“A petting farm with a little bit extra”
Going to Friends Farm was definitely an experience worth doing. It’s a one to one chance at just getting to be around goats, animals and nature, and it get you away from the stresses of everyday life.
With a background in having worked at a petting farm before, Alex (the man behind Friends Farm) took the opportunity to facilitate using some land his family owned to earn some money. While working at the petting farm he did start to favour certain animals. “The thing I took a shine to was the goats, we had some dairy goats there that we’d milk and we did a demonstration with the children. And I thought this ain’t too hard.”
Getting two goats from North Wales was where they started, originally hoping to go down the dairy route. However, after realising that to do that it would require breeding and having kids continuously be born there was a moral dilemma. “You have two choices with that, rehome the kids or send them to slaughter houses. I quickly realised that I didn’t want to do that.” But Alex decided that it wasn’t a sustainable plan.
“I really wanted them to be pets.”
While looking at the options, Alex realised he could go back to where he started with the petting farm. So he started the goat walk. Do petting, do introductions, let guests feed them and learn them by name while going out on a walk with the them. “They’re a social thing, people come here because they haven’t spent time around goats and it’s a new experience.”
From a mental health perspective Alex talked about how the goats give back. “They can tell the difference between a happy face and an angry face and they will go to the happy face. They’re very emotionally intelligent.” The goats loved the attention while walking around the fields with them. “Being with them doing their thing is quite a meditative experience.” Going out there and experiencing them in their surroundings is an amazing feeling of getting to just be quite peaceful and at the same time around life. “You realise wow, goats get lost in something as simple as eating that’s all they need, being with them doing that is kind of nice. Kind of shut your brain off a bit, nothing thinking of anything more complicated than that.”
Admittedly Alex finds it quite surprising just how happy people can finish the goat walk compared to how they finish. “Sometimes you can tell with families there’s been a struggle getting kids in the car or getting here and by the end they’re just in a better mood. Everyone has a little story to tell about one of the goats.”
With £20 a person, it might seem a bit steep in price. But I can guarantee that it’s worth it. It’s a one to one experience and is certainly something that you don’t get to experience when you visit other petting farms or zoos.
Moving forward Alex did mention actually having the goats officially licensed as therapy animals to “hopefully take them around nursing homes, take them where people are struggling-maybe universities.”
“More people should appreciate chickens.”
Having chickens already, Alex said he’d like to bring the chickens more into the experience because they also have a lot to offer in terms of animal experiences. Being able to just hold a chicken and feed them.
On top of all this, Friends Farm has a shop and café that is open to buy things on Fridays. They have soap, honey, candles, pottery, art, etc. All reasonably priced and just so perfect as a souvenir. Not to mention there is art classes available with Alex’s mum, Sue, Tuesdays-Thursdays.
Find their Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/friends_farm_swanwick/?hl=en
Book for your own goat walk here – https://www.airbnb.co.uk/experiences/2778423?checkin=2021-12-14&location=swanwick¤tTab=experience_tab&federatedSearchId=e7908ef6-e156-4b36-a0b8-7feb3bdaf5c2&searchId=§ionId=3c68ad9f-cf48-468b-b79c-26f42b9dd000&source=p2