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McClelland's Pumpkin Patch
6475 Bodega Ave., Petaluma
Reviewed 10/06/12 by Hauntmistress
In October, McClelland's Dairy morphs into McClelland's Pumpkin Patch every weekend. We had our first visit there this year and it was well worth the drive.
When you arrive, you drive down a long driveway that borders a three acre field of pumpkins, squash, and gourds. It’s fun to hunt through the vines for the perfect one. No tools needed if you follow the instructions the farm has posted (basically, step on the vine and twist the pumpkin off). Don’t forget to grab a wheelbarrow before heading into the field.
Adjacent to the patch is another big field, this one filled with fun stuff to do – all free. There is a medium-sized hay maze for kids, a grain pit where kids can sink into the grain like quicksand, a mini jump house, picnic tables, and, best of all, a petting zoo.
In the petting zoo you’ll find a little soft bunny named Molly, fluffy baby chicks, three goats, and three 1-2 month-old dairy cows. The white calf is a Holstein named Jazzy, and the brown one is a Jersey. We spent a long time watching the animals, and it was particularly amusing to watch the cows get feisty.
Monitoring the petting zoo on the day we visited was a very helpful and friendly young lady who talked about the animals and cautioned little ones to be careful of the goats. Apparently, earlier in the day a kid had chased the goats around and riled them all up, making the goats extra skittish.
Overlooking the play area is a Farm Store where you can sample and purchase European Style Organic Artisan butter, and buy drinks, snacks, and pumpkin carving kits. There is also a window into the cow milking area where you can look at the cows that have just been milked. It seemed like the cows liked looking at us through the glass as much as we liked looking at them.
Speaking of milking, the Parlor Viewing Room is open from 1 pm-6 pm and you can "watch the girls being milked." The dairy milks 950 cows twice a day (1 am-10 am and 1 pm-10 pm), 24 cows at a time using vacuum pulsation (i.e., the milk is squeezed out, not sucked out). The milk goes through flow meter and the vacuum pulsation automatically turns off when cow's milk production slows down. After milking, an iodine solution is applied to the cows so no bacteria get in when the cows go back into the field.
If you take the Farm Tour you’ll get to travel around the farm for an hour and a half and see how it works and learn its history. But best of all, you can see how the animals are cared for, pet the babies in nursery, and milk a cow by hand. The tours are at 11:30 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm and are $15 for adults and $7 for kids. Visa and MasterCard are accepted on the farm.
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