Autumn at your Sydney Farm Stay

Farm Stays around Sydney have hidden Delights

Autumn at your Farm Stay is a lovely time! Beautiful landscapes filled with russets, golds and ambers, the colours of autumn and each season are so much clearer in the country.

Another tip – Walk around and forage for mushrooms its terrific fun but make sure you are careful! Only collect the ones you are certain, positive, absolutely sure… are edible.

The ones I collect at our farm stay and in and around the streets and lanes of my beautiful village with my daughter are Field Mushrooms, Golden Boletus aka Porcini, Saffron Milk Caps and Slippery Jacks. Look in parks, paddocks and on the verges especially a sunny day after a rainy one. Under fir trees will be a great place to look!

There are many others but I just stick with these basic 3 ones.

Field Mushrooms

Field mushrooms are the ones you see year round in the supermarket, the common mushroom. They are white cream in colour and have light pink or brown undersides. They have short squat stems. They smell just like the mushrooms you are used too. The mushrooms in your supermarket are usually brown underneath but when first picked they would have been more pinky underneath.

field mushrooms

mushroom

mushrooms

White with no smell? Whitey yellow underneath? Thin very flat top? Tall skinny stem? Then don’t collect them these are poisonous toadstools. The photos above are of the edible ones please stick with these.

Slippery Jacks

Very dark brown or medium golden brown with a distinctly shiny slimy top surface. Flat cap often in a clump overlapping. You may see just one but there may be others close by so look carefully!

These are sooo easy they are middle golden in colour, nice flat caps with literally a light yellow underside that looks like foam. They smell just like normal mushrooms. All these photos are delicious Slippery Jacks.

golden mushroom

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slipper

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Saffron Milk Caps

Salmon/almost like a soft orange colour, a firm flat cap with little bumps all over, lovely salmon frills underneath. They smell just like normal mushrooms too!

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Farm Activities at your NSW Farm stay

Farm Animal Activities

Some farms have timed feeding and activities – be very prompt as the farmer needs to get back to his farm duties afterwards!

Some farms only let you get hands on in these supervised times so ask how much you can interact.

Some farms allow you to get involved with the animals at you leisure all day – great fun.

Some farms have a mix of both and have some activities that can be done at a time that suits you, and the rest of the time you can interact when you wish – the best of both worlds!

farm act

All About Eggs!

Some farms will even let you collect your own eggs and eat them up for Breakfast – ask your farmer today.

Awoken by the rooster – how much fun! He’s looking after his brood and showing its morning to the farmer and his guests! Farms need roosters to breed chicks, and eggs from a hen that runs alongside a rooster are said to be higher in Protein.

Have you found a chook sitting on a nest of eggs (called a clutch) – make sure you can eat them as they may have little chicks in them – Don’t disturb the hen she is incubating her eggs for the next generation of chooks at your NSW Farmstay.

Found some eggs but they look dirty? Well often they are, as chooks scratch the dirt, have a drink, and then walk over the eggs….every egg at the supermarket are washed thoroughly in a washing machine type machine which holds gently the eggs that’s why THEY look SOOOO clean.

To check eggs are fresh simply put them in a mixing bowl or saucepan of water if they are on the bottom they are lovely and fresh. If they float – throw them out!

Chooks love scraps remember Farmers were environmentalists before it was fashionable, every scrap of peel or food even stale food is great for chooks. They wont eat Banana or citrus peel though.

farm activities collecting eggs

Safety First – Stay Aware…

Entire male animals, Stallions, Rams, Roosters and Bulls can be more forceful as they are still entire and have the instinct to ‘be the boss’. Observe, ask questions and move slowly when meeting all farm animals. Farm animals are not tame like dogs and cats, they are domesticated which means simply conditioned to be near or controlled by humans. Use common sense and always err on the side of caution.

Literally keep your younger children at you arms length and continually watch them.

Don’t walk behind farm animals or squeal near them as you may startle the animal.

Pick up toddlers and hold babies.

Don’t touch a horse near the mouth he will think you are offering food – you don’t want to be bitten in error, because your fingers smelt like food.

farm acts

Speak quietly and softly – farm animals are wonderful and love to be treated gently, soon the animals will come to meet you as soon as you appear in or near their paddock. Perhaps you will be known as ‘The Farm Whisperer’ when you return to Sydney from the farm stay!

If a mummy ewe is standing with its lamb, or a mummy alpaca with its little cria, or a mummy mare with its foal DO NOT go and pick up the baby to take it over near your child. Naturally she will panic as she loves and understands from the moment it was born that she has the role of protector of the animal. Ask the farmer to bring the baby is by far the best, and even then slowly approach. The mummy may let you pat her and the baby but she certainly won’t until she trusts you.

Alpacas and donkeys are guardian animals. They will attack and could even kill a strange dog or a fox by crushing it. They are used by farmers mainly for flock protection not for fibre in Australia, best to take your dog for walks on the lanes not in paddocks full of farm animals. It’s no your dog that necessarily will scare the animals and cause injury, it is the alpaca or donkey who may lash out at a guests doggie.

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Packing and Other tips for your NSW Farm Stay

When at the Farm

Don’t leave a Gate open if you have walked through it – sure you may be coming back through soon –  but its critical you close the gate as soon as you drive or walk through. Leave open gates open and closed gates closed!

Before walking through a paddock make sure it belongs to your farmstay and also that there isn’t a bull in it!

When you are walking in paddocks on your farmstay – and whenever you are bushwalking, do not walk with your hands in your pockets – if you trip you will land on your face!

If you see a snake walk backwards slowly away from it or stand completely still until it passes.

Don’t forget to Pack!

Wear old clothes so your clothes don’t get ruined in the country on your holiday!

Wear shoes that are old – but with good tread – sandshoes and some sneakers are very slippery on dewy grass and mossy rocks.

 

Stand Up and Be Counted – ‘People Smuggling’ in Farm Stays

What to Mention when Booking In

Accurate numbers – to ‘smuggle’ someone in to accommodation is seen in a VERY dim light in accommodation as after all this is what they SELL – accommodation.

Maybe you think the words ‘people smuggling’ sounds too dramatic, but genuinely its a real problem for hosts and doing this is really really wrong!

Be honest and happy to pay for all the people you ask along, or please just stay at home.

Unfortunately all hosts are faced with people often trying to minimise numbers, it’s a very annoying practise – and is tantamount to stealing – so please mention each and every member of your group … and even the ones who are babies or just staying a single night!

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All Hosts are very aware – don’t make a fool of yourself

Babies Cause more Mess – Not Less!

Even if you are going to take your own port-a-cot, or your toddler is going to sleep in your bed, (justify it any way you will) they still incur a cost and have a footprint, there is more wear and tear, there is more cleaning to do, toys and facilities like Port-a-cots and high chairs when supplied need to be checked for cleanliness and often folded up and put away.

Even babies still produce waste like nappies and wipes which need to be disposed of. They need heating and monitors, and warmed milk and food. Please don’t think your little one has no ‘footprint’.

Day Visitors

Same thing – don’t think its automatically OK to ask your friends to join you for an afternoon – without asking your host….After all really it the host providing them with the experience and surroundings… NOT you!

And Don’t forget to buy travel insurance straight away when you book.

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Stand Up and be Counted

Farm Stay Parties and Celebrations

Be Plain and Honest about Your Plans

We call them many things, and its OK to refer to them as a gathering, extended family, a dinner, a celebration or even a plain old ‘Shin Dig’.

But make super sure you mention your plans when you enquire and book. Not all properties will allow them or even consider a booking when a party or a ‘special dinner’ is concerned’. Others have large long tables, or outdoor barns or gazbos and are particularly happily have them.

Don’t assume you can dig a Hangi pit, a camp fire, engage a caterer…. or even hang decorations.

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Ask about everything you are hoping to include.

Remember to mention if there is going to be music, games, catering, and if others not accommodated at the property will be attending.

Some accommodation have restaurants, pubs and clubs in walking distance instead, which may hold your group dinner at surprisingly low prices – investgate your options – ask your host for details, they will know what is in the area.

Kitchens are often not big enough to cook for a large group, often they are just kitchenettes, and fridges may not be huge some only bar style – ask and investigate properly.

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Even the best plans can go awry, usually too much liquor is at the heart, make sure YOU stay in control, and respect your hosts property by remaining in control of your event and allowing no nonsense.

Look After the Property

Clean up extra well, and take extra rubbish home.

If you have decorations ask if you can use them, and use quality masking tape and remove them gently to not ruin the paintwork.

Own Up and Offer hosts money if your guests have caused damage – it could happen!- so the host can rectify what happened.

If you aren’t willing to hold your party or gathering at home….ask yourself is it really because you don’t want the extra cleaning, possible damage or noise.

Let your hosts make the same decision too, by giving them all the facts before accepting your booking.

Is Your Farm Stay Pet Friendly – Tips to help it work

Doggy Dos and Doggy Don’ts

  • Don’t forget to clean up any little messes in the houseyard – nobody wants to see or clean up your doggy dos.
  • Don’t dispose of the doggy dos in the farm house garden – YUK!
  • Puppies are rarely allowed in accommodation, be honest about their age and be ready to make other arrangements for pups and young dogs.
  • Yappers are disturbing to others – make other arrangements for constant yapping dogs…
  • Don’t expect to be able to go on outings without your dog – unsupervised dogs are unlikely to be welcome on a working farm.
  • Whiners are even worse – make other arrangements for dogs who pine for you whilst you are absent.
  • Respect your owners rules for your dog.
  • Bring your dogs bed or bedding. Don’t allow your dog to sleep in the bed, on the bed or other soft furnishings.
  • Many pet friendly farm stays will let you bring your dog, but some not inside the house – check their pet policy
  • Farm fences are rarely dog proof, and dogs that want to get out will find a way.
  • Rangers will take a loose dog in the country very seriously – i.e. BIG FINES, and it is LEGAL to shoot a dog so keep it safe and close.
  • Don’t take naughty dogs
  • Don’t use your farms policy of being dog friendly to save on boarding fees, only take well mannered dogs on your farm holiday.
  • Don’t take dogs that chase animals or birds – you may be asked to leave!
  • Dogs are not allowed in National Parks, if you go for a bushwalk – then what are you going to do with him or her?
  • Dog scooping poop.jpg                                                                            This dog would certainly be welcome at my Farm Stay!dogs

        I don’t want to go to the farm, I’d rather go get spoiled at grandmas!

Why Kids should Pay – to – Stay in Farm Stay Accommodation too!

Paying for children

Have you noticed that many accommodation properties don’t want to know you….won’t even have you, now you have kids in the mix?

This is so annoying isn’t it….

On the other hand many guests don’t think they should pay for kids…. But is this really realistic in farm accommodation? After all almost every group has kids and babies as the choice for a farm experience is often mainly for the kids.

There needs to be a meeting of the minds….

AAKT0C little girl writing on the wall of her house

Sometimes – Children draw on walls

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Sometimes kids just can’t resist

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Sometimes make mistakes

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Sometimes Yummy Fingers touch and feel

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Sometimes bounce real high

Toddlers and babies often leave a bigger mess and possibly even breakage, so be happy you are going to child friendly establishments and expect to pay for them too.

  • In a restaurant a child eats much less
  • In a plane the child sits on your lap.
  • In accommodation however the situation is reversed – children have an even greater footprint than an adult.

Food for thought – Is the house where you live tidier now that you have had children…?

If you believe your kids should be welcome in accommodation everywhere – then you really should be happy to pay for their holiday too.

Cereal spilled onto floor --- Image by © Pauline St. Denis/Corbis

Sometimes things slip

Happy funny messy eater

Sometimes they wear more than they eat

Baby covered in spaghetti

Golly that was good Mum!

Family Farm Holidays near Sydney – 4 Keys to Find the ‘Needle in the Haystack’

The great Australian state of New South Wales has a lot to offer families looking for a good holiday. One option that’s becoming more popular is spending family holidays on a farm, also known as a farm stay.
But how to find the ‘Needle in the Haystack’? With this article explores the 4 key things to look at and compare to find the right ‘fit’ for your own family.

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