A day at Young's Jersey Dairy

I had heard about Young's for years, but never made it out to the Springfield-area Jersey farm until this weekend. My partner in crime, Mo, wanted to do something pumpkiny and we kept finding out that the places we wanted to go were not U-pick. We really wanted to pick our own and do the whole wagon ride experience, because...I can get a pumpkin myself from a grocery store. This weekend was their 39th annual Fall Farm Festival.

One shattered phone screen, 34 minutes of carseat wrangling (3-wide, folks! That is no freaking joke!), and coffee in hand, we headed out. Leaving from UA, it did not take us long to get there at all. We pulled into the farm less than an hour later. I would highly recommend going as early as you can. The activities for the festival did not start until 11:00, but we got in some of the regular farm sights before all of that and got a killer parking space. The farm opens at 7:00, so you can get there to see the animals, play in the pumpkin patch, get some snacks (or breakfast ice cream?) and buy your tickets for everything you will do for the day. By 12:00, the shop was swamped and the lines were long.

The kids loved playing on the tractors and running down the aisles of pumpkins.

 this kids loves balls. So, he thought this field of them was amazing.

You can buy a handful of goat feed for 25 cents or a huge cup of it for 2.50. We went with the huge cups and then a rowdy goat swiped and guzzled it. Oops.

sharing with her brother is so stressful

I loved going inside the animal barn. We were watching the cows outside when suddenly they all ran in for feeding time. It was nice to get there before others so we could get some fun 1-1 time with the animals.

The wagon ride out to the pumpkin patch is actually free, but you pay $8 per pumpkin. To save a little cash, next time we will pick out one "family" pumpkin from the patch and enjoy the ride.  As you can tell, the little wagons were a hit. Getting our picture taken in one was not.

The Kiddie Corral was my favorite part because I love any area that corrals my kids so they are safely in one spot. It cost $6 for Larkyn to play on everything there and unlimited rides on the barrel train ("Moover and Shaker"). The Corral had all the items that Larkyn especially loves; small bouncy house, corn bin, slides, putt putt, and ride-on toys. Rhys was really into the ride-on toys, and Santa may have to find these little tractors somewhere. The Kiddie Corral is a regular feature, not just a Fall Fest activity.

Close to the Kiddie Corral, I noticed a birthday party set up. This place would be an AMAZING birthday venue. If only my kids' birthdays weren't during freezing temperatures.

Because our kids are little and it was starting to get crowded, we skipped several activities so that we wouldn't miss out on food. Another time and when the kids are older, there is a giant slide, batting cages, full putt putt course, and a corn maze. Now, to the food!

All I have wanted since the calendar turned to October is a pumpkin donut. It happened.

There was no way we were waiting in the mile-long ice cream shop line, but they were awesome enough to sell little pints outside of the store with almost no line. There were also burgers, BBQ, cheese curds, and incredible apple dumplings a la mode, and pretty caramel apples. The curds were way too much for me, but those donuts. They were freshly made in front of us and warm in the bag.

I would go out to Young's again. Next time, I'd get there at 10:00 and buy all our tickets. We wouldn't pay for two U-picks, we would pack a picnic (there are tons of tables) and then treat ourselves to all the amazing desserts. There is a long list of special events throughout the year, so you should check it out even if you missed the Fall Fest.

Young's Jersey Dairy
6880 Springfield-Xenia Road
Yellow Springs, OH 45387
(937) 325-0629

Favorite Apple Recipes

As far as produce goes, apple season is my favorite. They are so versatile, and I love the abundance of EASY apple recipes out there. I have gathered our favorites that are perfect for baking on a chilly day or serving at the next tailgate. And, most of these are not my photos because I don't take photos of every recipe I try (the horror!)

via: momendeavors.com
I don't usually make this large of a serving, because you can easily cut the ratio down to make a small container to secretly keep in the fridge and eat when your children aren't around. 

via: bhg.com
This page in my BHG cookbook is falling out because I have made this so many times. We also love it with peaches and a handful of blueberries. Make sure the butter is COLD to get crumbs.

via: thecountrycook.com
This one is perfect for the kids to help with...just roll the ingredients up in a crescent roll and bake. I cut the sugar down to 1/2 cup and it was still sweet enough (tastes like monkey bread to me!)

Harvest Apple Salad
Spinach + crunchy apple + bacon + pecans + feta + dried cherries +Poppyseed dressing 
is one of the only salads I eat, so it must be good!

via: allrecipes.com
My mom always made this when it was my turn to bring in a snack for Girl Scouts. Gah! It is so good.

A Visit to Stratford Ecological Center

Have you ever wanted to take the kids (or yourself?) to "the farm"?  If you live in Columbus, Stratford  is your opportunity, and I highly recommend you visit and bring your camera.

I have been taking students to Stratford for many years, and it is always the best day of the year. This is a working (meaning not a petting zoo) farm and their mission is to educate children and adults on the relationship between living things and their environment. There is so much to see that you could certainly make a day out of it. There are kid-friendly trails through the woods, a barn (usually holding pigs and/or sheep), a greenhouse, a chicken yard/orchard, fields with cows, llamas, and goats, and a fishing pond. And in between each, you'll see farm equipment and lots of cats (which are always the favorite...go figure). There is a covered picnic area with tables and a huge grassy area for picnicking.

Over the weekend, we gathered for our first meet up to try the Stratford Harvest Fair. The purpose was to get parents and children to try something new, and I think everyone loved it! Check it out...

You don't have to wait until the next Harvest Fair to discover Stratford. You can go any time and explore on your own. There are also counter opportunities, kids' camps and story times. And Gabby's Place is just down the hill if you'd rather try some of their famous stromboli instead of packing your lunch. Enjoy!

 A little background music outside the education center

 I picked some fabric and my mom made these cute little bandanas for the kids who joined us. I was shocked that they all kept them on, although Larkyn's did get a little Pope-ish in the wind.
 He's saying "Yayyyyyyy"
 Unsure what to think = hands immediately in mouth
 I loved this area! We should bring straw bales everywhere to contain our children.
 Getting to pet the feisty llamas. Remember each animal at Stratford works and has a purpose. The llama protects the sheep from coyotes. You're welcome.
 My new favorite thing at recent festivals? Local library branches setting up a reading area. This was the Delaware branch. 
 Zinnias for days
 Oh hey, my little dirty faced farmer
 What's this? We can collect our own eggs and package them? Let's do it!
 Check out this swanky rain barrel!
 Ah ha. The hen boxes...
 Um. What?
 The greenhouse was bursting with vegetables like peppers and okra.
 She just pile-drived him from that bale. It was so thoughtful of Stratford to have a photo booth!
 Whatcha got there? Rocks? Oh, you eat those too? #soulmates #spiritanimal
 Must...pick up...every...rock...in existence...
 The day she stops noticing and picking "wish flowers" will be a sad one.
 We didn't actually do the tractor ride, but it looked like everyone enjoyed it!
 Larkyn is terrified of sheep and then wants one as a pet literally 2 minutes later. This is a chronic problem.
 Here. Eat the straw. 
(This is a giant straw caterpillar that is so fun for the kids to climb and run on)
 Yeah. That just happened. 
(The bubble station was a favorite)
 A bean box in a teepee. Childhood perfection.

Nothing cuter than a kid with a kite.
 They had a blast stamping art with vegetables with The Arts Castle. I hope you looked at that link. It is a REAL castle in Delaware. Sweet!
Some of the products they make and sell at Stratford. There was TONS of honey and there are Apiary programs at Stratford if you are interested in bees. 

My kids love any adventure where they can run around, throw things, eat things, and see animals. I think Rhys could work here in about 15 years. We didn't even get to the pond or trails and had a FULL day. Let me know if you try it out one day!
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