Animals make for great spring fun — ‘barn’ none

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 3, 2017

 Emily McEachern, of Bloomfield Hills, guides Cappuccino the goat and Erin Cosgrove, of Birmingham, walks Stephanie the goat during a day camp at the Charles L. Bowers School Farm in 2012. The goats carried the children’s lunches in their backpacks as they walked out to the farm’s sledding hill for a picnic.

Emily McEachern, of Bloomfield Hills, guides Cappuccino the goat and Erin Cosgrove, of Birmingham, walks Stephanie the goat during a day camp at the Charles L. Bowers School Farm in 2012. The goats carried the children’s lunches in their backpacks as they walked out to the farm’s sledding hill for a picnic.

File photo by Deb Jacques

METRO DETROIT — For so many, spring represents a season of renewal: budding flowers, the return of warm air and longer days.

As April the giraffe was more than happy to demonstrate, spring is also the season when many farms welcome new arrivals from expectant mamas.

“(Visitors) stop out (this time of year), often to see which newborns have arrived,” said Jennifer Hollenbeck, interpretive services manager for Huron-Clinton Metroparks. “Many babies have been born right before our visitors’ eyes.”

The warmer days make it easier for a new baby to survive, since the weather in winter can sometimes be hard or even dangerous. Babies also have a better chance at a full tummy in the spring, since the freshly sprouted grass and other plants make for a rich, protein-packed meal for Mom as she nurses her babies, according to the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation.

Within the Huron-Clinton system, two locations have farm centers open throughout the year. But with so much happening in the spring — along with families itching to get outdoors and break their cabin fever — the animal caretakers at Wolcott Mill Metropark in Ray Township and Kensington Metropark in Milford have a full schedule of activities that include plenty of interaction with animals and their babies.

Wolcott Mill park is gearing up for some sheep shearing May 13 during the Fiber Fair. The event will be held 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and participants can get in on the fun for $5. That will be followed by Dairy Day 11 a.m.-4 p.m. June 25, which will also cost $5 per person. 

But visitors can come out anytime to see animals, including cows that are milked every day at 10 a.m., or the current lineup of cuddly babies that includes lambs, kids (goats), ducklings, calves, chicks and bunnies.

Over at Kensington park, Fun on the Farm events are typically held every two weeks, though guests can visit the baby lambs, kids, piglets and calves anytime during operating hours. During the summer, the park will host Farm Camp, Farmer Jr. activies and Farmer for a Day experiences for 8- to 13-year-olds. Details for all those events can be found on the parks system website. 

Both locations offer hayrides 1-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, which cost $5 for adults and $3 for children and seniors.

Tucked in between those two parks is the Charles L. Bowers School Farm, a property under the umbrella of the Bloomfield Hills Schools district. The historic farm just partnered with the Michigan State University Extension to offer science-based summer camps at the site and to develop new educationally driven programming.

But you don’t have to be a student to visit the animals that call Bowers Farm home. 

“Our first Spring Fling happened last Saturday with a pancake breakfast and animal exhibits. That proved to be very successful, and we plan to do it next year as well,” said Alan Jaros, Bowers Farm educational leader and an MSU Extension educator. “We aren’t planning on holding any other spring events, but a family is always welcome to sign up for a private tour or program.”

To learn more about Bowers Farm, visit bloom field.org or call (248) 341-6475.

For more information on Huron-Clinton Metroparks, visit metroparks.com.