Work and Play at the Homestead

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We spent this past weekend in Ohio at my parents’ house as we cared for their critters. They drove up to Michigan to visit my sister’s family and we offered to care for their farm while the were gone. The kids were looking forward to a mini vacation at the Homestead. The plan was to fit in a little sightseeing and local fun in the midst of our responsibilities. The weekend didn’t go exactly as planned when the flu hit and left some feeling yucky, but even with that setback we managed to make the best of our weekend away.

The days began and ended with work as we cared for the animals and gardens. Everyone took on different responsibilities from feeding and watering animals, to gathering eggs, to mucking out the barn. The work was not too different than their chore list at home, but somehow doing the work at someone else’s home made it more fun. 🙂

We also had the responsibility of keeping Mimi’s beautiful gardens alive in the midst of 90+ degree days.

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Feeding the trout in the spring room.

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Grace watering the flower gardens.

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Rusty gathering eggs.

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Ozzie giving George his nightly brush down.

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Tyler playing chase with the goats.

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 After our chores were done each day then it was time to play. On the days when we had sick kids we stayed home and the healthy kids enjoyed swimming in Mimi and Pop pop’s pool, soaking in the hot tub, and enjoyed the treat of cable TV. There was a lot of Disney Channel viewing done by all the kids, and a lot of Weather Channel viewing done by Ozzie. 🙂

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Enjoying our nightly dip in the hot tub.

 During times when everyone was feeling well we ventured out for a little local fun. The number one requested stop by all the kids was Hershberger Farm. This farm/bakery is a must see stop in Amish country. This farm hold a special place in our hearts as it was the place where we adopted both our puppies: Winnie, our English Bulldog and Ellie May, our Bashar (Bassett Hound/Shar pei mix) from.

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They no longer sell puppies but they do have a fun free petting zoo where you can hold and feed all sorts of farm animals that they have for sell. This time of year is especially fun at Hershberger Farm with all the baby animals.

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It is funny how much my kids love this place. It is not as though the animals here are a novelty for my farm kids. Between our home and the Homestead we have most of these critters, but for my animal lovers the joy found in a petting zoo never lessens or grows old.

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There is no cost to pet or hold the animals. The only expense comes from the additional activities like the carriage rides or pony rides…

as well as the cost of food if you choose to feed the animals.

We decided to splurge on the $5.00 cost of buying 6 ice cream cones of animal feed. It is such a clever way to package the animal feed because there is no waste. You feed the animals the pellets and then feed them the cone they came in when your cone is empty…It is brilliant!

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The cone also makes a great transport vehicle for feeding the goats on the barn roof.

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At Hershberger Farm they have built stairs up to the roof for the goats to climb. If you want to feed the goats lounging on the roof you place your cone on the conveyor belt and turn the wheel that moves your cone up to the goats who eagerly wait until the cone is within reach.

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It is a lot of fun to do. Some of the kids chose to feed the goats on the roof while others opted to save their feed for the mommas and babies inside the barn.

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Inside the barn there was a regular menagerie of critters including, but not limited to: cows, horses, goats, bunnies, chickens, sheep, ducks, and even a Zebu.

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The Zebu ended up being Rusty and my favorite critter there. With his sweet temperament, excess skin and long, droopy ears we decided it was the Bassett Hound of the cattle world and we want one!

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We spent hours feeding and loving on all the babies. I am amazed we made it out without someone smuggling out a baby of some sort  under their shirt.

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Hershberger Farm also had a new addition to the petting area. Their massive, famous horse, Big Ben, has retired to the fields to enjoy a quieter life in his old age and the new horse on display is Big King. He is a three year old offspring of Big Ben and equally impressive in his size and stature.

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When everyone had their fill of animal loving we walked over to the bakery so that they could each pick out a fry pie to have for dessert after dinner that night. Fry pies are a Amish treat that one must buy when in Amish country. Fry pies are a fried, glazed pastries that are filled with a variety of pie fillings. Each kid picked out a different flavor to try.

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On another afternoon we ventured out of the house to go to Lehman’s… another must see spot to visit in Holmes county.

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 Lehman’s is a really cool store in the heart of Ohio Amish Country that has a lot to offer for both tourists and locals alike. We were introduced to Lehman’s years ago by Toby’s parents when it was just a small hardware store specializing in non-electronic housewares and hardware. Since then they have expanded and what they have to offer is so much more. They have a lot of neat things there. They have unusual sodas and even have a large section of toys. There are charming decorations  on display to add to the experience, including an old fashioned English telephone booth and an Amish buggy.  The place has become somewhat of a tourist attraction and is definitely a good roadside stop to go in and walk around for awhile even of you don’t plan on buying anything.

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We were there at lunchtime and bought a hot dog for everyone. The kids loved eating in the jail cell that sits in the corner of the café.

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We walked around for a while and then the kids were each allowed to pick out a fun soda to drink outside as we lounged in the sun.

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The selection of sodas for sale is crazy! They have just about any flavor you could want including many you probably wouldn’t want. 🙂

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Each kid picked out a yummy flavor and then we purchased one crazy flavor to try. The kids picked out peanut butter and jelly flavor soda to share…and surprisingly declared it “pretty tasty!”

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We left on Sunday to return home after getting the animals and home ready for my parents’ arrival. The timing was good. In the following 48 hours more of us got hit with the same stomach bug that left Molly feeling lousy over the weekend. It was good to be home in our own beds.

It was a lot fun to get away for the weekend but it was nice to return home.

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