by Stephanie, mum of 2 and owner of Together Time, baby and toddler sensory and massage classes in Bicester and Oxfordshire.
I have visited many farms around Oxfordshire with my 2 young boys (4yrs and 2yrs) and Farmer Gow’s is one of our favourites. I love the rustic and authentic feel to the farm, it’s clearly a working farm and you can see the farm life going on around you throughout the day.
The site itself is smaller than many farms but for young children it’s ideal for exploring. It has a lovely indoor cafe with locally sourced hot and cold food. It also has a large barn space with many picnic tables and lots of imaginative play toys.
There are two animal handling areas. One where you can help with the egg boxing and handle the chicks (time of year allowing). The second is an animal barn containing cows, goats, sheep and pigs.
During your visit you are given a time slot to attend the animal handling and each pen of animals are allowed to freely roam and feed directly from your hands. This is my favourite, particularly when there are piglets running around!
There is also a large amount of outdoor space. Some containing animals which you can walk around. Other areas have been designed to attract birds and signals around the area help you identify the different breeds.
Before Covid they had a lovely tractor trail around more animals, however this is currently not running. Instead this is now a walking trail, there isn’t a huge amount to see but it’s a nice space to let little legs burn off some energy!
As well as the outdoor animals there are 2 play parks and an area with ride on tractors.
Finally my 2 boys favourite part of the day…the hay bales! Set up in an outside barn there is a large stack of bales with purpose made tunnels and areas to explore. It’s an instant attraction to any child (and most grown ups too!) And they can spend hours climbing, jumping and hiding. I’d challenge any adult not to have a turn too! It’s not particularly high which makes it accessible for the little ones too, my 2 year old can easily manage it. For me that’s ideal as it means I can enjoy a coffee!
The staff are extremely friendly and welcoming. They are happy to chat with the children and explain how they care for the animals. They are also very happy to let you get stuck in and help as they can.
We recently re visited after covid, it’s the only place I have been as I knew it would be well managed, and I wasn’t disappointed. Pre booking was done online and they called before the visit to check you were happy with everything. Food and drink could also be pre booked but this isn’t essential. When you arrive you are assigned a picnic bench as your base for the day to allow you to eat and rest comfortably and at a safe distance from others. There was also regular cleaning of all areas.
I’d strongly recommend wellies in the wet weather, as I have mentioned it’s a fully working farm so it does get muddy. Also warm clothes and coats. Although most of it is under cover it is fairly open so can be cold. It’s friendly for pushchairs too. We visited with my youngest at only 3 months old and had no problems, just don’t forget to remove any food from the pram before visiting the animals…we lost a bottle of milk to a goat!
For me, Farmer Gow’s ticks every box when you have little ones. It’s not so big that it’s overwhelming and it’s well thought out and designed for the smaller guests. You can spend a couple of hours or all day and little ones will happily come away; muddy, exhausted and full of happy memories!
Find more great children’s farms and animal attractions reviewed on Red Kite Days.