Hunt Club Farm, home to the only petting farm in Virginia Beach, looked like a fun, relaxing place to visit even though I have a farm myself… I mean, come on, how can you not de-stress when you’re around cute animals? They just have a tranquilizing nature about them.
What made this experience even more peaceful was the setting – a carefully-manicured farm lot with shade trees, green grass, and a country-store-like gift shop.
Located a quick 10-minute drive over Rudee Inlet from my oceanfront hotel, the site was easy to spot. The barn closest to the road had a giant pumpkin on top.
As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw bunches of beautiful flowers and vegetables for sale at their gift shop. I strolled past the hanging baskets and potted blooms to notice strawberry plants on sale at 50% off. Hmmmm….
I meandered past the gift shop and, with a sharp left turn around the corner of a shed, found the Petting Farm. I was expecting a barn or two with a couple small pens housing a few little goats and chickens and maybe a rabbit or two with a parakeet thrown into the mix for whatever this “bird stick” thing was. (And that would’ve suited me just fine!) But what I found was SO much more!
Upon paying a mere $12 per person entry fee, I stopped at the goat pin first. I’d never had much experience with goats, and from the anti-sheep mentality my dad ingrained in me as a child, I figured goats were too close to sheep for comfort. I was wrong.
They were so cute!!! And so well-behaved, too! Of course, as soon as I approached the fence, they jumped up wanting grain. They didn’t intrusively bite or nibble, and they were happy to have a nice petting even if guests didn’t have any food.
Next was the chicken house, which was more than double the size I’d envisioned and contained not only chickens but huge turkeys as well! You could even go in the pen with them! I was fine around chickens, but a tad leery around the monstrous turkeys. I wondered how most “non-farm folk” would feel about entering an enclosed cage with these sometimes spastic and intimidating birds.
I watched a mother and her two children. She didn’t bat an eyelash when she opened the gate and led her kiddos into the chicken pen. I smiled as I watched curiosity and caution light up the eyes of children, who wanted to pet the birds but were equally afraid.
Walking a bit further, I saw rabbit cages. Unfortunately, guests aren’t allowed to touch them. (Probably a good idea… If they get excited, they could claw your arms up pretty good.) But simply viewing the variety of short-haired and long-haired bunnies napping in the shade was perfectly enjoyable.
Next to the rabbit cage was a smaller, probably 7 x 5 foot building. As I approached, I could hear delicate chirps floating from the structure. I peeked in to find little baby chicks! On the corresponding display, I read how the babies hatched at a variety of local schools. What a cool thing!!! Not only is this farm providing a learning opportunity for their visitors, but they’re reaching out to educate local kids!
Strolling a little farther, I came upon a HUGE, enclosed cage. I saw a mother and daughter sitting inside the enclosure, which contained a trickling waterfall splashing into a nine-foot-wide pond.
There were a multitude of colorful flowers all around the pond and lush trees shooting up everywhere. It was a little oasis. A little BIRD oasis.
I looked at the mother and daughter more closely. The little girl had her arm extended and a little parakeet was sitting on the end. The girl looked nervous as the mom lovingly whispered “It’s okay… Look at the pretty bird.”
Do the birds just land on your arm? I thought. Are they that tame?? And then I saw it… In the little girl’s hand…
“A bird stick!” I reacted to myself. It was simply a Popsicle stick covered in bird seed used to attract the new feathered friends. I smiled. I not only solved my mystery of the bird stick, but I was able to see its majestic powers in action.
As I entered the bird house, DOZENS of blue, green yellow, and white parakeets greeted me. They were very friendly and weren’t afraid to fly right past my head. Being the excellent pilots they are, they, of course, knew what they were doing, but a few times, I definitely thought I was going to get a bird to the noggin!
I walked around admiring the birds, little hopping balls of colorful happiness, and then moved on to the pot-bellied pigs, alpacas, sheep, larger goats, chickens, ducks, peacocks, and even a zebra.
All animals had well-maintained and very comfortable pens with little houses and shelters under tall trees that provided a generous amount of shade from the hot sun. Their enclosures looked so comfortable and nice that I thought “Shoot… I could take a nap on some hay in there!” It was truly a little farm paradise. It almost made me wish I was a goat. (Or maybe the zebra?)
In addition, the grounds also featured a children’s playground, some funny photo backdrops and props for memory-capturing, a little stage hooked to an old, antique John Deere tractor, and to top it off, there was a network of catwalks (or goatwalks, rather) stretching throughout the trees above the goat pens. I looked up to find a little goat looking down waiting for me to send grain up a farmer-engineered food trolley.
I took a deep relaxing breath. I’ve always known farm life was for me, and even though I had my own farm at home, I was definitely happy to hand over the admission fee to be a guest on this one. Furthermore, I knew how much that $12 fee helped this operation, and I was happy to support such a wonderful agri-tourism attraction.
In addition to daily admission tickets, they also offer $49 season passes for anyone living in or close to Virginia Beach. (If I were a resident, I would be a season ticket holder simply for stress and anxiety relief!)
As I walked out of Hunt Club Farm Petting Zoo, I looked at the brochure I’d obtained upon entry. In addition to walking through the farm, kids could also enjoy $5 pony rides as well as other event opportunities throughout the year including a Summer Farm Camp, school field trips, an Easter Egg Hunt, Barrels, Brews, & BBQ, a Harvest Fair, a Haunted Halloween, and a Christmas event! Not to mention, you could book the farm for birthday parties or group events. This farm had it going on! (And now they have a new TreeWalk Adventure!)
I turned the corner and headed to the parking lot purchasing my 50% off strawberry plants along the way feeling lighter, relaxed, and grateful for such a sweet experience. “I’ll definitely be back,” I said to myself.