks might calm her down but she wasn’t really having any of it, as we planted a gorgeous yellow duckling in her lap. Look at her face. Having none of it.
The husband was rather more impressed by the duckling. The girl on hand showed us the egg incubator and said a whole new batch of ducklings were due on the maternity quack ward in about a week. She was super friendly and able to answer any questions we had about the animals and how it all worked on the farm. I thought this was a really nice touch, especially for older kids who might be curious about things. (As opposed to terrified, like our toddler).
The pigs sent her over the edge. Where was the cute and clean Peppa she knows so well? What was this pig sty stink? What were these snorting, snuffling animals doing sleeping and looking so bloody massive? She clung to me like a flea to a dog but we still managed to have a snort off, which I’m sure the hogs appreciated. We speaka the lingo.
After peering in at the horse (again, massive, she was afraid) we headed round to the second part of the farm where all the fowl are housed. A large bread bin was available and you could feed the ducks and hens and turkeys. She loved this, especially when all the ducks ran and quacked at her. We could access some of the pens further down and give out grain, which was a nice touch as it meant you could get up close, which is what the farm is all about.
The third part of the farm were the open fields where the goats, sheep, donkeys and shaggy looking cows lived. It was nice to get out into the open and enjoy the Boyne Valley scenery. We had some bread left over from the ducks so we fed it to the goats – even though that’s probably not allowed. Have you ever seen a goat’s eye? It has square slits for pupils. Weird!
After the animals we entered into the last two parts of the farm – the large sand pit area and the indoor play area which has tractors and trailors, a straw maze, pedal go-carts and a fake cow you could milk which my husband seemed to have a talent for.
We spent ages in here and had the craic. August really enjoyed running around the maze and I even had a go on the go-carts, taking advantage before the bump really comes in.
After our visit was over we headed to the coffee shop and had home-made scones and tea. As the grounds aren’t too big, the visit didn’t take too long and there was no grumpiness or tears – from the adults or the children. As a family day out, with smallies, this is a great way to educate about animals and what being on a farm is really like. We loved all the interactivity and the thought that had been put into the play areas. The farm is open since the last 80s, so part of it did feel a bit older, but it’s clean, well-maintained and we found the staff super friendly and ready to help.
A much better alternative than a hoard of screaming kids at home. Definitely.
Have you ever been to Newgrange Farm? Let us know below.