Recently Destructo Boy went on a school trip to Easton Farm Park; since then, Mini Diva has been pestering us to go again, as we haven't been for a couple of years.
Admission is usually £7.95 per adult, £6.75 per child, which I believe is extortionate to see a few chickens and rabbits; so we planned our visit for the last Saturday of the month, when a
Farmers' Market is held there, since admission used to be free when that was on. Now it is £5 per car, but you do receive £5 worth of vouchers that can be redeemed either in the catering barn, or with the stallholders on the Farmer's Market.
We arrived about 10am, thinking we were on the late side, but in fact, things didn't start to get busy until we were leaving at about 1pm-ish; the weather was cloudy, cool and windy, but this didn't appear to be putting off the Bank Holiday crowds.
The Farmers' Market itself was disappointing: 1 stall of fresh vegetables, 1 for eggs, 2 people selling jams and chutneys, a lady with pretty babies' and kids handmade knitted sweaters/cardigans, a cake stall, a lady selling decorated wooden boxes, a sad cupcake stall, a veal stall (frozen packs) and a meat/sausage stall. I realize that it is early in the season for farm produce, but there was definitely plenty of scope for local and handmade crafts to fill the yawning gaps. The plant stall I saw in the distance had been placed well off the main drag, outdoors, and had packed up and gone by 12:15 - if I were them, I'd be requesting a refund of my stall fee.
Generally the display standards were poor (five or so tiny lopsided cupcakes on a table do not a tempting, attractive display make), and to me, reflected a common attitude: if it's organic/handmade/local/ticks all those similar trendy boxes, then it's OK to be unprofessional/amateur. Having paid the sausage man, if I hadn't requested he give me the sausages I'd just purchased, he would have forgotten to give them to me.
Wandering around the place looking at the animals didn't keep the kids occupied for long: their favorite part was the play area in the catering barn, where tea & toast was an unbelievable£3.00, served barehanded by two unsupervised teenagers - one of whom had chipped nailvarnish on bitten nails and who kept playing with her face and loose, untied and uncovered hair: I'm not that fussy, but, no, thanks.
Far more worrying for me (townie wuss that I am) were the much-vaunted Suffolk Punch horses that the farm is so proud of; the latest arrival and her mum were in a small, dry, dusty field full of stones close to the BBQ. The rest were in a large field behind the kids outdoor play area; I saw nowhere where they could shelter from wind or rain, and there appeared to be no water or food available. A couple had very ugly large warty growths on the insides of their front legs, that I cannot find as normal via Google images.
The wire in the forefront on this photo is part of the electrified fence. One questions the need for such a thing with these animals.
In addition, the horses' feet appear to need some professional care: they were unshod, and I do realize shoes are not necessary if the horses are not going on roads/paving; however, the largest horse had a right front hoof that was split from bottom to top; the other horses also had chips and cracks ...
It just seems odd to me that animals which are boasted about to such a degree are not cared for better, and look so unkempt: it is unrealistic for them to be looking their 'Sunday best' or groomed to show standards every day, but I really did expect them to look as if someone loved them, and for them kept in a more salubrious, appropriate environment.
Grooming generally seems to be an issue: both children had a pony ride: the pony was unbrushed, it's mane was full of bits, etcetc. as was the cob used for pulling the wagonride. This may be linked to the fact that there appeared to be few to no adults employed: I saw two ladies of a certain age in the gift shop, a lady running the BBQ, and that was it - everybody else was well under the age of 20.
So, overall, a very disappointing visit; and if we had paid the usual entrance fees, which would have amounted to £37.35 on this occasion, I would be complaining even more. We won't be in a hurry to return.