ellaslist Experiences Farm Life At Calmsley Hill
By: Marie Ashworth, ellaslist
After hearing about how much fun they’d had, Calmsley Hill Farm had been on my must-visit list for weeks. I knew our 3 year old tractor-obsessed, animal fanatic would love it. So off we went to experience our day on the farm and to meet Noah, the multi-tasking Farm Manager, to find out more about the inside operations of a working farm.
Engaging, Fun & Hands-On
Kids are innately curious and hungry to learn but it needs to be fun. Calmsley Hill Farm does it beautifully. This is not your average ‘observe-from-a-distance’ farm attraction. Master E and friend, Miss E, bounded from one animal enclosure to another, listened intently to the super-friendly staff as they shared interesting facts about the farm residents and got involved with the packed program of activities and shows.
Cow Milking, Tractor Rides & More
This place offers a unique ‘farmer for the day’ experience for kids of all ages. The shows, including working dog displays, sheep shearing and stock whipping gave us ’townies’ a rare glimpse into what running a farm really involves, plus there were lots of hands-on activities for kids (and big kids!) to try our hand at such as milking a cow and feeding the cute animals in the nursery.
Not Just For Show
Maybe its because Calmsley Hill is a working farm not just a tourist attraction that makes it such an enjoyable and authentic family farm experience. When we arrived at reception, Noah Moseley, the Farm Manager was busy in the fields fixing up irrigation! I was keen to find more about how he juggles welcoming over 100,000 visitors a year with running a 180-hectare working farm. So I managed to steal some time with this busy, multi-tasking man who can!
ellaslist: Is the working farm important to the success of Calmsley Hill?
Noah: Really important! It ensures that we have a steady supply of young farm animals; lambs, calves, kid goats plus all the small animals like bunnies, chicks and ducklings. Then there’s the constant buzz of activity with farmers working in the paddocks checking stock and fence lines or replacing fencing. Plus seeing volumes of stock grazing adds a great feel.
Can you tell us more about your farm stock?
Our main stock has been sheep but over the last couple of years I have been increasing our cattle. A timely move … since purchasing a starter mob of Black Angus two years ago we have seen their value at least triple. Last year I sold all our ageing sheep and purchased 200 young ewes. Ideally I like to hold 350-400 but took heed of the hot dry summer forecast (which means low volumes of ground feed). As it turned out we had heaps of rain and I could have supported a lot more. So, if anyone has 150-200 sub 1 year First Cross ewes in wool give me a buzz and we can have a chat! Along with the sheep and cattle we also have small mobs of sows (pigs) and a boar which brings us more than 100 piglets a year.
Who works at the farm?
We employ 35 people at the farm. They fall into three teams; Customer Service, Tour Guides and Operations (animal care and farming). Our staff tend to stay here for a long time. I’ve been here five years and I’m still the ‘new guy’.
Tell us more about your animals?
Along with all the farm animals, we have a great selection of native animals including koalas, wombats, kangaroos, emus and heaps of birds. Then there’s our range of introduced species; a camel, a donkey, alpacas and red foxes. The vast majority of our animals get let out every night to open graze in the paddocks and we supplement their diet with speciality feeds to ensure they are all healthy and stress free.
Which demand the most attention?
The highest maintenance animals are the pigs for sure. They’re smart , they’re strong and can be very destructive to fences, dams and their display enclosures. They certainly test my fencing and welding skills on a daily basis!
What’s a typical day like for you?
There’s no such thing as a normal day! I just come in with an open mind and take it as it comes. My role encompasses everything from Budgets, Marketing, HR and Sales to building new enclosures or fixing mechanical equipment. One thing’s for sure, if I wear a new pair of jeans and my good RM Williams boots, I’ll be up to my knees in mud by morning tea time. But I love it and would not have it any other way!
ellaslist Top Tips
- I used Google maps to navigate us from Sydney to the farm. Unfortunately I lost mobile phone reception about 5 minutes from the farm and didn’t realise it was signposted by its former name (Fairlight City Farm – Noah is in the lengthy process of getting new signage).
- Make sure you arrive in time for the first show of the day (10.30am Animal Patting in the Farm Nursery) and if possible give yourself the whole day to enjoy the farm (last show at 3.30pm).
- Staff at reception give you a map and daily show times but if you’re busy racing after a toddler, listen out for the loudspeaker system announcing the time and place of the next show.
- There are picnic tables dotted around the farm if you take your own lunch or snacks, or the Farm House Cafe offers a good selection of burgers, sandwiches and a mean chips & gravy!