The Hurst Farm Hayrides take place on weekends in October. Please note that this post was written in 2014, and while it should still give you a great idea of the overall experience, it’s possible that it may also contain some outdated information. Please call Hurst Farm at (860) 646-6536 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org for the most up-to-date information.
Quick. When I say “hayride” what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? I’m going to wager that it’s not turnip-picking. Am I right?
Well, you are in for a treat today because let me tell you, I have found a true hayride adventure.
Okay well, technically, I didn’t find it. We’ve had several readers fervently recommend Hurst Farm in Andover, CT as a fall outing destination, and last weekend, I decided to find out why.
It was an easy drive out to Andover, and the farm was not hard to find thanks to a large sign display out by the road.
But wait. See that little sign up there that says “Hayrides”? Then see underneath where it says Sat & Sun 1-3? Yeah. Well, guess what time we got there? Ummm, around 11:00-ish. Oops. Okay, okay, I should have called first. I guess I just assumed this hayride would be roughly like the other dozen hayrides we’ve done for the blog (those mostly run all day long during the open days). Well, that was just my first mistake of the day.
But no big deal, we decided to head back to Glastonbury (Andover is surprisingly close to my town) to grab some food for the kids from our local Highland Park Market (I had brought pretty much nothing thinking we’d be done at the farm in an hour and would stop for lunch on the way home–oops again) and then return to have a picnic before the hayride.
Fast forward about 45 minutes. Okay. Now we were ready. After we turned into the long driveway, we headed all the way up towards the Hurst Farm Country Store. Isn’t it adorable?
We were so distracted by its charm that we almost didn’t notice this sign directing us where to park:
We actually spent a few minutes sitting in the middle of the driveway discussing which way we should go since we were technically there for the hayride, but we were going to visit the store first. It turned out to be a ridiculous conversation because both parking areas were very close to the store. The hayride parking area is just bigger.
We got the kids out of the car and I went into the store to
snoop around and scope out some treats for later find out the details about the hayride. I had just assumed it would be a short ride out into the field, so you could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out it was going to be 45 minutes long and involve a pile of hay, a couple of turnips, some hungry cows, a patch of pumpkins and a special snack. But boy was I excited! Now this was going to be a hayride! 🙂
Since it was only 12:30 and the hayrides run on the hour at 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00, we bought our tickets (you can purchase them beforehand in the store, but if you’re in a real time crunch they will let you get on the ride and pay afterwards) and spent some time picnicking on the front lawn and enjoying the beautiful day.
Are you getting these gorgeous views?! I love fall in New England.
A half hour flew by, and before we knew it, we were waiting in line to get on the hayride. The line forms on the steps leading down from the store towards the hayride parking lot. Don’t worry. You’ll see where to go.
As we climbed on board, we noticed another unique feature of this hayride: loose hay. That’s right, folks. This is an honest to goodness hay-tossed-willy-nilly-in-the-wagon kind of hayride. No bales for sitting pretty in this one.
And of course, the kiddos wouldn’t want it any other way 🙂
Our first stop on our hayride adventure was this beautiful red barn.
We all hopped out and went exploring inside.
Downstairs there was lots of neat old farming equipment (some even being used at the moment, like that corn cob stripping device right behind Boo; and yes, I am sure that “corn cob stripping device” is indeed the technical term for that machine).
But the really exciting part was upstairs…
After a few minutes of climbing up and jumping down the giant pile of hay, we got back on the wagon to continue our journey.
Next, we stopped in front of a field full of turnips. Yup. Turnips.
Time to pick a couple turnips!
It was hard to find one if you don’t know what you are looking for. Here’s a hint: look for those big green leafy lettuce-type plants.
Then pull. Hard.
Look at the size of that one!
Okay, wait. Let’s put something else in that picture for comparison.
Boo was pretty proud of his haul.
Back on the wagon, our friendly tractor-driver and tour guide offered to peel a turnip if we wanted to taste one. What?! Taste a raw turnip? Well, for the blog’s sake I guess I have to do it…
It was actually not half bad. Kind of like a radish. Nevertheless, we had other plans for our turnip stash.
And there they are!
Next stop: cow feeding time! Don’t worry, they’ll tell you how 🙂
After we’d fed the cows every last turnip (who knew? cows love turnips!), we boarded the wagon to continue the ride. Next stop: the pumpkin patch to “pick” a sugar pumpkin.
Technically, the little guy didn’t get a pumpkin because he’s under 2 and rode for free. But hubby gave him his. I mean, with a face like that, how could you resist?
While we were hanging out in the pumpkin patch, we got a lesson on how Sorghum (that crop below) is processed into syrup.
And then we got to taste a piece of the Sorghum plant. Which was actually really cool. You just chew it like bubble gum, and then spit it out. It’s sweet and chewy– like Mother Nature’s answer to Bubble Yum (do they still make Bubble Yum? or am I dating myself here?).
Anyway, now it was time to head back in for the last activity of the hayride adventure: snack time! Post hayride, we all gathered in the little building next door to the store for cookies and apple cider.
Since I had been so clueless about so many things regarding today’s adventure, I had promised Boo a treat from the store when we returned from the hayride. So this lucky little boy got BOTH cookies and a chance to pick out something sweet from the Hurst Farm Country Store. He didn’t have to look very hard to find something delicious. There are treats in every direction.
Of course, Hurst Farm also makes a variety of their own goods, from salsa to pasta sauce to jams. Pretty much anything in a jar is homemade here.
I wished we could stay all afternoon and browse, but I had to take solace in the fact that I discovered that Hurst Farm is actually not too far from me at all, and I can come back soon. Plus, I found a few yummy things to sample (the candy in the middle is Boo’s treat–they have all kinds of little packages of candy, so it’s perfect if you just want to give a little something sweet to your sweeties):
If you have more time, there are some lovely rocking chairs and benches out front where you can sit and enjoy that spectacular view I showed you earlier. Aww, what the heck. It’s so pretty, I’ll show you again.
Although the hayride portion of this adventure was not stroller-friendly, the farm store really is. There’s even a ramp so you can easily wheel your little ones up onto the porch.
So let’s recap. One beautiful picnic spot + one fun (and educational) hayride + one scrumptious treat (or two or three or four) = one happy family with a new fall tradition to look forward to.
You know, I must say, we’ve been blogging for a long time here at Out and About Mom, and I usually know exactly what I am getting myself into before heading out to cover a venue for a post. But this little outing took me by complete surprise. And you know what? Surprises can be really great 🙂
Country Store: Mon.-Fri. 9-5:30, Sat. and Sun. 9-5
Hayride: Saturdays & Sundays in October from 1-3; ride is approximately 45 minutes long and leaves on the hour (at 1:00, at 2:00, and at 3:00).
Hayride is $7.50/person; under 2 FREE (but no pumpkin)
- Stroller Friendly: Yes and No. The Country Store and surrounding grounds are definitely stroller accessible, but the hayride is not. If you want to enjoy that experience hands-free, try a wearable baby carrier. Or you could certainly just snuggle with your little one in the hay.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: No one will mind if you bring your coffee to the store, but please, don’t try to take it on the hayride. You’d just end up wearing it anyway 🙂
- Restroom: YES. There is a porta-potty outside the store.
- Baby Changing Station: I did not see one.
- Parking: YES. There are two parking areas, one for the store and one for the hayride. Both are free.
- Food for Sale: YES. There are lots of yummy snacks and other food products for sale in the store. Also, at the end of the hayride everyone is treated to apple cider and cookies.
- Outside Food Allowed: YES. Bring a picnic to enjoy before or after your hayride!
- Cash Required: NO. Credit cards are accepted for both hayride tickets and store purchases (although, they prefer a $10 minimum purchase for a credit card).
- Dress Code: Nothing special. But do remember that you will be sitting in a big pile of loose hay (no hay bales on this one folks!)
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES.
- 4D Vision Gym – A vision training center located in Cromwell, CT where Dr. Juanita Collier, MS, OD and her staff show members how to utilize Vision Therapy to correct visual issues and make learning and playing easier and more fun.
- The Independent Day School – Located on a rural campus in Middlefield, CT this private pre-school, elementary and middle school serves families from over 20 communities.
- Mandell JCC – The Mandell JCC, Zachs Campus, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, CT, welcomes and serves families and individuals of all ages, stages, backgrounds and faiths. Our fitness, wellness and recreation, arts and culture, camp, early childhood education programs, classes, clubs and services are open to all. You Belong Here!
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